A sideswipe is a common but dangerous type of traffic accident that can easily trigger a loss of control. If you sustained injuries when another vehicle sideswiped yours, you may have the right to claim significant financial compensation from the at-fault driver, an insurance company, or another party.
Here is a look at what causes sideswipe car accidents, what happens if you get sideswiped, and how a car accident lawyer can handle your claim for damages.
What is a sideswipe accident?
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), a sideswipe accident occurs when the sides of two vehicles make contact. It commonly happens when the vehicles involved are traveling in adjacent lanes in the same direction, in opposite directions on an undivided roadway, or while one vehicle is stopped or parked on the roadside.
The initial impact of a sideswipe typically causes relatively minor damage. But even a glancing collision can be forceful enough to cause at least one of the drivers to lose control. As a result, sideswipes often trigger destructive secondary accidents, including head-on or broadside collisions and vehicle rollovers.
What causes a sideswipe accident?
Dangerous driving frequently contributes to the cause of a sideswipe accident.
- Distracted driving, such as when a vehicle veers into an adjacent travel lane because its driver takes their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving safely.
- Alcohol or drug impairment, which interferes with a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely by causing poor muscle coordination and control, visual disturbances, and other motor and cognitive deficits that trigger an accident.
- Drowsy driving, which involves impairments similar to drunk driving, and can lead to a dangerous lane departure from which a drowsy driver will struggle to recover.
- Speeding and other aggressive driving that endangers others on the road by diminishing a driver’s ability to maintain control.
- Lack of blind spot awareness, leading to a driver merging into a lane already occupied by another vehicle.
But sideswipe accidents can also happen when drivers try to do everything right. Narrow lanes, lack of warnings, confusing signage, and other unsafe road features can lead to a sideswipe, for example. So can wet, icy, or slick road surfaces.
Potential Sideswipe Accident Injuries
The initial impact of a sideswipe can cause potentially serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury from knocking your head against a window or the vehicle frame
- Neck and shoulder soft tissue injury from the sudden jolt of impact
- Back injuries from unnatural twisting forces in the collision
- Lacerations or abrasions from broken glass
In addition to these risks, as we’ve mentioned, a sideswipe can easily lead to a loss of driver control and a dangerous secondary collision or rollover. Vehicle occupants face substantial risks of further harm in these second accidents, which may include catastrophic trauma like spinal cord injuries and crushed limbs. Fatalities are also common in secondary crashes following a sideswipe.
What to Do if You Get Sideswiped?
Treat a sideswipe as you would any other type of traffic accident. Stop at the roadside immediately, check yourself and others for injuries, call 911 to report the crash, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and take pictures or video of the damage to your vehicle and the accident scene (but only if you can do so safely).
Equally, if not more, important as the steps above, however, are the actions you take in the hours, days, and weeks after your sideswipe accident. Following the tips below can help protect your legal and financial rights.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
Seek medical attention as soon as possible after any sideswipe accident. Some accident victims decline treatment at the scene or choose not to go to the doctor because they feel okay or think they only suffered minor bumps and bruises. But that can be a deadly mistake.
Some life-threatening injuries like brain trauma or internal bleeding don’t necessarily show symptoms immediately. And the stress of getting into an accident can mask pain. Seeking prompt medical attention is the only safe way to diagnose or rule out severe car accident injuries.
In addition, seeking treatment immediately after an accident ensures documentation of the injuries you suffered because of the sideswipe accident. Medical records can serve as valuable evidence in seeking compensation. They can also protect you against someone disputing the cause of your trauma.
Stick to Your Medical Treatment Plan
If an initial examination reveals accident-related injuries, your rights to compensation will also depend in part on the efforts you make to get better. No one expects you to be a superhero. But it’s important to make reasonable efforts to stick to your treatment plan if you want to obtain full, fair payment. So, go to your follow-up appointments, do your physical therapy, take your medications, and obey any instructions to limit your activities.
Be Careful When Dealing With Insurance
You likely carry auto insurance and that means you probably also have an obligation to notify your auto insurance company about the sideswipe accident. If your insurance covers damage to your vehicle, giving that notice will prompt your insurer to open a claim file and begin deciding how much to pay you.
Be careful. In any conversation with you, an insurance adjuster will look for reasons to justify denying or limiting the amount of your payout. Stick to the facts and do not get drawn into a discussion of whether the accident was your fault.
If someone else’s insurance company reaches out to you to discuss the accident, be doubly careful. The principal reasons you’d hear from another party’s insurer are if it believes it has liability for your losses or that you caused the accident. In either case, the insurer will press you for information it can use to avoid paying a claim to you or its policyholder. In most cases, you have no obligation to speak with someone else’s insurance company, and it’s usually best to avoid doing so until you have a clear picture of your rights.
