Cars are essentially tons of metal driven at high speeds; bad things happen when two of them collide. However, not all car accidents are the same, some simply have greater destructive potential than others. The sideswipe accident, contrary to what you might think, can both destroy property and injure people.
A sideswipe accident occurs when the sides of two cars collide. The initial impact often doesn’t cause much damage—it’s what happens next. The sudden impact of the first collision often jars drivers, who lose control of their vehicles or overcorrect away from the other vehicle. Once this happens, the situation becomes dangerous in an unpredictable way. The car may hit other vehicles, pedestrians, or fly off the road entirely, causing devastating injuries. On the tight and busy streets of Brooklyn, plenty of property and persons find themselves in jeopardy.
There’s an additional reason sideswipes cause so many serious crashes—how easily they may occur. Cars on a multi-lane highway need only swerve a few feet to strike the car traveling beside them. Thus, a momentarily distracted driver, a small object in the road, or even a poorly aligned vehicle, are often all it takes to cause a crash.
For those that survive a severe sideswipe accident, the journey back to normal is often long and painful. The physical recovery can be grueling—surgery, medications, and physical therapy may all be necessary. Victims often face a host of other challenges as well, including medical debt, unemployment, and mental and emotional trauma. The burden on both the victim and their family can be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, many drivers lack basic information about sideswipe accidents, such as why they occur, how to avoid them, and options for legal recourse available to victims.
Brooklyn Sideswipe Accident Causes
Sideswipe accidents in Brooklyn may happen for many different reasons, and multiple factors often play a role in a single accident. However, some of the more common causes include:
Road rage is a serious problem that causes thousands of accidents every year.
In the hectic traffic of Brooklyn, road rage is all too likely to arise. Drivers may become irate when they get cut off, or if they are in a rush and become frustrated with the slow traffic ahead. Unfortunately, they often react extremely aggressively, to the point of road rage. They may try to pass another vehicle without enough space to do so safely, or swerve in another vehicle’s direction to send a message. Such dangerous maneuvering is the exact kind of thing that may result in a sideswipe accident.
Driving Under the Influence
For decades, organizations across the country have campaigned to prevent drinking and driving; unfortunately, the problem persists. Thousands of people are seriously injured every year because someone gets behind the wheel intoxicated.
Drunk drivers tend to swerve while they drive and have difficulty keeping their vehicles centered in the lane, and thus are likely to cause sideswipe accidents.
Driving is a demanding activity that requires full mental and physical engagement. When a driver loses focus, even for a few seconds, catastrophe often results.
Despite the best efforts of policymakers, distracted driving remains a huge problem in Brooklyn and around the country. In Brooklyn, with all of the activity in the streets, there is already more than enough to distract a driver from the road in front of them. But, even more, drivers often attempt to text, comb their hair, do their makeup, or even get dressed while behind the wheel.
Clearly, these activities disable the driver from controlling a vehicle, and swerving into another motorist’s side is likely. A distracted driver might not even notice the impending crash until they feel the impact, and, in a panic, overcorrect and make sideswipe accidents even more dangerous.
It’s difficult for car tires to gain traction on wet or icy surfaces. If a motorist driving in poor weather conditions in Brooklyn tries to change lanes or turn too quickly, a sideswipe accident may easily occur.
Poor road conditions indirectly cause many sideswipe accidents via driver overcorrection—the tendency to slam on the brakes and/or turn sharply upon hitting an icy or wet spot on the road. When a driver overcorrects in these conditions, they’re extremely likely to completely lose control of their car.
Avoiding Sideswipe Accidents
The best way to avoid sideswipe accidents is by observing traffic laws, regulations, and basic road etiquette.
Sideswipe accidents are most likely to occur on multi-lane, high-traffic volume highways. In such an environment, cars are close together and have limited space to maneuver, while some drivers tend to constantly attempt to change lanes to get ahead of traffic. With the slightest error in estimating the room one has between them and another vehicle, a sideswipe accident may occur. Always stay focused, alert, and aware while behind the wheel and avoid aggressive driving.
Brooklyn Sideswipe Accident Injuries
Sideswipe accident injuries can range from minor to severe, depending greatly upon how fast the vehicles are moving, what obstacles are around, and how the drivers react to the initial impact.
In more perilous sideswipe accidents, such as when a driver loses control of their vehicle, victims may suffer severe physical harm, including:
- Orthopedic Injuries: Broken bones and fractures are some of the most common car accident injuries. They are most likely to occur in head-on collisions and rollover accidents. Orthopedic surgery is often required to repair compound and transverse fractures; amputation may be necessary in extreme cases.
- Back and Spine Injuries: When a person’s back or spine is badly damaged, their quality of life suffers tremendously. Specific spinal cord injuries may include fractured vertebrae, dislocated vertebrae, compressed spinal cord, and lacerated spinal cord. In any case, a victim may be unable to walk and temporarily or permanently require a wheelchair or other assistive medical equipment to get around.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): The brain is the control center of the body. When it doesn’t function properly, even the most basic tasks become difficult or impossible. Concussions, brain contusions, coup-contrecoup brain injuries, and diffuse axonal injuries are common in severe sideswipe accidents. Sufferers may suffer from memory loss, reduced cognitive function, and emotional issues. TBI is often treatable, but symptoms may linger for weeks, months, or even years.
