Drivers often view certain types of crashes as minor accidents that are not that big of a deal. For example, many people think of rear-end accidents or sideswipe collisions as fender benders.
While it is true some of these crashes are not that severe, others can be quite dangerous. Sideswipe crashes, for example, could result in significant damage to your vehicle and serious injuries.
Our licensed Lafayette vehicle accident attorneys discuss sideswipe crashes, including the causes, the damages that may result, and assessing liability.
If you have legal questions after a sideswipe crash, we are here to help. There are no upfront legal costs when you hire our services, and we are prepared to guide you through each stage of the legal process.
What Are Sideswipe Collisions?
A sideswipe collision occurs when the sides of two vehicles hit each other. The two vehicles can be traveling in the same direction or the opposite direction, although when one of the vehicles is going in the opposite direction, it is often a head-on collision. Sometimes these crashes involve one vehicle that is moving and another that is stationary.
Many sideswipe crashes are also blind-spot accidents. For example, if one vehicle crashes into another vehicle traveling in the blind spot of the first vehicle.
Some sideswipe accidents involve a vehicle and a fixed object, such as a guardrail, concrete median, telephone pole or bridge.
What Causes Sideswipe Accidents to Happen?
There are many reasons why sideswipe crashes occur, but most of these crashes are the result of driver negligence.
For example, sideswipe collisions often happen when one vehicle is trying to pass another. If the rear vehicle drifts out of its lane while passing the lead vehicle, the rear vehicle could swipe the side of the lead vehicle. Failing to stay in a lane is an example of negligence, and this is sometimes a result of distracted driving (texting and driving, talking on a cellphone, using a GPS device, eating, drinking, personal grooming, changing radio stations, etc.).
Other forms of negligence that could lead to sideswipe crashes include:
- Failing to signal before changing lanes
- Speeding while weaving in and out of lanes
- Road rage
- Hydroplaning caused by speeding on a wet road
- Two drivers merging into the same lane at the same time
- Impaired driving
- Failing to check your blind spot before changing lanes
- Drowsy driving
- Failing to be aware of how close you are to a parked car
- Failing to yield to another car
Dangers of Sideswipe Accidents
These accidents can cause significant injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Herniated discs
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
These crashes can be particularly dangerous when they happen at high speed. When one of the vehicles involved is significantly larger than the other, the smaller vehicle is more likely to suffer severe damage.
Another factor to consider is that drivers who get sideswiped may jerk the steering wheel and lose control. This can cause them to get into a different accident with another vehicle. If a driver overcorrects at high speed, the car could roll over or spin out.
Determining Fault for a Sideswipe Collision
Under state law, vehicles must be driven within a single lane, and drivers must not move from their lane unless it is safe to do so. That means if you fail to maintain a lane and a crash occurs, you are likely to be found at fault.
Sometimes two drivers attempt to change lanes at the same time and crash into each other. In cases like these, both drivers may share fault.
If another driver forced you to go out of your lane and you crashed into a third vehicle, the first driver may be liable. However, depending on the circumstances, you may also share fault.
One of the central questions about liability for sideswipe collisions is this: Which driver failed to act reasonably to prevent a crash?
If you checked your mirrors and blind spots, used your turn signal, and began to change lanes while a driver from two lanes over began to change lanes, you may not bear fault. The other driver may be entirely at fault.
What If the Other Driver Flees the Scene?
Sometimes drivers who sideswipe other cars decide to quickly flee the scene. They are hoping to avoid liability for the crash. They also want to try to keep the crash off their driving record.
However, fleeing the scene of a crash is a felony and the penalties can include significant fines and possibly prison time. The penalties are likely to be more severe if the crash causes significant injury or death.
However, as the victim of this type of situation, you are more concerned about dealing with the damages you suffered. Legal punishment for the at-fault driver is not going to pay your medical bills and other expenses.
Fortunately, if you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can use it to cover damages from a hit-and-run crash if the police cannot find the driver.
However, if you get the license plate before the car is out of view, you can call the police and they may be able to find the car and driver. If this happens, you may be able to file a claim against the driver’s liability insurance, assuming the driver has insurance. Often, drivers flee the scene of an accident because they do not have insurance.
If the other driver does not have insurance, you could use your uninsured motorist coverage to pay for your damages.
As these situations are complex, it is vital to hire an experienced attorney. That way you will not have to navigate the legal process on your own.
What Should I Do After Being Involved in a Sideswipe Crash?
Your health and safety are the first priorities after any crash. When possible, move your car out of the flow of traffic to reduce your risk of being in a crash with another vehicle.
You are required to call the police if the crash caused an injury or a minimum of $500 in property damage. It is often best to stay in your vehicle while you wait for the police to arrive.
However, if it is safe to do so, you can exchange contact information and insurance information with the other driver. If possible, take pictures of both vehicles, the other driver’s license and the scene. If you have visible injuries, it is a good idea to take pictures of them as well.
While waiting for police to arrive, avoid getting into an argument about the crash. You should also not apologize about what happened, as this could be seen as an admission of fault.
When the police arrive, answer their questions so they can complete a report. After that, you should go to the hospital to seek medical attention. Even though you may only feel minor aches and pains, you could be seriously injured. Waiting to seek treatment is not only bad for your health, but also your claim for compensation.
While you may be tempted to start the legal process and file an insurance claim, it is often best to call a lawyer first. A lawyer can manage the legal process on your behalf.
Call to Talk About Your Crash and Your Damages
Galloway Jefcoat is ready to help you pursue compensation for damages you suffered in an auto accident. There is no financial risk in meeting with us or hiring us to represent you. There are no upfront fees or costs and no fees while we work on your case.
Our firm has been representing crash victims for decades, and we have secured millions in compensation for them. We are ready to help you during this difficult time.
Licensed. Local. Lawyers. Call (337) 984-8020.