A side impact car accident occurs any time there is a collision where the front end or corners of a vehicle strikes another vehicle anywhere at or between the two tires on the side. Side impact crashes can happen at any angle, with the dreaded 90° “T-bone” angle being one of the most likely to cause severe injury and death.

side impact car accident

If you have been involved in a side impact collision, you are very likely to have sustained major injuries and have significant medical expenses. The Long Island side impact car accident lawyers at TonaLaw can help you determine your total damages and seek compensation from the responsible parties. Your financial and medical recovery depends upon your ability to claim this compensation, and so our attorneys will do everything they can to seek the restitution you need.

What Is a Side Impact Car Accident?

A side impact car accident occurs when a vehicle strikes the side tires or body panels of another vehicle. Many car crash reconstruction experts refer to the angle of an impact, or the principal direction of force (PDOF), using a clock image. Imagine looking at a vehicle from the top down, with its front bumper pointing towards 12 o’clock, a side impact collision can refer to any PDOF striking a vehicle from 2-4 o’clock (passenger side) or from 8-10 o’clock.

Side impacts can occur at a number of angles, including an “arrow” shaped collision where a vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle at a 30° – 45° angle. The vehicle may also strike at a perfectly perpendicular 90° angle, leading to what is commonly referred to as a “T-bone car accident.”

Some side impact crashes involve a vehicle striking the wheel well of the other vehicle, rather than the side panels. These can involve an angled collision or a perpendicular collision, sometimes referred to as an “L crash” as opposed to a “T crash.”

Why Are Side Impact Car Accidents Likely to Result in Injury?

There are three major characteristics that make side impact collisions so dangerous:

  1. Vehicles lack protections on the side that are provided in front and rear collisions.
  2. There’s very little distance between the side panels of the vehicle and where the occupants are seated.
  3. The impact forces tend to bring the vehicle hit on its side to a rapid stop, transmitting more forces into occupants from the rapid deceleration.

 According to a 2011 presentation from the University of Michigan International Center for Automotive Medicine, irrespective of impact force, side impact crashes are more dangerous than frontal or rear-impact crashes. 

After studying numerous side-impact accidents and collecting data from trauma units throughout the country,  researchers noted that side impact accidents result in more severe injuries because cars offer very little protection to passengers when compared to head-on collisions Not only will the doors and side panels of the vehicle intrude into the cabin with minimal force, but the structure of the entire vehicle can collapse with significant force. In these high-impact cases, the vehicle frame will warp, forming a banana shape and causing what crash reconstructionists refer to as “wheelbase reduction,” which means the distance between the tires shortens as the vehicle is bent.

In many cases of severe impact, the occupants of the vehicle could be trapped by the intruding doors, the structural deformation of the vehicle seats, and any objects still pressing into the vehicle after the moment of impact.

Common Injuries Inflicted by Side Impact Collisions

Major trauma is common as a result of side impact car accidents. Common types of injuries inflicted can include:

  • Broken bones and joints — The intrusion of the colliding vehicle and the opposing impact forces can easily cause bones to break, including mandibles (jaws), femurs (thigh bones), ribs, forearms (ulna or radius), and clavicles. Knees are highly susceptible in these injuries, as well, and injury victims may require joint replacement in serious scenarios.
  • Head injuries and TBI — The occupants of the vehicle will jerk in the exact opposite direction of the impact, often causing them to strike the window or the intruding door panels. Head wounds, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result.
  • Internal organ damage — The thorax region of the body is extremely vulnerable in a side impact scenario. Debris and fractured ribs could puncture the lungs, stomach, heart, liver, or other vital organs.
  • Neck injuries (Whiplash) — Even in “mild” side impact collisions where there is minimal cabin intrusion, the impact forces will cause a violent jerking motion. These motions can lead to soft tissue damage, and in severe cases ruptured or bulging discs along the upper (cervical) region of the spine.
  • Spinal cord injuries — Major trauma can cause extreme stress on the spine, leading to fractured vertebrae, slipped discs, and in some cases temporary or permanent disability.
  • Crushing injuries — Severe side-impact crashes can entrap occupants, and they are at a high risk of severe and life-threatening injuries

Side Impact Car Crash Statistics

One major reason that side impact car accidents can make driving so dangerous is that they are relatively common. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there were nearly 1.5 million “angle” crashes in 2019, making up 22% of recorded accidents overall. Furthermore, angle crashes led to 531,000 injuries that year, accounting for over 27% of all injury-causing crashes combined. Only rear end injury collisions had a higher percentage of total crashes. However, while 27% of rear-end collisions resulted in an injury, around 36%, or over one-third of angle crashes led to reported injuries.

Further, while less than 1% of side impact car accidents resulted in fatalities, they still accounted for over 18% of the total number of fatalities in 2019.

Example Side Impact Scenarios

The following are likely scenarios that tend to lead to side impact collisions on Long Island.

Departing Lane at High Speeds

Rapid lane changes or dangerous maneuvers, such as “cutting across” multiple lanes at once can lead to an angled collision. Vehicles may also be changing lanes without first checking their blind spot, or they may enter into other lanes without warning, such as when traveling around a curve at high speeds. According to New York’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) data system, 41,740 accidents in the state in 2020 involved citations for improper passing and lane changes.

T-bone Intersection Accidents

T-bone accidents or accidents that occur at a 90° angle are most common in scenarios in which a vehicle has failed to stop properly at a red light, stop sign, or another type of intersection. The vehicle will then collide with another vehicle crossing its path perpendicularly, leading to a dangerous T-bone car accident.

Failure to Yield When Turning or Merging

Often, the vehicle hit on its side may be considered at fault when they are crossing into a roadway with a higher speed through traffic and no requirement to stop, slow, or yield. The impacted vehicle may be merging onto a highway, for example, or they may be attempting to turn left onto a major roadway from a stop.

Talk to TonaLaw When You’ve Been Involved in a Side Angle Crash

All side-impact accidents have the potential to inflict life-changing consequences. Thus, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you navigate through this difficult time. 

With over twenty years of experience, our office is familiar with the deceitful tactics insurance companies utilize so they can pay you less than you deserve. However, at TonaLaw, our clients know their attorney is working tirelessly to get them the settlement they deserve. 

For these reasons, you need a New York personal injury attorney who will ensure you receive compensation for your injuries. For legal services ranging from personal injury and no-fault collections to business litigation, call TonaLaw toll-free today at 1(833) TONALAW or text 1 (631) 780-5355. 

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