Although head-on collisions are certainly the deadliest type of automobile accident, side-impact collisions can also be extremely serious, accounting for nearly a fourth of all crashes in the United States. In fact, over ten thousand Americans die annually as the result of a side-impact collision, and many more suffer serious, even lifelong injuries and disabilities. In the past twenty years, the number of side-impact fatalities has risen sharply, likely due to higher rates of speed and the increasing number of SUV’s on the road. Some call a side-impact collision a “T-bone” as the front of one vehicle strikes the side of the other.
The extent of the injuries may relate to the speed the oncoming vehicle was traveling as well as the angle and which area is struck. The relative size and weight of both vehicles is also a factor in the severity of the accident. When a taller SUV or pickup truck hits a low-to-the-ground sports car, the primary area of impact is likely to be the driver or passenger’s head, leading to serious brain injuries.
The Seriousness of a Side-Impact Collision
When the vehicle is hit squarely in the middle, it is likely the injuries will be more serious than if it is hit in the trunk region. Overall, there is simply no protection for the driver of a t-boned vehicle other than side-impact airbags. Unfortunately, this equipment is usually only installed in very expensive vehicles. One in three child fatalities are due to a side-impact collision. Even if the child is properly restrained in an approved car seat, there is inadequate protection to shield them from an oncoming vehicle.
In many cases the vehicle which is hit will spin around, perhaps being pushed into oncoming traffic, compounding the potential injuries. If all passenger vehicles were equipped with side airbags, it is estimated the fatality rate from side-impact collisions would decrease at least 37 percent. However, because side airbags are designed for adult passengers, they may not offer sufficient protection to a much smaller child and could even cause injury.
Where Side-Impact Collisions Occur in Louisiana
Side-impact collisions usually occur in intersections. The driver who strikes the automobile traveling through the intersection may be exceeding the speed limit, ignoring the other driver’s right-of-way or simply not paying proper attention to the surrounding traffic. In some cases the accident is a result of inadequate traffic signage as well. In other cases the driver of the vehicle which is struck has ignored a red light or other traffic control, entering the intersection despite oncoming traffic. Those who routinely accelerate when approaching a yellow traffic light are at a much higher risk of being involved in a side-impact collision.
Injuries Likely Following a Side-Impact Collision
The person sitting on the side of the vehicle that is struck may receive the most severe injuries, although other passengers can be gravely injured as well. Head trauma often occurs during a side-impact collision as the victim’s head is whipped violently from side to side, slamming into the window glass of the door or even the door frame or B pillar. This type of head injury can result in long-term brain trauma, dizziness, chronic headaches, loss of memory or other cognitive issues. Head, neck and chest injuries as well as injuries to the legs and arms are likely. These injuries may include bruises, fractures, cuts and internal injuries ranging from relatively minor to life-threatening. Unfortunately, many individuals involved in side-impact collisions sustain spinal injuries, including herniated or ruptured discs in the neck, mid-back, or lower back. These injuries can require surgery, and can result in lifetime disability.
We Can Help!
The Koederitz Law Firm is a Louisiana law firm located in Baton Rouge. Gary P. Koederitz has over thirty years of experience representing injured individuals in all types of automobile or other vehicular accidents, including side-impact collisions. Because negligence is a primary factor in side-impact collisions, contacting an experienced lawyer can be the most important thing you can do following an accident. At Koederitz Law Firm, we want to ensure that you receive the best representation possible. We will attempt to recover any damages you have sustained, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, property damage, and other damages caused by another driver’s negligence. Call us at (225) 295-9494 to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney about your personal injury claim.