A sideswipe accident, sometimes known as a “blind spot” accident, is when cars traveling parallel to one another collide. Especially on roads with multiple lanes traveling in the same direction, drivers can accidentally sweep the side of a vehicle traveling beside them while attempting to merge or carelessly drifting into another lane.
Though the impact of these collisions can be gentle compared to other collisions, they can still cause serious injuries. Sideswipe car accidents sometimes make drivers lose control of their vehicles, swerve into other lanes, drive off the road, or flip over.
Car accidents are not only expensive, but they can cause permanent physical and psychological damage. Our lawyers fight to get our clients the money they deserve. If you or a loved one have been injured in a sideswipe accident, call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.
What Causes Sideswipe Accidents?
A significant cause of sideswipe accidents is careless merging. Consider the following scenario. On the way home from work, a driver is sitting in a lane on the highway crawling along. The lane next to him, however, is flying by. He thinks he sees an opening, steps on the gas, and merges into the other lane. However, he does not look carefully enough, and his vehicle collides with the side of a vehicle he overlooked was traveling in the lane.
Merging without checking blind spots and recklessly merging onto a highway or another road are also scenarios that can lead to a sideswipe. Sometimes, drivers do not intend to merge but unintentionally drift into another lane. Distracted or drunk driving are culprits here, along with adverse weather conditions.
Sometimes drivers notice they are drifting and swerve with a jolt back into their lane, only to hit somebody who has come up behind them or lose control. Debris or animals on the road can force drivers to swerve into another lane and risk hitting a passing vehicle. Sideswipe accidents can also happen with stationary objects, such as parked cars.
Accidents involving trucks and motorcycles are frequently sideswipe accidents. These collisions are even more dangerous than a typical sideswipe due to the size discrepancy between the two vehicles involved. It is common for trucks to crash this way due to the large blind spots on their sides. Motorcycles are smaller and more likely to be missed when checking blind spots.
What Are the Consequences of Sideswipe Accidents?
Sideswipe accidents are unpredictable. The injuries and property damage resulting from sideswipe accidents depend on the scenario. Generally, sideswipe accidents are less severe because there is less of a sudden, forceful change in velocity than in other types of accidents.
For example, if two vehicles brush each other on the side, but both drivers can control their cars, there may only be minor property damage. However, the consequences may be more severe if a driver loses control of their vehicle. Swerving can cause additional collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects. On fast-moving roads, cars may pile up or flip over.
Impact on the side of a car can cause injury to those in the front and rear seats. Sometimes, those in the rear of the car are more at risk of injury, unlike in other types of accidents. Injuries from impact to the side of a car include whiplash and damage on the side of the body nearest to the point of impact.
The neck, chest, abdomen, elbow, and pelvis are commonly injured areas. Severe accidents may injure the spine or rupture the thoracic aorta, a large artery that runs through the chest.
However, if further accidents result from a sideswipe, the forces put on the occupants inside the car and the amount of the car’s body that is compromised becomes much more complicated, making the types of possible injuries harder to predict.
As with any collision, sideswipes can have a much more severe impact on vehicle occupants when there is a significant size difference between the two vehicles. Motorcyclists, for example, are at risk because they are small and harder to see, while commercial truck drivers need to take extra caution while merging to avoid hitting vehicles in their blind spots.
Sideswipe Accident Injury Statistics
Sideswipe accidents can result in various injuries, from minor scrapes and bruises to severe injuries and fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sideswipe collisions accounted for approximately 5% of all reported crashes in the United States in 2019.
In 2019, there were a total of 258,000 sideswipe accidents reported, resulting in approximately 55,000 injuries and 1,300 fatalities. Of those injured, approximately 40% sustained minor injuries, while the remaining 60% suffered moderate to severe injuries.
Some of the most common injuries resulting from sideswipe accidents include whiplash, head and neck injuries, back injuries, broken bones, and internal organ damage. The severity of the injury often depends on factors such as the speed of the vehicles involved, the angle of impact, and whether the occupants were wearing seatbelts.
