A side impact accident happens when a car is hit on its side at an approximate 90-degree angle. Another name for these accidents is "T-bone" accidents. There are no major structural barriers between a driver and a passenger in the car that is struck in a T-bone collision, which means that serious injuries to them are highly likely.
Among the potential reasons for a side impact accident are distracted driving, drunk driving, and failure to yield. For example, a driver who fails to follow the road rules related to the right of way at a four-way stop sign may enter the intersection at almost the same time as the car to its right and crash into that car. When a side impact collision happens, the victim may file a personal injury lawsuit.
Often, side impact collisions are the result of negligence. A plaintiff who brings a personal injury lawsuit bears the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. To prove negligence, the victim of the accident must show that the driver who struck his or her car had a duty to act with care to avoid an unreasonable risk of harm, that the defendant breached this duty by failing to exercise reasonable care, that the breach actually and proximately caused harm to the victim, and that actual damages resulted.
What Should You Do After a Side Impact Accident?
Whether you cause a side impact crash or you are a victim of it, you should exchange insurance information with the other driver and obtain the contact information of any witnesses. If you are able to move around, you should document the damages to your vehicle and your injuries.
The other driver's insurer may want to take a recorded statement or speak to you. The goal of the other driver's insurance adjuster is to obtain admissions or other evidence to reduce its insured's liability for the accident. He or she does not have your best interests at heart. It is important to discuss what happened with only your insurer and your attorney.
Often, it's not clear who is at fault. Skid marks at the scene, debris, property damage, the nature of the injuries, and witness testimony may be crucial evidence to determine what happened. Physical evidence disappears over time, and memories fade. That is why it is especially important to contact your own insurer and attorney immediately after the accident, so that any important evidence will be preserved or documented. This is also why many states have short, strict statutes of limitations of one or two years to bring a personal injury lawsuit.
Damages available to a personal injury plaintiff include economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages may include medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, household services, and vocational rehabilitation. Noneconomic damages may include pain and suffering, disfigurement, inconvenience, and loss of consortium. Noneconomic damages are damages that may require the jury to judge intangible aspects of the case, such as how much a person experienced suffering after an accident and whether that person was inconvenienced by the accident. Different juries may come to different results about the nature and amount of a plaintiff's noneconomic damages. For that reason, tort reform supporters in some states have been able to get "caps" or limits placed on the amount of noneconomic damages that may be awarded in particular types of cases.