How is Fault Determined in a T-Bone Accident In Illinois?

T-bone accidents, which are also often referred to as side-impact or broadside collisions, are one of the most dangerous types of crash. As of 2019, t-bone accidents accounted for 18% of all traffic fatalities. T-bone crashes are caused by many of the same factors as other crashes, including:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Speeding

These types of collisions can occur in many different ways, but what makes them so unique is that victims are almost always blindsided. Because of this, drivers can’t take evasive actions to avoid the impact, often leading to serious injuries.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a t-bone accident, being able to determine fault is essential for recovering the damages that will assist your recovery and restore your quality of life. But before we cover how fault is determined, let’s discuss the definition of fault.

What is Fault in Illinois?

In Illinois, fault refers to any action or lack of action deemed to  be negligent that leads to injury. 

To put it simply, a driver is negligent (and therefore at fault) if they fail to act as a reasonably-careful driver would act under the same or similar circumstances. However, it’s not always clear who’s at fault, and in some instances both drivers may be at least partially responsible for the crash.

Comparative Negligence

Illinois is one of many states that uses comparative negligence, which dictates that if you are injured in a crash, you can only receive damages or compensation if you are 50% or less at fault. If so, you can recover damages, but the amount you can recover will be reduced in proportion to your share of responsibility.

For example, if you are speeding and someone in the oncoming lane turns left and t-bones  you, you could be partially at fault due to your speeding. Let’s say that makes you 30% at fault. If the jury awards you $100,000 in damages, you would only receive $70,000 to account for your portion of responsibility — that is, the total award minus your 30% contribution. 

Determining Fault in a T-Bone Accident

When you think of a t-bone accident, you probably imagine one car running a red light and crashing broadside into a vehicle traveling through the intersection with the right of way. In reality, it’s not always so clear cut. No matter how or where the t-bone accident occurs, the party at fault will almost always be one of the following:

  • A driver who is actually involved in the crash: This could be the driver who ran a red light or stop sign, failed to yield, took an illegal or reckless left turn, or anything else that caused them to crash into the broadside of another vehicle.
  • A driver not personally involved in the crash, but who starts events leading to the crash: A driver operating their vehicle negligently could lead someone to swerve, or take defensive actions that inadvertently cause them to t-bone (or get t-boned by) another vehicle.
  • A vehicle or parts manufacturer: In rare cases, an accelerator will get stuck, brakes will fail, or another critical vehicle component will malfunction, leading to an otherwise-avoidable t-bone crash.

Insurers typically determine fault by quickly assessing the available evidence. Witness accounts that describe the cause of the crash, police reports filed following the accident, and photographic evidence documenting the scene where the crash occurred all typically have a role in this determination.

However, the conclusions drawn by insurers do not always accurately reflect what happened in the crash. For example, if you were injured in the crash and are not available to tell a police officer what happened, the information relied upon by the insurance company to determine fault will be incomplete.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Prove Fault

If you are involved in a t-bone accident, being able to establish fault is critical and it requires immediate action. This is where a personal injury attorney can help. The trauma of the crash, injuries you sustained, and the time away from work during recovery can take a significant toll on your physical and financial health. You should not have to worry about collecting and preserving evidence, ordering records, appearing in court, or any of the other steps involved in a lawsuit; Your experienced personal injury attorney should take that burden off you. Your focus should be on your health and getting back to your life while your lawyer focuses on getting you the compensation you deserve to make you whole.

Insurance companies will work hard to avoid paying the full compensation you deserve. Thus, you should never rely on insurance companies to do the right thing. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove fault by gathering and assessing the necessary  evidence to build the strongest case possible. For a personal injury attorney who will fight for your rights as a victim in a t-bone accident, contact Brian Lewis today.

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