A T-bone accident happens when the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle. It’s also called a side impact accident or broadside accident because of the location of the impact. Most of the time, a T-bone car accident is an intersection accident, but it can also happen any time a car crosses a roadway or street.

The key in this type of car accident is that the cars are going perpendicular to each other. If it happens to you, you need to contact our dedicated and knowledgeable car accident lawyers.

This is when determining fault will become critical.

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How Is Fault Determined in a T-Bone Accident?

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In a T-bone accident, who’s at fault cannot be determined by who t-boned whom Instead, fault in a T-bone accident depends on which car had the right to be moving forward. This is called the right of way. Both cars cannot have the right of way. In a t-bone accident, one vehicle had the right of way, and the other vehicle violated that right of way.

The car that did not have the right of way will always have T-bone accident fault. However, the car that did have the right of way may also have some fault for not recognizing what the other driver was doing. Unfortunately, there is rarely evidence at the scene to help figure out which vehicle had the right of way.

Who’s at fault in this type of side impact accident will almost always come down to what the drivers and the witnesses say happened. When the drivers both claim they had the right of way, it will come down to who sounds more credible.

Your skilled car accident lawyers in Wesley Chapel, FL will use evidence to prove that the other driver was at fault in your crash. One thing that is important to remember during this process is that the other driver’s insurers are going to try to trick you into making statements that will allow them to place more fault on you.

Who Is at Fault in an Intersection Accident?

Most t-bone accidents happen at an intersection with a traffic control device. According to the NHTSA, this can happen because drivers may make incorrect assumptions about what another driver will do next. For example, one of the vehicles involved may think they have the right of way when they don’t. As a result, that vehicle moves across the intersection into oncoming traffic when the other driver wasn’t expecting it.

Some of the other most common causes of T-bone intersection accidents are:

Left Turn Accidents

A left turn T-bone accident that happens at an intersection can be either driver’s fault. Sometimes the driver making the left turn thinks a red light has turned green when it is really red. When the driver makes the left turn, it may do so in front of a vehicle going the opposite direction that actually has the green light.

Other times, the reverse happens. The car making the left turn does have the green light and has the right of way to make the turn. However, the car traveling in the opposite direction thinks the light is green for them when it is actually red. Either way, the impact is usually severe, because one or both of the cars will be traveling at a very fast speed.

Running a Red Light

In this type of T-bone accident, the drivers are driving perpendicular to each other. They are destined to cross each other’s paths. They both think they have the green light, and therefore they both think they have the right of way. As a result, both cars will usually be traveling at the full speed limit for the road. Whichever car actually had the red light will be at fault.

Running a Stop Sign

A T-bone collision can happen at a four-way stop, but they are not as likely. This is because one or both cars came to a complete stop before entering the intersection. This gives the drivers enough time to recognize what is about to happen and stop in time.

The most common type of T-bone collision involves one car having a stop sign while the other car has no traffic control device. In this type of T-bone crash, it’s easy to determine who is at fault. The driver that had the stop sign will always have fault because that driver did not have the right of way according to Florida Statute §316.123.

Who Is at Fault When There Is No Intersection?

Sometimes a t-bone accident can happen when there is no intersection at all. The vehicle crossing the roadway will always have fault in this type of accident because they do not have the right of way.

Leaving a Parking Lot

When a car is leaving a parking lot that does not have a traffic control device, the driver of that car has an obligation to ensure the traffic is clear in both directions before crossing the street. When the driver does not see a car coming, they may pull out to cross the street and cause a T-bone accident.

Making a U-Turn Across Traffic

Making a U-turn is not always a safe thing to do. If the driver making the U-turn fails to recognize a car coming the opposite direction, they may pull into traffic and get hit on the side. The driver making the turn will be at fault in this situation.

Can the Car that Has the Right of Way Be at Fault?

The car that does not have the right of way will have fault in the T-bone accident. However, the car that had the right of way can also have some fault as well. That’s because the car with the right of way has a duty to pay attention to the road ahead and anticipate that a driver may cut across traffic.

Common ways a car with the right of way may have some fault in a T-bone accident are:

  • When a car crosses many lanes of travel before the T-bone occurs
  • When a driver fails to have headlights on when it is dark outside
  • When a driver was speeding
  • When a driver was distracted by the radio, texting, or talking on the phone
  • When a driver was drunk or driving while high on drugs
  • When there was brake failure because the vehicle was not properly maintained

When Will Third Parties Have Some Fault?

Sometimes it’s not just the drivers involved in the crash that have fault in a T-bone accident. For example, a repair shop may not do a good job at fixing one of the car’s brakes. Other times a repair shop may not do a good job in repairing a car’s headlights. If this happens, the repair shop may have some fault in what happened.

Malfunctioning traffic control devices may also play a role in a T-bone accident. Sometimes the lights totally shut down and give no signal at all. If this happens, drivers might not realize they are about to enter an intersection. In this circumstance, the crash may be the fault of the traffic control device and one or both drivers.

Sometimes it may not be either drivers’ fault. This can happen when the traffic control device malfunctions. This can also happen when the traffic control device gives both drivers a green light. It can also happen when a traffic control device gives one driver a turn signal and the crossing driver a green light. While it is possible for these things to happen, it is very unlikely.

Filing a Lawsuit After a T-Bone Accident

In a T-bone accident settlement, your car accident lawyer will need to prove fault before your settlement amount can be determined. This is because the fault laws in each state will determine how much your potential t-bone car accident settlement may be.

For example, in one state you may not be able to collect any compensation if you are more than 1% at fault, while in another state you may be able to claim damages even if you’re 50% at fault. In some states, the party who is found to be the most responsible will be responsible for all damages.

The kind of damages you can collect will depend on many factors related to your case, including who was at fault, the severity of your T-bone accident injuries, and whether or not you are still able to work. Schedule an attorney with a personal injury attorney who has experience in T-bone accident cases if you’ve been in a wreck and you want to know more about your options.

Florida injury lawyer Scott Distasio If you have been injured in an automotive accident, get in touch with one of our dedicated car accident lawyers near you now for a free consultation. We have offices in Tampa, Wesley Chapel, and Largo.


Our main office is here in Downtown Tampa, Florida in the Channelside neighborhood. Office in Wesley Chapel and Largo are available by appointment only.

Distasio Law Firm