Side-Impact Crashes

Side-impact collisions – sometimes referred to as “T-bone accidents” or “broadside crashes” – often result in significant injuries and are disproportionately fatal as compared to other types of traffic collisions.

Drivers and passengers are at their most vulnerable when they are struck with direct force from the side, where there is nothing but a door and a glass window between their body and a huge mass of moving metal. Seat belts are known to have limited effectiveness when the other vehicle strikes from the side.

The Broward County car accident attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm, know those most commonly responsible for these accidents are red-light runners and drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way at intersections and stop signs.

Side-impact crashes are unfortunately quite common, and the personal and financial consequences are severe. Consider that:

  • Some 3.18 million passenger vehicles in the U.S. are involved in side-impact crashes annually.
  • 1 in 4 accidents total nationwide is a side-impact crash.
  • On average, 9,400 roadway deaths happen in side-impact collisions. That’s roughly 30 percent.
  • Vehicle side air bags are designed to protect adults, not children.

While the number of deaths related to front-impact crashes has dropped over the last two decades, the number of side-impact crash fatalities has spiked by 20 percent. This has largely to do with the fact that there are larger, higher front-end vehicles on the road. The higher ride heights of trucks and sport utility vehicles means in a side-impact crash, the front end hits a passenger car in the relatively weak door supports. Additionally, the higher the height of the striking vehicle, the greater the risk of head injury to those in a lower vehicle. Fifty percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. are sport utility vehicles, light trucks or vans.

For children in the back seat, traffic safety experts note there is an average of just 8 inches of steel shielding them in a side-impact accident. This is why one-in-three child deaths on the roadway are attributed to side-impact crashes. Head trauma is cited in almost all of them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that between 1981 and 2001, deaths in frontal impact crashes slipped from 61 percent to 43 percent. Much of that has to do with strides made in frontal crash protection systems. This is great news. But in the meantime, the number of side-impact deaths climbed form 30 percent to 50 percent.

Safety advocates point to an increase in vehicle speeds and the size of vehicles commonly found on the road.

Side airbags can help to reduce serious injury by cushioning the blow to the head, chest and abdomen. However, those typically only come standard for front seat passengers, not children in the back.

Potential Injuries in Side-Impact Crashes

Side-impact crashes result in the most severe injuries.

Even at relatively low speeds (think 20-to-30 mph), injuries can be severe. Most commonly, the injuries cited in side-impact accidents were:

  • Injuries to the chest/internal organs
  • Injuries to lower extremities
  • Head injuries
  • Injuries to the abdomen, pelvis and internal organs therein

Those on the side that is struck are most commonly injured by the door panel. Those on the other side of the vehicle are most often injured by the person next to them.

Other potential injury sources include flying glass, airbag exhaust, flying objects inside the car and fire in the vehicle. The severity of one’s injuries often depends on the size and speed of vehicles involved, as well as proper seat belt and child restraint usage.

Causes of Side Impact Crashes

The vast majority of side impact crashes are the result of at least one driver’s negligence, which means most are preventable.

The most common causes of side-impact crashes include:

  • Failure to stop completely at a four-way intersection.
  • Failure to yield. This often happens at a four-way intersection when two or more cars arrive at the intersection simultaneously and the vehicle with the right-of-way doesn’t yield as required by law.
  • Red light running. This may be considered clear evidence of negligence per se. These situations too often result in fatalities because the offending driver will speed up just before crossing in an effort to “beat the light.”
  • Unsafely changing lanes of traffic.
  • Failing to properly estimate oncoming traffic when making a right turn at an intersection.
  • Distraction/talking on a cell phone/texting. Taking the eyes of the road for even a few seconds can have fatal consequences.
  • Driving while intoxicated.
  • Driving aggressively or recklessly.
  • Inclement weather, such as fog or heavy rain.

Because of the severity of injuries that result from side impact crashes, it’s important for victims and loved ones to experienced seek legal counsel.

Contact Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyer Richard Ansara at The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 for a free consultation.