Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injuries in the United States. While there are many configurations in which a collision between two vehicles can occur, three of the most common are head-on collisions, t-bone or side-impact collisions, and rear-end collisions. In each case, establishing which driver is at fault for the accident is essential, since the person at fault is held liable for the medical costs, lost wages and other damages caused by the accident.
Head-on collisions are generally the most serious of all car crashes, and they can lead to catastrophic injuries even at slow speeds. Victims of head-on collisions frequently suffer from ongoing injuries, such as spinal cord damage and head trauma -- if they are lucky enough to survive the accident.
Establishing fault in a head-on collision can be complicated, since many factors often come into play to contribute to such an accident. In order to establish that the other driver is at fault, you and your personal injury lawyer must be able to present evidence that the driver's actions, or lack thereof, lead directly to the accident. If one of the drivers was texting, talking on cell phone, or failed to obey traffic signals, for instance, that person will generally be named liable and will be required to cover the costs associated with the accident.
In some situations where aspects that are outside of one's control come into play, a driver may be determined to be only partially at-fault for an accident. For example, if bad weather conditions or a broken light prevent a driver from seeing a vehicle, leading to a head-on collision, the driver may be held liable only for a portion of the accident-related costs.
Like head-on collisions, T-bone collisions often result from negligence on the part of one driver. If a driver fails to stop at a stop sign, does not look before turning through a signal, or merges lanes without checking his or her blind spot, this person is likely to be named liable for an accident that results from these errors. Side-impact collisions range in severity, but most are less severe than head-on collisions, leading to injuries such as broken bones, dislocated shoulders and torn ligaments.
Establishing negligence in the case of a T-bone collision is not always easy, since by the time the police arrive on the scene, it is often hard to prove whether a driver signaled properly or obeyed a traffic signal. Accounts from eye witnesses and pictures of the scene will help your lawyer make the case against the other driver, so be sure to collect these dutifully after the accident occurs.
The process of determining fault in a rear-end collision is often misunderstood. Many people wrongly believe that the driver whose car collides with the rear end of the other vehicle is always at fault, but this is not always the case.
In most cases, the person whose car does the read-ending is held at least partially liable, because generally the collision results from a driver who is not paying attention or has not left a safe following distance behind the other vehicle. However, there are cases in which the driver of the car that gets rear-ended may be held liable or partially liable. For example, if a driver is rear-ended because his or her brake lights are out or because he or she puts on a turning signal but fails to make a turn, that person can be considered negligent and can be named at-fault for the accident.
Many rear-end collisions are minor because they tend to occur at low speeds. However, some do lead to serious injuries such as neck or back trauma.
If you are involved in a car accident, it's important to call the police immediately, even if you do not think you are injured. Take as many pictures of the scene as possible, and collect statements and contact information from witnesses. Should you discover that you are injured, these items are likely to come in handy when it comes time to establish fault for the accident.