Who Is At Fault in a T-Bone Accident?

Car Accident | December 29, 2021

One of the worst types of car accidents is the T-bone collision. These crashes often cause serious to catastrophic injuries and deaths. In Massachusetts, if your injuries are serious enough, you can file an insurance claim against the at-fault party. Finding out who is at fault for this type of accident can help you understand your rights as a victim.

What Is a T-Bone Accident?

A T-bone accident is another word for a side-impact or broadside collision. It is when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another, forming a “T” shape. Either the driver or passenger side of a vehicle could get hit by another car in a T-bone accident. T-bone accidents occur the most often at intersections, but they can happen any time one vehicle crosses the street. Whenever two vehicles are perpendicular to one another, it runs the risk of a T-bone accident.

How Do T-Bone Accidents Happen?

Determining legal and financial responsibility (liability) for a T-bone accident requires reconstructing how the crash happened. Investigators may need to return to the scene, review eyewitness statements and video footage, analyze the property damage, and take other steps to piece together how the crash took place. Only then can they determine who is at fault. The most common circumstances behind T-bone accidents are:

  • Left-turn accident. If one driver makes an illegal or dangerous left turn in front of oncoming traffic, this can cause a side-impact collision. When a light turns green, a driver making a left-hand turn typically must yield to oncoming vehicles. Failure to do so can cause an accident. Making a U-turn across traffic can also result in a T-bone crash.


  • Running a red light or stop sign. Red lights and stop signs prevent two opposite directions of traffic from being in the same intersection at the same time. If a driver breaks the law by running a red light or rolling through a stop sign, he or she may collide with an oncoming vehicle. These types of collisions are often at high speeds, as a driver may speed up to try to “make” the yellow light.


  • Leaving a parking lot. Pulling out of a driveway or parking lot can cause a T-bone accident if the driver does not look to see if the way is clear before proceeding. Pulling out in front of an oncoming vehicle may not give the driver enough time to stop, resulting in a T-bone collision.

Rather than looking at who T-boned who, determining fault for this type of crash requires analyzing who was in the wrong place at the wrong time; who did not have the right-of-way or who was breaking a traffic law. This will point to the driver who is liable for victims’ losses, if the injuries inflicted by the accident meet Massachusetts’ serious injury threshold.

Who Pays for a T-Bone Accident in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts is a no-fault car insurance state, meaning that an injured victim will seek reimbursement from his or her own insurance company, in most cases. Even if the driver did not cause the crash, his or her insurer will pay for medical bills and property damage, without requiring the policyholder to prove that the other driver is to blame. If the driver’s injuries are serious, however, the driver can file a fault-based claim against the other driver instead.

A serious injury in Massachusetts is one that requires more than $2,000 in reasonable medical care, causes severe and permanent disfigurement, loss of hearing or sight, or broken bones. If a T-bone collision causes serious injuries, the victim can bring a claim against the at-fault driver outside of the no-fault system. In this scenario, however, the driver must prove fault. If you find yourself in this situation, contact a car accident attorney in Lowell, MA to help you. A lawyer can help you establish fault for a T-bone accident.