In 2017, 12.3% of collisions were sideswipe collisions. That year, sideswipes accounted for 2.8% of fatal collisions, 6.4% of collisions that caused injuries but no fatalities, and 14.9% of collisions that only caused property damage.
This makes sideswipes more of a concern than collisions with guard rails, for example, but somewhat less of a concern than rear-end and side-impact/angle collisions, which account for 54% of all crashes.
Unlike other collisions, sideswipe and rear-end collisions are more likely to occur on clear days and straight roads. Icy roads are positively correlated with fatality risk in sideswipe accidents.
Who Is At Fault in a Sideswipe Accident?
There is nothing more important to a car accident claim than establishing fault. If you are going to sue somebody, it has to be clear that they were the ones that caused the accident.
If you call the police to the scene, their report may help to verify what happened. However, sometimes witness reports and photos of the vehicles, and the accident scene are more useful in your case. Read more about winning your claim here.
You may wonder who pays for the sums won in a settlement or lawsuit. Damages are paid by the defendant’s auto insurance company and rarely by the defendant. We also provide information on dealing with many different insurance companies.
The Process of Determining Fault
Determining fault in a sideswipe accident can be complex and depends on the specific circumstances of the collision. In some cases, one driver may be clearly at fault, while in other cases, both drivers may share some degree of fault.
Generally, the driver who initiates the sideswipe collision is considered at fault. For example, if a driver changes lanes without signaling or checking their blind spot, causing them to collide with another vehicle, they would likely be considered at fault for the accident.
However, there are situations where both drivers may share fault in a sideswipe accident. In Maryland, that means no one recovers under our contributory negligence law. For instance, if two vehicles merge into the same lane at the same time and collide, both drivers may share responsibility for the accident.
External factors such as road conditions or mechanical failure may also contribute to the accident. For instance, if a driver loses control of their vehicle due to a pothole or tire blowout and collides with another vehicle, the driver may not be solely at fault for the accident.
Insurance companies and law enforcement will examine evidence such as witness statements, vehicle damage, and traffic camera footage to determine fault in a sideswipe accident. If a lawsuit is filed, a judge or jury will determine fault based on the evidence presented.
Sideswipe Accidents Verdicts and Settlements
Below are some recent verdicts and settlements from other law firms in sideswipe injury cases. Some are from Maryland, and others are from around the country. They can help you understand the value of car accident cases.
To better determine the value of your claim, you should also consider the type of injury. This is often a better predictor than the type of accident. In many of these cases, the defense disputes either (1) that their client was solely at fault for the accident or (2) the true origin and severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.
- 2023 Florida, $35,460 Verdict: The plaintiff was a passenger in a shuttle van when the van side-swiped another vehicle attempting to make a left-hand turn at the intersection of Old Beach Road and A1A South. Liability between the two drivers was contested because the side swipe involved nearly simultaneous lane changes. The jury found that the van driver was at-fault and awarded $35k for unspecified injuries.
- 2022 Washington, $85,000 Settlement: The plaintiff, a 15-year-old minor, was a rear-seat passenger in her mother’s vehicle on her way to school. The defendant, traveling in the opposite direction, allegedly fell asleep at the wheel, drifted over the center line, and side-swiped the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff alleged injuries included Traumatic brain injury (TBI), diagnosed as a concussion, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and photosensitivity.
- 2021 California, $35,004 Verdict: A motorcyclist was sideswiped. He suffered a concussion, cervical spondylosis, spinal enthesopathy, cervicalgia, lumbar spondylosis, spinal radiculitis, myalgia, and myositis. The man sustained post-concussion syndrome. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed he excessively sped and made unsafe lane changes. A jury awarded $35,004.
- 2021 Louisiana, $49,885 Bench Verdict: A man was sideswiped on an interstate highway. He suffered personal injuries. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he drove inattentively and failed to watch the road. A jury awarded $49,885.
- 2021 Pennsylvania, $35,000 Arbitration Award: A cyclist was sideswiped. He fell to the ground. The man broke his pelvis. He sustained post-traumatic headaches. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he failed to control his vehicle, pay attention to the road, and travel at appropriate speeds. Following arbitration, the man received $35,000.
