By: South Sound Law Group

Why Are Side-Impact Collisions So Dangerous?


What Are the Risks Associated With a Side-Impact Collision?

All automobile accidents can potentially cause significant harm. Even a low-speed “fender bender” may lead to head trauma, whiplash, and other bodily injury. However, side-impact collisions have added risks for motorists because the driver often cannot see the crash coming. This lack of warning prevents the driver and passengers from maneuvering out of harm’s way or bracing for the impact.

Side-impact collisions, also known as T-bone accidents or broadside collisions, happen when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another car. Newer cars have more safety equipment, such as side airbags, to mitigate the harm caused by impacts to the side of the vehicle. However, the doors and side panels are still the most vulnerable and least-protected areas of a car, and the driver or passengers often take the brunt of the force from a side collision. This creates a hazardous situation, and severe injury and fatalities may result.

How Do Side-Impact Collisions Happen?

For a side-impact collision to occur, the vehicles must be traveling perpendicular to one another. This situation mainly happens at intersections, in parking lots, and when drivers must make turns across another lane of traffic. In most cases, a broadside accident is the result of one or both drivers engaging in negligent behaviors, although poorly designed roadways and mechanical malfunctions can sometimes play a role.

Some of the most common factors involved in side-impact collisions include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or OTC medications
  • Distracted driving
  • Failing to properly yield the right of way at an intersection
  • Turning left into oncoming traffic
  • Failing to account for road or weather conditions, such as ice or fog
  • Not checking for cars before backing out of a driveway or parking spot
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Brake malfunctions or faulty steering

What Injuries Can Result From a Side-Impact Crash?

Modern vehicles are built with safety features such as crumple zones and advanced seat belts to protect occupants from harm in the event of a crash. Unfortunately, these features do little to prevent injury when the point of impact is on the side of the car. T-bone accidents often lead to severe bodily harm for the individuals in the vehicle that is struck, particularly if they are sitting on the side where the collision occurs. In addition to the initial crash, victims of side-impact collisions can face further dangers from a rollover or secondary impacts as the force of the crash sends their vehicle into nearby traffic or off the roadway.

Some of the devastating injuries that may result from a broadside accident include:

  • Whiplash or other serious neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries, potentially causing full or partial paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Internal bleeding and organ damage
  • Sprains and strains
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations and contusions
  • Crush injuries
  • Damage to limbs, including amputations
  • Burns

Tragically, victims may succumb to their injuries. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 22% of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths reported nationwide in 2021 were due to side-impact crashes. Based on this statistic, side-impact collisions are the second-deadliest type of car accident, behind head-on collisions. 

How Can a Side-Impact Collision Affect Your Life Long-Term?

The sudden and destructive nature of T-bone crashes can leave a lasting impact on victims, both mentally and physically. Depending on the severity of the injuries caused by the accident, survivors may face weeks, months, or even years of recovery and rehabilitation.

Unfortunately, even with the best care, some survivors may struggle to regain normalcy in their lives. While the challenges experienced by survivors of side-impact crashes can vary based on their injuries and circumstances, potentially life-altering situations may include:

  • Paralysis
  • Severe psychological distress
  • Temporary or permanent disability
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of mobility and independence
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Loss of employment or a forced change in careers due to disability or injury

One frequently overlooked aspect of a traumatic accident like a side-impact collision is its effect on a survivor’s mental health. Many individuals experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), frightening flashbacks and nightmares, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. If the accident involved fatalities, the victim might feel “survivor’s guilt” and other overwhelming emotions. A crash can even cause a severe phobia of traveling in cars, known as vehophobia, which can be incredibly isolating and cause challenges in maintaining employment and getting necessary medical care. Survivors of these dangerous crashes frequently require not only extensive medical treatment but also compassionate mental health services to ensure they regain the best quality of life possible.

What Damages May a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You Recover After Your Crash?

Due to the frequent need for ongoing medical care following a side-impact collision, many survivors may find themselves with mounting doctor bills and other expenses that they are struggling to pay. The injuries sustained during the crash can prevent victims from working temporarily or even permanently, making their financial situation even more precarious. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a side-impact crash that was not your fault, a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help you explore your options for recovering compensation for your losses.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to seek a settlement that includes payment for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Property replacement or repair
  • Wrongful death damages, such as funeral and burial expenses, medical treatment costs, and loss of companionship, if your loved one died due to the accident.

Why Reach Out to an Experienced Law Firm?

A side-impact crash is a frightening and dangerous event that can potentially change the course of your life. Having a skilled legal team on your side who can investigate the accident, determine liability, and handle the settlement process on your behalf can give you and your family peace of mind during this challenging time. While you focus on your physical and emotional recovery, our personal injury lawyers at South Sound Law Group will fight to uphold your legal rights and help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Contact our Tacoma law firm today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you: 253-383-3328.