Side Impact Collision: How Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyers Determine Fault

As West Palm Beach car accident lawyers, we’re closely familiar with the outsized danger posed by side impact collisions. Even though side impact crashes tend to be less common than front impact crashes, they tend to be much more serious. Determining fault requires analysis of right-of-way, traffic signals, speed, and road conditions (inclement weather, debris, low visibility, etc.). Other factors include driver impairment and distraction and whether the injured person was wearing a seatbelt. Palm Beach car accident lawyer explains fault in side impact collisions

Side impact collisions are a type of motor vehicle crash where the side of one or more vehicle is impacted.

Sometimes referred to as T-bone accidents, we often see these at intersections, parking lots, and in scenarios where two cars or other vehicles pass each other on a multi-lane road.

Why Side Impact Crashes Are So Serious

According to a 2016 study, side impact collisions accounted for about 30 percent of total crashes, but 35-45% of passenger fatalities and serious injuries, compared to 55% in head-on collisions. Even in newer, safer cars and at lower speeds, side impact crashes still tended to have higher injury rates.

Factors that can make side impact collisions more serious:

  • Fewer built-in protections. When a car is struck head-on or even in a rear-end crash, both the driver and passengers have greater distance and structural protection from the point of initial impact compared to a side-impact crash – particularly for those on the side that is struck directly.
  • More vulnerable body parts impacted. Most rear- and front-impact crashes tend to result in serious injuries to the legs and feet, while side impact crashes tend to hit the chest and head harder.
  • Minimal avoidance action. A driver who is struck on the side by another may not even see the other car coming – and therefore may take little evasive/avoidance action to minimize the crash.
  • Vehicle size disparity. More than half of all new vehicles purchased in 2021 were SUVs. Anytime passenger cars collide with light trucks or SUVs, it’s former that usually sustains the greatest damage – regardless of which was the striking vehicle. But when a smaller vehicle is struck on the side by a larger vehicle, the damages tend to be very significant.

According to one study by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, rear seat occupants were most likely to suffer the most serious injuries in side impact crashes.

Why Does Fault Matter in a Palm Beach Car Accident Case?West Palm Beach side impact collision lawyers

Although Florida is a no-fault system when it comes to car accidents, determining fault is still important in more serious accidents. If your injuries caused less than $10,000 in losses (for wages, medical bills, etc.), fault may not matter because you’ll be collecting damages from your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy.

However, side impact crashes tend to be more serious, and injuries are more likely to meet/exceed the serious injury threshold, as outlined in F.S. 627.737. In those instances, injured parties can pursue damages from those at-fault – either the driver of the car in which you were a passenger or the driver of the other car.

Even if you, as one of the drivers, were partially at-fault, you can still collect damages so long as you aren’t more than 50% to blame. (When you, the plaintiff, are partly to blame, this is called comparative fault.)  If you’re 50% at-fault, you can still collect up to 50% in damages from the other driver. However, if you are 51% at fault, you are not entitled to anything.

For this reason – and because damages are proportionately reduced depending on your own degree of responsibility – fault determinations are important because they can dictate how much money you walk away with.

Who is Most Often At Fault in West Palm Beach Car Accidents With Side Impact?

Usually in side impact crashes, the vehicle with front impact is at-fault. But that’s not 100% always the case.

Exceptions might be:

  • A vehicle that gets broadsided after running a red light or stop sign.
  • A driver making an unsafe left turn who fails to yield the right-of-way to a driver going straight.
  • A driver who suddenly pulls out of a driveway or parking lot into oncoming traffic without looking for oncoming traffic or yielding the right-of-way.

As skilled Palm Beach car accident attorneys, we will carefully review the physical evidence (skid marks, crash damage, photographs, video surveillance footage), as well as witness statements, police reports, medical documentation, etc. We may call on our expert witness contacts to review the information we have to help us determine not only who was at-fault but to what extent. Our investigation can be used to challenge the insurance company’s conclusions if those were not in our client’s favor.

Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Side Impact Collisions and Related Lawsuits, Justia

More Blog Entries:

Being Drunk Doesn’t Nullify Florida Pedestrian Accident Injury Claim, May 25, 2024, Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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