- 2021 California, $450,000 Settlement: A woman was sideswiped at an interstate off-ramp. She sustained complex regional pain syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he unsafely operated his vehicle. This case settled for $450,000.
- 2021 Washington, $85,000 Settlement: A 15-year-old girl was being driven to school by her mother. They were sideswiped. The girl suffered a concussion. She sustained headaches, fatigue, nausea, and photosensitivity. The girl’s mother alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he drove while tired and failed to stay in his travel lane. This case settled for $85,000.
- 2020 California, $500,000 Settlement: A woman traveled along a freeway. She was sideswiped by a truck. The woman injured her neck, back, shoulders, and left side. She initially sought chiropractic treatments and spinal injections. The woman ultimately underwent a spinal procedure. She alleged that the truck driver’s unsafe lane change caused her injuries. This case settled for $500,000.
- 2020 Washington, $78,353 Verdict: A 30-something pregnant woman at eight months traveled along an interstate highway. She was sideswiped by a drifting vehicle. The woman injured her neck, back, abdomen, and hip. She also sustained emotional distress. The woman feared that the collision negatively impacted her unborn child. She experienced increased blood pressure which prompted an earlier delivery. The woman’s injuries made breastfeeding and childrearing difficult. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed she failed to stay in her travel lane. A jury awarded $78,353.
- 2020 New Jersey, $200,000 Verdict: A woman traveled along a state highway. She sideswiped. The woman injured her lower back. She underwent a lumbar procedure. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she failed to keep her eyes on the road. The jury awarded $200,000.
- 2019 Texas, $101,000 Verdict: A man is leaning on his car parked on the shoulder of the road. His car is sideswiped by a city bus. Since the man was leaning on the car when the accident occurred, he suffered severe injuries. He files a lawsuit against the driver of the bus and the city’s transit authority. However, when the trial begins, only the transit authority is listed as a defendant. There is some dispute about whether the plaintiff was also at fault. However, the jury determines that the defendant was still 70% at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries, and awards the plaintiff over $100,000 in damages.
- 2019 Texas, $29,000 Verdict: A man driving a company vehicle veers into a car, forcing the car into a nearby retainer wall. The driver of the car suffers injuries to his neck and back. He files a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle and his employer. The driver, he claims, did not keep a proper lookout, drove too fast, and failed to apply the brakes or otherwise maneuver to avoid the crash. The defendants deny these allegations, but a jury awards the plaintiff driver compensation for medical expenses along with his past and future pain and suffering.
- 2019 Connecticut, $20,000 Verdict: A woman is driving in the right lane and is sideswiped by another driver traveling in the left lane. At the time of the crash, the at-fault driver was using his cell phone and speeding. He was not paying attention to his driving. The at-fault driver did not own the car he crashed. The owner, a relative of the driver, is legally responsible for the damages caused to the woman by the crash. The jury’s award to the plaintiff includes compensation for past medical and pain and suffering damages.
- 2019 New Mexico, $6,500 Verdict: An 81-year-old woman is stopped at a red light. Another car is also stopped at the light in the lane next to her. A truck comes up behind the two stopped vehicles going much too fast. The truck driver does not have time to stop and knows he will crash. Instead of rear-ending one of the vehicles, he tries to pass between the two stopped cars. The truck collides with the sides of both vehicles, goes through the intersection, and comes to a stop on the shoulder. The elderly woman hires a sideswipe accident lawyer and files this lawsuit against the truck driver. She injured her knee and suffers PTSD from the accident. She is awarded $6,500 in damages for pain and suffering.
- 2019 Connecticut, $6,300 Verdict: The driver of a car attempts to pass a bus on the left across a double yellow line. The bus is stopped at a bus stop when the driver of the car attempts to get around. However, she has poor control over her car and sideswipes the bus. A man inside the bus files a suit against her because the force of the crash caused his lower back to collide with a pole inside the bus, causing permanent injuries. Damage to his back and muscles resulted in significant medical bills and impaired his leisure activities and ability to sleep soundly.