An experienced sideswipe accident injury lawyer can advise you about your rights and obligations under any insurance policy covering your losses. An attorney can also handle all interactions with insurance companies on your behalf. Often, the smartest way to deal with insurance is to leave it to a legal professional who knows how to advocate for your interests and negotiate a settlement for the maximum available compensation.
Stay Off Social Media
Lots of people chronicle their lives on social media, but it’s a risky thing to do while recovering from a sideswipe accident injury. Insurance adjusters and defense lawyers monitor social accident victims’ media feeds for evidence they might use to defeat an injury claim.
Even innocent posts can get twisted and mischaracterized in a way that harms your right to compensation. The safest way to avoid making a costly mistake is to limit your posting and never to post anything about your accident or injury until your claim has been resolved.
What if the driver who sideswiped you didn’t stop at the scene?
According to the AAA Foundation, more than 700,000 hit-and-run crashes occur yearly in the U.S., and many involve sideswipe collisions. If a driver sideswiped your vehicle and fled the scene, promptly report the accident to the police and share any details you have about the hit-and-run vehicle, such as its make, model, license plate number, or direction of travel. Taking quick action gives you the best chance of holding the hit-and-run driver accountable for your losses.
But don’t lose hope if law enforcement fails to identify the hit-and-run perpetrator. You may still have the right to receive compensation for the harm the sideswipe collision inflicted. Your auto insurance policy, for instance, may include coverage for an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident, which would typically include a hit-and-run sideswipe collision where the at-fault driver can’t be found. Other parties may also share liability for your losses, if their wrongful actions contributed to the cause of the sideswipe.
We encourage you to contact an experienced attorney immediately if you sustained losses in a hit-and-run sideswipe accident. The sooner you have a skilled lawyer on your side, the better your chances of identifying the at-fault driver or, at a minimum, securing compensation from other available sources.
Your Rights to Compensation After a Sideswipe Accident
As the victim of a sideswipe accident, you generally have the right to claim money damages for the losses you’ve suffered because of someone else’s wrongful actions. It might surprise you to find out just how much the law entitles you to receive.
While every case is different, you can typically demand payment from the at-fault party and their insurer (or your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage) for your:
- Costs of medical care for sideswipe accident-related injuries
- Expenses connected to recovering from, adapting to, or living with your injuries
- Lost earnings and job benefits from missing work while injured or disabled
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Daily inconvenience
- Diminished quality of life
If the party at fault for your sideswipe engaged in extreme or intentional misconduct, a court may also award you extra, punitive damages. The most reliable way to learn about the type and amount of damages you might receive after getting hurt in a sideswipe accident is to speak with a skilled lawyer for free about your case.
How an Attorney Can Help After a Sideswipe Accident?
In an ideal world, you would be able to count on receiving immediate, full compensation for your sideswipe accident-related losses from your own insurance or someone else’s. But that’s not the world we live in. Obtaining money to cover your expenses and meet your future needs often takes the know-how, resources, and efforts of a skilled accident injury lawyer.
A lawyer’s job is to represent your interests in every aspect of a sideswipe accident injury claim and to get you as much money as possible.
The right lawyer for your case can usually achieve that goal by:
- Meeting with you in person or remotely, at your convenience, for a free consultation to discuss your situation
- Taking quick action to locate and secure critical evidence, meet deadlines, or otherwise preserve your rights
- Investigating the circumstances of the sideswipe to determine exactly how it happened and who should face liability
- Evaluating your losses to determine the amount of compensation you can rightfully claim
- Answering your questions about your legal options
- Assisting you in making health, life, and financial decisions that may affect your rights
- Analyzing insurance policies to determine if and for how much they cover your claim
- Preparing and filing lawsuits or insurance claims to demand compensation on your behalf
- Negotiating settlements of your claims when possible
- Appearing in court on your behalf, including going to trial to prove your claim to a judge or jury
- Collecting and distributing the money owed to you
Car accident lawyers regularly represent clients in sideswipe accident cases on a contingent fee basis. That means their fees come out of the money they succeed in obtaining on your behalf. They don’t charge you upfront or hourly fees. Instead, they only get paid if they get you results.
Contact a Sideswipe Accident Injury Lawyer Today
Getting into a sideswipe accident is no minor matter. The initial collision might not do much damage, but what happens next can put your life, health, and well-being at extreme risk. Sideswipe accident victims can—and frequently do—sustain severe, catastrophic, or even fatal injuries for which they deserve meaningful compensation from insurance companies and at-fault parties.
If you or someone you love got hurt in a sideswipe accident, you may have valuable legal rights to claim monetary damages. A skilled accident injury lawyer can handle the process of securing the money you need to pay for treatments and plan for the future. Contact an experienced attorney in your area today for a free case consultation.