Who Is At Fault in a Broadside Collision?

Who Is at Fault in a Broadside Collision?

When it comes to motor vehicle crashes, one that we fear the most is a T-bone crash, also known as an intersection accident or broadside collision. We do this because, while most of us think that we could survive a crash to the front or rear end of the vehicle because we know that there are crumple zones built into those portions of most passenger cars, most of us worry that’s not as much the case with the side panels of our vehicle.

While the installation of side airbags has certainly improved the safety of passengers in recent years, injury dangers still exist. If you’ve been harmed in a crash like this, you may be wondering who is at fault in a broadside collision. Keep reading for an answer to that question.

Causes and Fault for T-Bone Crashes

As for the question, “Who is at fault for a broadside collision?” That all depends on who violated traffic laws, giving way to the crash. Since T-bone wrecks like these often result from one of the following factors, who committed one of these infractions will dictate where the fault lies:

Motorists run traffic signs or signals: This driving behavior falls into the category of failing to yield to the right of way of other motorists.

Distracted driving: Motorists may be talking or texting while operating their vehicle, or they might be so focused on what someone else is doing in their yard or driveway, or what’s happening in another car, or even just a conversation they’re having with someone else in their car, to notice that an intersection lies ahead or that someone is pulling out of a driveway or parking lots and getting ready to crash into them (or vice versa).

Driving while intoxicated: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can not only affect a motorist’s ability to make sound judgments but also coordination and, thus, reaction times, which can give way to a motorist causing a crash at an intersection.

As you can likely surmise, if a motorist runs a red light, causing a broadside crash, you may plausibly conclude that they’re responsible for it.

Conversely, if you pull out of your driveway into an active lane of traffic and strike a driver’s car because you were distracted and didn’t notice there was an oncoming vehicle, it’s likely that you would be deemed at fault for a crash.

However, determining fault may not be as straightforward as it seems on the surface.

How the Pure Comparative Fault System Impacts Your Compensation

New Mexico is one of many states that have a pure comparative negligence system in place. What does that mean? Under that fault system, each party involved in a crash is assigned a certain percentage of fault for its occurrence.

Of course, you can certainly be 0% at fault for it, and the other motorist can be 100% at fault for it, but what is the likelihood of that being the case?

Take the example of a motorist pulling out of their Albuquerque driveway into traffic. The motorist riding in an active traffic lane would typically have the right of way. Even if the coast is clear when they pull out, a car can fast approach, especially if it’s traveling around a blind corner.

If a motorist doesn’t account for that potential and a car fast approaches, colliding with them, both parties may share in fault for what happened. In this case, the one motorist could plausibly be at least partially at fault for the broadside wreck for right-of-way reasons and not adequately gauging the time they had to join traffic.

And, since the other driver was speeding, which affected their braking distance and thus their ability to avoid causing a crash, they too could share in responsibility or fault for causing it.

Keeping with the explanation of how our state’s pure comparative negligence system started above, your ability to recover compensation for your accident-related losses is reduced by your percentage of the fault.

So, even if you, unfortunately, suffer catastrophic injuries, your ability to recover money to pay those medical bills or reimburse lost wages you incur depends on how responsible you are for what happened.

For example, if you’re deemed 30% at fault for the crash and the other driver 70% and you incurred $100,000 in losses from your involvement in it, you would be at most eligible to recover $70,000.

Understanding How Fault Determinations Occur

The New Mexico Uniform Crash Report requires responding police officers to document information about the motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists involved, along with details about where the crash occurred, potential contributing factors that caused it, and citations issued.

There’s no block where the police officer must assign fault, though.

Fault and liability work in tandem with one another. Whoever is at fault for it can be held financially liable for any resulting damages. However, one reason our Albuquerque car accident attorneys often

advise clients to be careful who they speak to after a crash is because these two concepts are sometimes “flexible.”

What do we mean by that?

Well, the crash report is considered to be evidence. It’s supposed to merely document what the responding officer saw and did at the accident scene.

Insurance adjusters and attorneys like ours conduct investigations, and this ultimately dictates whether injured parties file legal actions and, if so, against whom. And, depending on what fault or liability determinations are reached through those investigations, it dictates who you can sue and for how much, thus affecting your recovery amount.

So, as you can likely see, since determining fault for broadside accidents and others isn’t always straightforward, it’s best left to leave such decisions to competent legal professionals.

That way, if they do decide you have a valid claim after speaking with you about what happened at a free consultation, they can help you build a case that is strong enough to help you recover the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.

Give our office, Barrera Law Group LLC, a call to speak with a lawyer during a no-risk, no-obligation conversation. We’re standing by.