Who is at fault? T-Bone

An interesting case came up this week at Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California. We have a client who was approaching an intersection riding a bicycle on a roadway with the intention of going straight through the uncontrolled intersection. A car coming the opposite direction approached the intersection and turned left in front of her. The vehicle moved directly into our client’s path of travel and caused a T-Bone collision, however, our client was the one who struck the vehicle with her bicycle. So who is at fault?

The insurance company is making the argument that the car had control of the intersection and the bicyclist should have yielded the right-of-way. The rule of thumb when approaching an uncontrolled intersection is that whoever is there first has control of it. But Vehicle Code Section 21801 says a driver intending to turn to the left or complete a U-turn shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement.

We know our client at Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California was close enough to constitute a hazard because if she had not been, a collision would not have occurred. The code section goes on to say that once the yielding vehicle has signaled and it is safe to go, they can make their turn and oncoming vehicles must yield the right-of-way to the turning vehicle.

Remember that a bicycle is treated like a car on the road, they have the same rights and responsibilities and must obey traffic laws just like everybody else. So, our bicyclist was proceeding straight and the other vehicle was turning. Our client states that the vehicle never signaled and she had no idea the woman was going to turn left in front of her until the collision occurred. The woman even admitted to the bicyclist after the crash that she did not see our client and so she thought the intersection was clear.

Downtown Sacramento has a lot of intersections that are either uncontrolled, pedestrian walkway controlled only, or left turn yields on green. All of these types of intersections have the possibility of causing T-Bone collisions. I once worked with a woman who believed that whoever moves first at “left turn yield on green” intersections has control of the intersection. This is NOT TRUE. The people going straight on the green light get to go first, you may turn left AFTER them if the intersection is clear (watch for pedestrians).

T-Bone collisions are bad. Cars are designed to get hit on the front and back because we follow each other. In recent decades more attention has been made to protecting people from injury during sideways hits, but the cars still are not that great when it comes to getting hit that way. It makes your spine move in ways it is not supposed to and it can cause a lot of damage. It is in everybody’s best interest to be more cautious at these strange intersections.

If you have questions about your T-Bone collision and you think you are getting blamed when it was not your fault, give us a call and we can help you figure it out. The bicyclist we represent is going into litigation because the adverse insurance company may have denied liability, but that does not mean we are giving up. We will see that driver in court.

Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California today.