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Who is at fault in a side-impact collision?

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about one in four of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic accidents in Oklahoma and around the country each year lose their lives in side-impact collisions. These crashes, which are also called T-bone accidents or right-angle collisions, usually occur at intersections, and they are so dangerous because the striking vehicles are often moving at high speeds.

Crumple zones

The bodies of modern passenger vehicles have crumple zones that are designed to absorb the forces of a collision. The only things protecting a passenger vehicle’s occupants in a side-impact collision are the vehicle’s doors and small airbags. These safety features provide some protection, but they cannot deal with the collision energy created by a quickly-moving vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds. Seat belts also do little to prevent serious injury or death in these situations because their primary function is preventing vehicle occupants from being thrown forward in an accident.

Determining fault after a side-impact collision

Side-impact car accidents that take place in intersections are often caused by drivers who ignore stop signs or speed up to avoid red lights. When the facts are less clear cut, allocating blame is done by determining which driver had the right of way. This can be done by viewing footage captured by traffic, security or dashboard cameras or interviewing eyewitnesses.

Avoiding side-impact accidents

T-bone accidents result in catastrophic injuries so frequently because the drivers who cause them are often speeding and the sides of passenger vehicles provide little protection. If you want to avoid being injured or killed in a side-impact collision, you should drive defensively and remain vigilant at all times. You should also approach intersections with caution and check for oncoming traffic even when a stop sign or green light gives you the right of way.