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Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Collision in Minnesota?

April 15, 2024 – Paul W. Schroepfer & Robert A. Correia

t-bone collision

Imagine you’re driving through a Minnesota intersection when suddenly, another vehicle slams into the side of your car. You’ve just experienced a T-bone collision, also known as a side impact or broadside crash, where the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another, forming a “T” shape. These collisions are one of the most dangerous types of crashes on the road. As you deal with the aftermath, you find yourself asking, “Who is at fault?”

Determining fault in a T-bone collision is crucial, as it significantly impacts the compensation you receive for damages and the course of your recovery. However, the process is rarely straightforward, with multiple factors to consider and evidence to gather.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the key factors that influence liability in T-bone collisions, from right of way and negligence to vehicle maintenance and weather conditions. We’ll also discuss gathering evidence and provide an overview of Minnesota’s comparative fault system, which can greatly impact your case. 

Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance System

Minnesota is a no-fault state, meaning that after a car accident, each driver’s own insurance company covers their medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault. This is known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.

However, the no-fault system does not eliminate fault entirely. Fault remains crucial in determining liability for vehicle repairs, property damage, and pain and suffering compensation. In a T-bone collision, determining fault is essential because:

  1. Serious injuries or death may allow the injured party to pursue a liability claim against the at-fault driver separate from PIP benefits.
  2. If damages exceed PIP coverage limits, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance may need to cover remaining expenses.
  3. Fault determination impacts insurance premium rates and policy renewals or cancellations.

While Minnesota’s no-fault system provides a basis for seeking compensation after a T-bone collision, the state’s comparative fault system plays a crucial role in determining liability and the allocation of damages. Let’s take a closer look at how the comparative fault system works.

Minnesota’s Comparative Fault System

Minnesota follows a comparative fault system, which means that fault can be shared among multiple parties involved in an accident. Under this system, each party is assigned a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the collision. If you are found to be partially at fault, your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.

For example, let’s say you are involved in a T-bone collision and the total damages are $100,000. If you are deemed 30% at fault for the accident, you would be entitled to receive $70,000 in compensation. However, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you may not be able to recover any compensation for your injuries and damages.

It’s important to note that even if you are partially at fault, you may still be able to recover compensation for your losses. An experienced Minneapolis, MN car accident lawyer can help you navigate Minnesota’s comparative fault system and fight for the compensation you are entitled to under the law.

Factors that Determine Fault in a T-Bone Collision

Several key factors come into play when determining fault in a T-bone collision. The first and most critical factor is the right of way. If you had the right of way and the other driver failed to yield, they would likely be found at fault. This is often determined by:

  • Traffic signals: If the other driver ran a red light or failed to stop at a stop sign, they would be at fault for the collision.
  • Uncontrolled intersections: In the absence of traffic signals, the general rule is that the vehicle on the right has the right of way.

Another significant factor is negligence. Examples of negligent behavior that can contribute to a T-bone collision include:

  • Distracted driving: If the other driver was texting, eating, or otherwise not paying attention to the road, they may be found at fault.
  • Speeding: Excessive speed can make it difficult for a driver to stop in time to avoid a collision.
  • Intoxicated driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly increases the risk of accidents and is a clear example of negligence.
  • Vehicle maintenance issues: If a vehicle’s brakes fail or a tire blows out, causing the driver to lose control and collide with another vehicle, the owner of the poorly maintained vehicle may be held responsible.

In addition to negligence, weather conditions such as rain, snow, or ice, can also be a factor in T-bone collisions. If the roads were slick or visibility was poor, these conditions may be taken into account when assessing fault. However, drivers are still expected to adjust their driving to suit the conditions and maintain a safe speed and following distance.

Steps to Take After a T-Bone Collision

If you’re involved in a T-bone collision, there are several important steps you should take to protect your health and your legal rights:

  • Seek medical attention: Even if you feel fine, it’s essential to get checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries, such as whiplash or internal organ damage, may not be immediately apparent.
  • Report the accident to the police: Call 911 and wait for officers to arrive at the scene. They will create an official accident report, which can be valuable evidence in determining fault.
  • Document the accident scene: Take photos of the damage to both vehicles and any visible injuries. Collect contact and insurance information from the other driver.
  • Contact your insurance company: Report the accident to your insurance provider and begin the claims process. Be honest about the events leading up to the collision, but avoid admitting fault until a thorough investigation has been conducted.
  • Consider hiring a Minneapolis, MN car accident lawyer: If the collision resulted in significant injuries or property damage, a skilled Minneapolis, MN car accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation.

Gathering Evidence to Establish Fault

In the aftermath of a T-bone collision, gathering evidence to establish fault may not be your top priority, especially if you’ve been seriously injured. However, if you’re able to do so safely, or if you have a friend or family member who can assist you, collecting evidence can be crucial for supporting your insurance claim or legal case.

Some key pieces of evidence that can help establish fault include:

  • Police reports: Officers will document the accident scene, take statements from involved parties and witnesses, and provide an initial assessment of fault. Obtain a copy of this report for your records.
  • Witness statements: If there were impartial observers who saw the collision occur, try to get their contact information so that they can provide witness statements later on.
  • Traffic camera footage: Many intersections are equipped with cameras that can capture the moment of impact and the events leading up to it. Your attorney can help you request this footage if it’s available.
  • Vehicle damage assessment: Take photos of the damage to both vehicles, as the location and extent of damage can help reconstruct the accident and determine fault.
  • Medical records: Keep detailed records of your injuries, treatment, and any long-term effects the collision has had on your life. This documentation can help establish the severity of the crash and its impact on you.

If you’re unable to gather evidence at the scene due to your injuries, don’t worry. Your priority should be seeking medical attention and focusing on your recovery. An experienced Minneapolis, Minnesota personal injury lawyer can help you collect necessary evidence and build a strong case on your behalf.

Remember, the more evidence you have to support your claim, the stronger your case will be when dealing with insurance companies or in legal proceedings. However, your health and well-being should always come first.

Are You Dealing With the Aftermath of a T-Bone Collision? 

The aftermath of a T-bone collision can be overwhelming, especially when trying to determine fault and secure the compensation you need to cover your damages. At Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, our experienced Minneapolis auto accident attorneys understand the challenges you’re facing and are here to guide you through the complex legal process.

With 70 years of combined experience in personal injury law, we have the knowledge and skills to thoroughly investigate your case, gather essential evidence, and build a compelling argument on your behalf. Our goal is to help you obtain the maximum compensation you’re entitled to under the law, covering your medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and other related damages.

We believe that everyone should have access to quality legal representation, regardless of their financial situation. That’s why we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t pay anything upfront. We only get paid if we win your case, allowing you to focus on your recovery without the added stress of legal fees.

If you’ve been involved in a T-bone collision, don’t hesitate to reach out to our skilled Minneapolis, Minnesota personal injury lawyers. Schedule a FREE consultation today by calling (612) 333-3343 or completing our online form. Let us help you understand your rights, explore your options, and work toward securing the compensation you need to get your life back on track.

Copyright © 2024. Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A.
1601 HENNEPIN AVE, SUITE 200
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55403
(612) 333-3343
https://www.robichaudlaw.com/ 

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