In October, a nine year-old girl was tragically killed in a side impact car crash when her vehicle was struck while the driver was attempting to make a left hand turn into a private driveway. Every year, thousands of Ohio residents are injured or killed in side impact collisions, which are more commonly known as T-bone crashes. These kinds of accidents are particularly dangerous because the sides of a car provide very little protection to passengers. For this reason, many victims of side impact car accidents sustain serious injuries.
Most side impact collisions involve one of the following scenarios:
- A driver made an improper turn;
- A driver failed to obey traffic signals; or
- A driver failed to properly yield at an intersection.
Side impact crashes are usually indicative that at least one of the parties involved was negligent or reckless, which could include driving while distracted, driving aggressively, or operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Many drivers who T-bone another vehicle are traveling at high rates of speed, which usually causes the less protected side of the car that was struck to cave in on itself. While side air bags offer some protection in these scenarios, occupants are still at a higher risk of being injured than they would be if struck from the rear.
The Severity of Side Impact Crashes
Side impact crashes are usually classified as minor, moderate, or severe. This rating is based on the level of intrusion caused by an impact. When a vehicle hits another car head-on or rear ends it, passengers only feel an impact after it has been absorbed by a bumper, an engine, a trunk, or the back seats. When cars are struck on the side, only a door, a window, and perhaps a side airbag separate the passenger or driver from the other person’s vehicle. For this reason, the doors of a vehicle usually take the brunt of the damage. If a door was crushed into the car by less than four inches, it will most likely be labeled as a minor accident, while a door that was crushed six inches or more into the interior of a car indicates that a collision was severe. If the cars were traveling at an especially high speed, the doors where the vehicle was struck may even become jammed and impossible to open, requiring victims to wait inside their cars for emergency responders to extract them. Severe accidents usually also result in a collapsed ceiling, which can put passengers and drivers in further danger.
Side impact collisions also pose an additional risk to other vehicles. This is because many side impact crashes occur in intersections and when one car is struck it is often knocked off course and into another car traveling in the other direction. The force of a collision can also cause a vehicle to spin off of the road into guardrails and telephone poles. Some top heavy cars, such as SUVs, if hit hard enough, may even roll over completely, adding a crushed ceiling to the dangers faced by occupants.
Common Side Impact Injuries
Those who are involved in side impact collisions are only partially protected from the force exerted by the at-fault driver’s car. As a result, victims of side impact crashes are more likely to suffer serious injuries, such as:
- Closed head injuries;
- Hearing loss;
- Dislocated or crushed shoulders;
- Spinal cord damage;
- Injuries to the sternum, diaphragm, or ribs;
- Punctured lungs; and
- Fractures of the femur.
Some of these injuries can result in permanent disability, including loss of movement or memory problems. Treatment can require months or even years of physical therapy and multiple surgeries. Furthermore, during treatment, it may be impossible for the victim to hold down a job. Family members are often enlisted to help in the recovery process by transporting the injured party to and from appointments, assisting with physical therapy, and performing daily tasks. This can all take a significant toll on both victims and their families, who may find themselves thousands of dollars in debt.
Fortunately, those who are injured by another person’s negligence may be able to collect compensation for their losses. All drivers on the road are required to exercise reasonable care when driving, so someone who ran a red light or failed to yield the right of way and so collided with another vehicle has breached that duty. However, in side impact cases, a plaintiff may not even be required to provide evidence of negligence, but can instead rely on a claim of negligence per se. Negligence per se claims are applicable when a person violates a law that was created to protect victims like the plaintiff from the risk of injury sustained by the plaintiff. If an injured party is able to compile evidence that the at-fault party violated a traffic law, which is often the case in side impact collisions, he or she may be eligible to receive damages.
Because side impact accident injuries are so serious, it is especially important for victims to ensure that all evidence is carefully preserved. To this end, a plaintiff’s legal team would undertake an in-depth investigation, which includes:
- Obtaining a copy of the police report;
- Collecting data from vehicle recorders;
- Collecting contact information from bystanders who may have witnessed the crash;
- Comparing the time of the accident listed on the police report with traffic light records;
- Photographing the damage sustained by the vehicle;
- Measuring skid marks and points of impact; and
- Retaining all medical documentation related to the plaintiff’s injuries.
Collecting this type of evidence could play a key role in the outcome of a case.
Contact an Experienced Cleveland Car Accident Attorney Today
If you live or work in Cleveland and were recently T-boned while driving, please contact the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers by sending us a brief message and providing us with some basic contact information and we will help you schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Cleveland car accident attorney who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.