- Burns: Cars contain gasoline, electrical wiring, and liquid chemicals—a highly combustible combination. Unfortunately, for this reason, cars tend to catch fire after a high-impact collision, such as is likely to result from a sideswipe accident. If the passengers can’t clear the area and something in the vehicles catches fire, they may suffer serious burns. They may require skin grafts and plastic surgery.
Although most people will recover from a serious sideswipe accident, their injuries may take weeks, months, or even years to fully heal. Meanwhile, they can’t work, attend school, or even complete basic daily functions. Permanent disability becomes a reality for the less fortunate, which may necessitate live-in assistance.
Do I Have a Legal Claim?
To recover compensation after a Brooklyn sideswipe accident, you need to file a claim and have a reason why the other party is responsible for the accident and your injuries. Most sideswipe accident victims claim the other party is responsible because they were negligent.
To establish the other party’s negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the other party:
- Owed them a duty of care—in the case of a sideswipe accident, a duty to operate their vehicle legally and safely
- Violated that duty—by acting negligently, such as texting and driving
- Caused injury due to their violation—and that this injury is more than nominal
Potentially Liable Parties In a Brooklyn Sideswipe Accident
While the other driver in a sideswipe accident is often the liable party, liability may extend to many different parties and entities. To hold any party liable, a plaintiff just needs to prove that their negligence contributed in some way to the accident.
For example, if roads conditions played a role in the accident, you might hold the government entity responsible for their upkeep liable, or at least make it share liability with the other driver. Or, if the driver that caused the accident was a truck driver working for a private trucking company, the trucking company could be liable, if they failed to properly train the truck driver or otherwise helped create the dangerous conditions leading to the accidents.
Determining all potentially liable parties can require a thorough investigation. An experienced car accident lawyer can evaluate the facts of the case and identify all parties against which to bring your claim.
How Are Brooklyn Sideswipe Accident Victims Compensated?
A Brooklyn sideswipe accident victim may be compensated informally through a settlement with the liable party and their insurer, or by obtaining a court award for damages. The basis upon which a settlement amount in either case is normally determined is by calculating the “damages” the victim has suffered.
Damages are generally monetary compensation meant to address the losses incurred by a claimant because of the defendant’s negligence. Courts often use pre-established formulas to calculate damages. In the language of the courts, damages are intended to make the victim “whole again” by returning him to the state he enjoyed before his injuries.
Generally speaking, damages come in two varieties: monetary and non-monetary.
Monetary damages address financial losses suffered by the victim because of the accident. These losses are easy to convert into a dollar amount. In this category are things like medical debt, lost wages, and loss of future income. Proving these claims is fairly straightforward, and sideswipe accident claimants can usually do so by providing documented evidence of the loss in the form of a bill or receipt.
Non-monetary damages address more abstract injuries that are harder to assign a monetary value. This category includes pain and suffering, mental trauma, and loss of consortium with one’s spouse. Demonstrating the existence and value claims can be a challenge, and plaintiffs often must obtain testimony from an expert witness, such as a doctor or psychologist, to prove such damages in court.
Although sideswipe accident claimants normally only recover monetary and non-monetary damages, in rare cases, they may also receive punitive damages. Unlike the first two damages categories, punitive damages do not address the losses suffered by the plaintiff; rather, as the name suggests, they punish the defendant.
When a judge awards punitive damages, they deter both the defendant and society at large from especially egregious conduct. To recover punitive damages in a Brooklyn sideswipe accident case, a plaintiff would need to establish that the defendant’s conduct leading to the accident was extreme, being “grossly negligent” or “willful and wanton.”
In a sideswipe accident, for example, a court might award punitive damages if the defendant caused an accident while drinking and speeding in a school zone.
Most states have statutes that dictate under what circumstances a judge can award punitive damages, including caps on what they can award. New York imposes no cap on punitive damages.
Contact an Experienced Brooklyn Attorney About Your Sideswipe Accident
Thousands of people suffer devastating injuries in sideswipe accidents every year, such as broken bones, dislocations, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal injuries. They may need extensive surgery and physical therapy; some may require live-in assistance for the rest of their lives. Victims and their families are often left not knowing where to turn.
Besides overcoming debilitating physical injuries, victims and their families often face financial hardship, such as medical debt, as well as psychological and emotional trauma. The burden can overwhelm you.
Thankfully, Brooklyn sideswipe accident victims have a legal cause of action. Victims can pursue compensation from responsible parties to hold them accountable and deal with the expenses and impacts they must face because of the accident.
Contact an experienced sideswipe accident lawyer—that’s your first step to recovering compensation after a Brooklyn sideswipe accident. Such a lawyer will understand the important facts to gather and the applicable law. They can launch a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of the accident and find out all who were responsible. Furthermore, an attorney can appreciate the obstacles their client faces, and offer candid advice and an empathetic voice to help victims make the best decisions for themselves and their families throughout the claim process.
Brooklyn sideswipe accident victims shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to an auto accident attorney. Car accident claims often require extensive investigation and may take months or even years to resolve. Additionally, victims only have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in court. Failure to act promptly could mean permanently forfeiting the right to legal recourse.