Who Is Likely at Fault for a Sideswipe Car Accident?
Determining fault in a sideswipe car accident can be complicated. Every accident is different, and even if you think another driver sideswiped you and is at fault, liability can be shared between more than one party. If you have suffered serious personal injuries or vehicle damage in a sideswipe accident, you should consult with an experienced lawyer for help holding the responsible party accountable.
What Is a Sideswipe Accident?
A sideswipe accident is when one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. This can happen in a number of different ways, but often it is the result of a driver forgetting to check their blind spot before merging or changing lanes. This is especially common in situations where the road or highway has several lanes moving in the same direction. Because of their large blind spots, trucks are particularly susceptible to sideswipe accidents. A sideswipe accident can also happen when two lanes merge into one such as a ramp entering the highway.
Other sideswipe accidents happen when one of the vehicles is stationary and the other one is parking or trying to squeeze through a crowded street.
Common Causes of Sideswipe Accidents
In addition to drivers failing to check their blind spots, sideswipe accidents commonly occur for the following reasons:
- Distracted driving. Drivers who are busy texting, choosing music, caring for children, putting on makeup, or eating and drinking can easily overlook another car and cause a sideswipe accident.
- Drunk driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to erratic driving behavior such as drifting in and out of lanes and sideswiping another vehicle.
- Unexpected obstacles. An animal that runs across the road, debris from construction, or objects that fall off trucks can cause a driver to swerve to avoid hitting or running over them. They may instead cause a sideswipe accident if there is a vehicle in the neighboring lane.
- Weather conditions. Snow, ice, torrential rain, and fallen leaves can cause slippery conditions that lead to sideswipe accidents.
Injuries from Sideswipe Accidents
Sideswipe accidents are typically not as violent as a T-bone or head-on collision; however, they can still cause significant damage and serious injuries if contact is sudden and made at high speeds. This is because cars are designed to bear the brunt of an accident in the front or back and these areas have bumpers to absorb the impact of a crash. The sides of a vehicle offer much less protection from collisions.
If one driver suddenly moves out of their lane and sideswipes another car, that car may react by swerving and hitting other vehicles causing a multi-car pile-up. The car being sideswiped could crash into a guardrail, road sign, or concrete barrier. A sudden side impact can also cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and roll over. Injuries from these kind of serious sideswipe accidents can be devastating and life threatening such as:
- Spinal cord damage. Any injury to the spinal cord leaves the victim in danger of full or partial paralysis.
- Soft tissue injuries. These can range from whiplash to internal organ damage.
- Broken bones and lacerations. Arms, knees, and legs are the most commonly affected areas.
- Head and neck injuries. Trauma to the head and neck can include traumatic brain injury.
Determining Liability after a Sideswipe Accident
There are a few ways to prove liability in a sideswipe accident. One is to examine the damage to each vehicle because usually the vehicle with the most damage at the point of impact is the one that was hit. If both vehicles exhibit significant damage where they collided, proving who was responsible could be more difficult.
Video footage can be extremely helpful in showing who caused an accident. Video may be available from dashboard cameras of vehicles involved in the accident or cars that were nearby. Surveillance footage from intersection cameras, neighborhood houses, or businesses may have captured what happened.
Liability for the accident can also be supported through eyewitness accounts. They may be able to report clearly what occurred, whereas the drivers involved in the accident were taken by surprise and preoccupied with getting control of the situation.
What Should I Do if Someone Sideswipes My Vehicle?
After a sideswipe accident or any accident, it is important to stay calm and take the following steps to protect your rights:
- Check for injuries and call 911 if anyone is hurt.
- Move the accident vehicles to a safe place if possible and wait for law enforcement authorities to arrive. It is important to have a police report about the accident to provide to your insurance and in case you decide to bring a personal injury claim.
- Exchange information with the other driver or drivers, including their license number, insurance policy number, and contact information.
- Get contact information from any witnesses to the accident such as other drivers, passengers in any of the vehicles, or pedestrians.
- Document the scene of the accident as much as possible. Take photos or videos of damage to the vehicles and surrounding property, injuries from the accident, road conditions, skid marks on the road, signage or landmarks at the intersection or location, weather conditions, and anything else that may have contributed to the accident.
- See a medical professional immediately for any injuries. If you do not want to use emergency treatment offered to you, drive yourself to an urgent care facility or your own doctor. This is important even if you believe that your injuries are only minor ones. Many accident injuries do not present immediate symptoms, and adrenaline in your system from the accident could be masking the pain you would normally experience. A thorough examination by a medical practitioner can assess your condition and document it as related to the sideswipe accident.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Clients in Sideswipe Accidents
If you or someone you love was injured in a sideswipe car accident, the experienced Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King can help. We will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.