Side-Impact Collisions in North Carolina

Side-impact car crashes account for about a quarter of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the U.S. each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says. Side-impact collisions, also known as “T-bone collisions” or “right-angle collisions,” are dangerous because the sides of vehicles have relatively little space to absorb energy and shield occupants, according to the IIHS.

Side airbags and stronger vehicle structures have increased protection from side-impact collisions in recent years. However, in 2009, roughly one-quarter of the total passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the country occurred during side-impact accidents, the IIHS says.

Drivers and passengers involved in a side-impact collision are likely to suffer injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, pelvis, arms and legs. Where a person is sitting at the time of a T-bone collision has a significant impact on the severity of their injuries.

The consequences of a side-impact collision can be costly for victims and family members. It’s crucial to seek legal assistance when such a crash occurs. By contacting an experienced Raleigh car accident lawyer, you can get started right away on protecting your rights and exploring your options for compensation.

Common Causes of Side-Impact Crashes

Side-impact collisions typically happen at intersections, where cars are more likely to be running perpendicular to each other. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study of cameras at red-light intersections noted that thousands of right-angle crashes at intersections are caused by drivers who run stoplights. (Cameras at intersections reduce right-angle or T-bone crashes by about 25 percent, the researchers said.)

Like most other motor vehicle accidents, side-impact collisions often are a result of driver error. Among the common causes of car crashes are:

  • Speeding
  • Aggressive/reckless driving (including running stop lights or stop signs)
  • Impaired driving (drunk/drugged driving)
  • Distracted driving (chiefly cell phone use and texting while driving)
  • Fatigued/drowsy driving.

Such recklessness is legally actionable if it leads to a side-impact collision that causes injury or death. People who have been harmed or suffered a loss have a right to be made financially whole in such a case.

Typical Injuries in Side-Impact Collisions

A North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) study of intersection configurations says collisions between vehicles traveling perpendicular to one another (at a 90-degree or right angle) result in the most severe injuries. This is because drivers and/or passengers receive the brunt of the impact from the side, where they are the least protected.

Impact injuries, such as those to the chest, abdomen and legs, are more likely in-vehicle occupants closer to the point of impact. Head, neck and shoulder injuries are more likely to be sustained by those located the longest distance from the point of impact.

A North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Can Help with your Side-Impact Collision Claim

If you have been injured or lost a family member in a side-impact motor vehicle collision, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. The North Carolina car accident lawyers at Hardison & Cochran can assess your legal options in a free initial consultation. Call us today toll-free at (800) 434-8399 or complete our online contact form to learn more. We do not charge for our legal services until you recover the compensation you deserve.


  • Side crash test program, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Status Report, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Super street: A Tool for Safely and Efficiently Managing Congestion, N.C. Department of Transportation
  • Red-light Cameras, UNC Highway Safety Research Center