- 2018 Pennsylvania, $70,000 Verdict: This is another case in which the defense attempts to argue that the plaintiff, not the defendant, was responsible for the crash. The plaintiff, a 55-year-old mother, is stopped in line at a toll booth about to go over the Walt Whitman Bridge. A driver hauling a boat attempts to merge and sideswipes her car. The defense lawyer alleges that the plaintiff’s vision is not good and that she did not accurately see what happened. The plaintiff shows that the damage to both of their vehicles would have been different if she had hit the defendant instead of the other way around. The plaintiff needs back surgery for her injuries but struggles to get it because she cares for an adult son with cerebral palsy. The jury finds with the plaintiff and awards her $70,000.
- 2018 Texas, $14,000 Verdict: A woman is driving southbound on a multilane road. The defendant, traveling next to the woman, swerves left into the woman’s car. The crash injures the woman’s neck and back, which require chiropractic treatment. The woman files a lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the defendant failed to maintain their lane, properly operate a vehicle, and keep a reasonable distance between vehicles. The defendant argues that the other driver was responsible for the crash. The jury finds that the defendant caused the accident and awards the plaintiff $14,000 in damages, including pain and suffering, past medical bills, and property damage.
- 2017 California, $1,130,000 Verdict: A truck driver merges into a car driving in the lane next to him, causing the car to roll over twice. The driver of the car is taken to the emergency room. Injuries to his spine are persistent. He requires physical therapy, a chiropractor, epidural injections, and, eventually, spinal surgery. During the trial, the defendant denies that the truck driver was entirely at fault. However, the plaintiff uses an animation of the collision, footage of similar accidents, and his medical history of making his case. The jury awards him compensation for past medical expenses and past and future pain and suffering.
- August 2017, Texas, $20,700 Verdict: Two cars are driving in the same direction on a road in Houston. Suddenly, a woman driving one of the cars attempts to change lanes and hits the other car. The two passengers in the car claim to have suffered spinal injuries requiring chiropractic treatment. The victim hires a sideswipe car accident lawyer, alleges negligence, and seeks compensation. A jury awards the plaintiff driver $19,000 and the plaintiff passenger $1,700.
- May 2016, Texas, $2,000 Verdict: The plaintiff is driving westbound on a highway in Harris County, Texas. The defendant has been awake for more than 24 hours and is traveling alongside him. Sleep-deprived and under the influence of alcohol, the defendant drifts into the plaintiff’s lane and sideswipes his car. The plaintiff’s knee is injured in the crash and will require future surgery. The plaintiff alleges the defendant was negligent in driving a vehicle while exhausted and drunk. At first, the defendant denies claims of negligence. Later she admits liability but contests the severity and causation of the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury finds in favor of the plaintiff but only awards him $2,000 in damages.
Getting a Lawyer to Fight for You
If you or someone you know was injured in a sideswipe car accident due to another’s negligent driving, our lawyers are here to help. Call us today at (800) 533-8082 or get a free online consultation.
For more information:
 “Safety and Operational Aspects of Exclusive Truck Facilities” by Dan Middleton and Dominique Lord, Final proceedings: International Truck and Bus Safety and Security Symposium, 2005.
 “Cervical Spine Distortion Injuries in Various Car Collision Directions and Injury Incidence of Different Car Types in Rear-End Collisions” by Wolfram Hell et at., Proceedings of the International Research Council on the Biomechanics of Impact Conference, 2003.
 “Frequency of acute cervical and lumbar pathology in common types of motor vehicle collisions: a retrospective record review” by Rami Hashish and Hasan Badday, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2017.
 “Work zones versus nonwork zones: Risk factors leading to rear-end and sideswipe collisions” by Claire Silverstein at el., Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, 2016.
 “Relationships Between Accident Severity and Weather and Roadway Adherence Factors in Crashes Occurred in Different Types of Collisions” by Alin Drosu et al., The 30th SIAR International Congress of Automotive and Transport Engineering, 2019.