T-bone accidents can be extremely serious. In fact, they account for 23% of all passenger car accident fatalities. (IIHS, Fatality Facts).
In a T-bone accident, a vehicle occupant is struck from the side. The side of a vehicle typically doesn’t have the same structural protection as the front or back. In addition, T-bone accidents tend to happen at high speeds, with little braking before impact. All these factors can make them extremely hazardous for victims.
T-bone crashes often happen in intersections. Determining fault for a T-bone accident in Hawaii often comes down to determining who had the right of way at the time of the crash. In other words, Who entered the intersection when they should not have? Were there any extenuating circumstances that explain why they were in the intersection?
Our Honolulu car accident lawyers explain fault in Hawaii T-bone accidents, and how to determine who is at fault for a crash.
Understanding T-Bone Accidents
A T-bone accident is a traffic collision where the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle. It is characterized by the location of the impact rather than by any specific cause or injury.
Where do T-bone accidents occur?
Most T-bone accidents happen in intersections. One driver attempts to proceed into the intersection without having the right of way or a clear path. If another vehicle is present, a T-bone crash may occur.
Hawaii Traffic Violations that May Result in a T-Bone Accident
T-bone accidents are any kind of accident where there is front impact of one vehicle and side impact on another. There may be many specific traffic violations that cause a T-bone crash to occur. These include:
- Vehicle Turning – Haw. Stat. § 291C-62 – When turning onto a road, alley or driveway, a driver must yield to any vehicle or persons who are already in the intersection and close enough to be an immediate hazard.
- Right of Way/Who Turns First – Haw. Stat. § 291C-61 – When two vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, the one on the right goes first.
- Stop or Yield Intersection – Haw. Stat. § 291C-63 – A vehicle approaching an intersection must stop as required. Then, they must yield the right of way to any vehicle that is already on the highway that poses an immediate hazard. If there is a yield sign, the driver must yield in the same manner so as to avoid being a hazard to other vehicles.
- If there is a crash, and there is a stop or yield sign, the party that didn’t wait until the road was free of hazards is presumed at fault because they did not yield the right of way.
- Stop Lights/Traffic Control Devices – Haw. Stat. § 291C-31 – Drivers must obey traffic control devices, like stop lights.
- Speeding, Driving Too Fast for Conditions – Haw. Stat. § 291C-101 and § 291C-102 – A person may not drive too fast for road conditions and potential hazards present. They must observe the speed limit.
- Driving a Defective Vehicle – Haw. Stat. § 286-21 – Any vehicle driven on the roads must be in good working condition.
These are just some of the Hawaii traffic laws that, when violated, may cause a T-bone accident. In addition, a crash may be the result of a chain reaction. For example, a driver could rear-end someone at an intersection, and push the vehicle in front of them into traffic where a T-bone crash occurs.
Fault for T-bone accidents
The party at fault for a T-bone accident in Hawaii is the party that violated the right of way or other traffic law.
Hawaii’s traffic rules of the road dictate who has the right of way in an intersection. In most cases, the party who moved into the intersection without having the right of way is the party at fault.
Examples of fault for a T-bone accident
Here are some examples of fault in a T-bone accident:
- At an intersection, only one direction has a stop sign. Vehicle A is traveling through with no stop sign. Vehicle B’s direction of travel has a stop sign. Even though Vehicle A has the right to proceed freely into the intersection, Vehicle B cuts them off. A crash occurs. Vehicle B is at fault.
- Vehicle C and Vehicle D are traveling in opposite directions. They arrive at the intersection at the same time. Vehicle C is on the right, so they should go first. Vehicle D doesn’t wait. Vehicle D proceeds into the intersection. A crash occurs. Vehicle D is at fault.
- Vehicle E is traveling through an intersection. They have a green light. Vehicle F is waiting at the stop light to turn left. Vehicle F turns in front of Vehicle E, even though Vehicle E had a green light. A crash occurs. Vehicle F is at fault.
- Vehicle H stops at a red light. Vehicle G is behind them. Vehicle J is coming from the other way, with a green light. As Vehicle G approaches the intersection, their brakes fail. They rear-end Vehicle H, pushing Vehicle H into the intersection. Vehicle J T-bones Vehicle H. The driver of Vehicle G is at fault for having defective equipment.
The fault of any accident is complex. It’s important to talk with an experienced T-bone accident lawyer for specifics about your situation.
Proving Fault for a T-Bone Accident
Proving fault for a T-bone accident often comes down to the facts. You may rely on any of the following to prove fault:
- Who had a stop sign or stop light? Who had the right of way?
- What did the witnesses see? Was the light red or green?
- Did either vehicle show signs of braking before the crash?
- Are there recorders in either vehicle or vehicle cameras? What do they show?
- Was the party with the right of way speeding, such that the driver entering the roadway couldn’t gauge whether they posed a hazard to the intersection?
- Did a third vehicle push a vehicle into the intersection?
- Is there accident reconstruction that could explain the events of the crash?
Fault for a T-bone accident often relies heavily on witness testimony and videos, if available. It is important to thoroughly investigate and document the causes of the crash to determine the right to financial compensation.