T-bone crashes can leave victims with serious injuries and vehicle damage. Determining fault in these crashes is sometimes complex, but many crashes happen at intersections where the rules and the facts are somewhat simpler to understand.
For a T-bone crash that occurs at an intersection, determining the at-fault party is not a matter of looking at who hit whom. Instead, fault comes down to who was in the intersection legally and who entered illegally. Different traffic rules will govern fault in other T-bone crashes that do not occur at intersections.
For a free case review, call the South Carolina car accident attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers today. Our number is (803) 451-4000.
Determining Fault in a T-Bone Car Crash in South Carolina
Four elements must be met when looking at fault in any car accident case. Namely, there must be a duty that the at-fault driver had to follow, a breach of that duty, proof that their breach of duty actually caused the accident, and damages that resulted from the accident. In a T-bone case, this is usually carried out in a few common ways.
Driver Strikes You
If you were T-boned by another driver, they could be held at fault for violating basic traffic laws. When you are T-boned in an intersection that you entered legally, that means that the other driver must have entered illegally to cross your lane of traffic. If you had a green light or it was your turn to go at another intersection (e.g., one governed by stop signs), then it would have been illegal for them to enter the intersection.
In this case, the other driver violated their duty to follow traffic laws, red lights, and stop signs; they crashed into you; and you suffered injuries and vehicle damage because of it. This satisfies all elements of a car accident case, and the other driver would be at fault.
In crashes that happen away from an intersection, the only way someone can T-bone you is if they were driving at a right angle in the direction of traffic. That is patently illegal and usually results from speeding, drunk driving, or potentially a serious vehicle malfunction. In any case, that accident is not your fault either, and the other driver should be held liable. If, in the rare case the crash was caused by a vehicle malfunction, our Columbia car accident lawyers can seek damages from the manufacturer or other responsible parties.
You Struck Another Driver
Sometimes the roles in a T-bone accident are somewhat reversed. In many T-bone accidents, you might crash into another car, but the accident might not be your fault. Instead of looking at who hit whom, it is important to once again look at the traffic laws governing the situation.
If you entered an intersection legally, but someone illegally pulled out in front of you, you might not be able to stop in time to avoid a crash, even if you were driving with the appropriate care and skill. This is another common way T-bone accidents occur, with the innocent driver hitting the at-fault driver.
Just because the other driver was in harm’s way does not mean they were the victim. If they sped out in front of you, ran a red light or a stop sign, or otherwise failed to yield to you while you were legally entitled to enter the intersection, the accident is their fault. Even if they were the recipient of the crash, they still caused the accident by pulling out when they weren’t supposed to.
In non-intersection accidents, this, once again, typically only occurs when a driver is swerving or otherwise driving unsafely. Our Sumter car accident lawyers can work to hold them responsible in those cases as well.
Potential Victim-Blaming in South Carolina T-Bone Accidents
Because these cases often involve two cars and potential arguments about who actually struck whom, victim-blaming often comes up in T-bone accident cases. Ultimately, South Carolina law is equipped to handle these issues. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers can fight to hold the at-fault driver responsible for 100% of the blame, fighting any claims that you were “actually” at fault.
As mentioned, drivers often try to claim that they are the victim because their car was ultimately the one that was hit instead of the car that did the hitting. As mentioned, this is untrue: if they entered the intersection illegally, then the crash is their fault. However, this might mean having to turn to South Carolina’s comparative fault statutes.
If the defendant successfully convinces the jury that you were, in fact, partly liable for the accident, your damages could be reduced. If you were 50% at fault or less, the court can actually reduce your damages by your own percentage of fault. So, for example, if the court holds you 10% at fault and your damages would have been $100,000, the defendant pays only $90,000 instead. If you were more than 50% at fault, you are blocked from seeking damages entirely.
This shared fault can be attributed to legitimate concerns, such as speeding, distracted driving, or other minor traffic violations on the victim’s part. However, if the defendant’s only argument is that they pulled out in front of you illegally and got hit, then the sole fact that they “got hit” should not legally mean that you were at fault to any degree. Our South Carolina personal injury lawyers can work to shut down these unfounded arguments and work to have the defendant pay 100% of the damages they owe you.
For a Free Case Evaluation, Call Us Today
At Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers, our Columbia personal injury lawyers fight to help injured car accident victims get the damages they deserve. For your free case review, call our attorneys at (803) 451-4000.