Side impact collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents in the United States. Drivers who blow through intersections risk colliding with, or broadsiding, cars moving parallel. Similarly, drivers can "sideswipe" cars in adjacent lanes while merging.
Any impact on the side of a vehicle is dangerous for the passengers who are seated behind a thin wall just a few inches away from the sight of the impact.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, side-impact and rear-end collisions were by far the most common type of non-fatal car accidents in 2017. This means that side-impact collisions are responsible for a significant portion of the millions of dollars in property damage and medical bills lost due to car accidents every year.
In terms of fatalities, broadside collisions, when the front of one car rams into the side of another, accounted for 18.6% of the nation's fatal car crashes. "Sideswipes" accounted for an additional 2.6% for a combined total of 21.2%. That's higher than any other type of accident, including head-on collisions.
It's common knowledge that head-on collisions are deadly. A head-on collision of two cars traveling at 45 miles an hour is the equivalent of one car hitting a brick wall at 90 miles an hour. However, head-on collisions happen far less frequently than side-impact collisions. Intersections, where many side-impact collisions happen, are notoriously accident-prone.
Side impact can result in serious injury due to the way that cars are designed. In the front and back of a car, bumpers, engine, and trunk space create a buffer between passengers and a crash. The sides of a car are much more vulnerable. They are thin, partially made of glass, and designed to crumple in order to absorb the impact of a collision.
This becomes a disadvantage with side-impact because the walls of the car are punched inward, injuring the people inside. Side airbags were designed in order to cushion car passengers against these blows. Seatbelts, however, are not much help in this situation. The effectiveness of safety features, as is the case with any car accident, depends on the severity of the crash.Injuries from Side Impact Accidents
The location and severity of injuries sustained during a side impact accident depends somewhat on where a person is sitting relative to the point of impact. Passengers sitting on the side where the vehicle is struck are more likely to have serious injuries compared with passengers seated on the opposite side.
Passengers seated on the near side of the impact are injured by the other vehicle crushing the car door into them and by the sudden change in direction and velocity. The entire body can be injured by side impact, but the most commonly injured areas are the chest, abdomen, head, neck, and pelvis. The most severe side impact injuries involve trauma to the brain, heart, and thoracic aorta. The aorta is the largest artery in the body, and the thoracic aorta is the section of the aorta which runs through the chest.
Passengers seated on the far side of the impact are likewise injured by the sudden change in direction and velocity as well as by projectiles. Though the side of the car doesn't come into the cabin and hit them, their bodies can still be thrown into the side and other parts of the car. Injuries like head trauma, contusions, whiplash, and broken bones are just as possible for these passengers.
Injuries can be worse for vulnerable passengers such as seniors and children. The safest place for a child to sit is in the middle seat, where they are protected from colliding with either side of the car.Negligent Driving Can Cause Side-Impact Accidents
Sometimes, a broadside or sideswipe accident is the result of negligent driving. In certain cases, it is possible to prove that a driver could have prevented the damage from being done if he or she was being reasonably careful.
Many successful claims include some variation on the at-fault driver not stopping when other drivers had the right of way. For example, if a driver doesn't stop at a stop sign and broadsides a car that was already moving through the intersection, they negligently failed to observe and follow posted traffic rules.
If the at-fault driver's insurance fails to cover the cost of your property damage, medical bills, and lost time at work or fails to compensate you for your pain and suffering, you can file a lawsuit with the help of our lawyers.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, please contact us for a free consultation at 1.800.553.8082 or online, here.
Where Is the Risk of Serious Injury the Greatest in Side Impact Crashes?
There are three types of side-impact collisions where our lawyers see the most serious injuries:
- Running or trying to run a red light or stop sign
- Taking a left turn
- Pulling out into oncoming traffic
We have had some very serious injury cases from people pulling out of parking spaces into traffic. But these are the exceptions. Normally, these are relatively minor injuries.
Side impact crashes are the rare motor vehicle accident with the risk is graver if you in the back seat.Side Impact Collision Settlements and Verdicts
Below are some recent settlements and verdicts in sideswipe injury cases. These are helpful in helping you understand the settlement value of car accident cases. This helps you better understand the value of your case. Still, if you are trying to drill down on the value of your claim, you are probably better off looking at the type of injury than the type of accident.
- September 2019, Maryland, $17,900 Verdict: A woman and her son are driving down the road in their minivan. Another driver attempts to pull out of a gas station and does not yield to oncoming traffic. In doing so, she hits the plaintiff's minivan, resulting in injuries to both mother and son. The plaintiff seeks compensation for her and her son's injuries, their medical expenses, and her lost wages. The defendant argues that the plaintiff, conversely, struck her vehicle and that the injuries sustained were less severe than the plaintiff claims. However, the defendant later admits responsibility. At trial, the plaintiff is awarded $7,400 for her past medical expenses, $4,000 for noneconomic damages, and $6,500 on behalf of her son.
- April 2017, Maryland, $855,513 Verdict: The plaintiff and his wife are traveling southbound on Monroe Street at its intersection with Lexington Street. Instead of stopping at the stop sign before pulling out onto Monroe street, an MTA mobility bus pulls into the intersection and crashes into the plaintiff's vehicle. Multiple people, including the plaintiff, are rushed to the hospital. His femur, wrist, and scapula are fractured, requiring surgery. Long after the incident, the plaintiff continues to have difficulty walking, standing, sitting, and using stairs. He relies on opiates to relieve his enduring pain. The defendants, the bus driver and bus company, admit liability for the accident. The plaintiff's award includes compensation for pain and suffering and past medical.
- February 2017, Maryland, $25,000 Verdict: A man is driving on Route 3 in Anne Arundel County and is about to pass the intersection with Route 424. While in the intersection, he is broadsided by another car. The man has several injuries from the crash to his ankle, neck, arms, knee, and shoulder. He claims to have suffered significant emotional distress in addition to missing over a month from work while he went to physical therapy. A jury rules that his injuries were a result of the defendant's negligent driving. For his pain and suffering, he is awarded $25,000.
- January 2013, Maryland, $195,000 Settlement: A self-employed carpenter is driving southbound on South Notch Road, approaching Thompson Corner Road in St. Mary's County. While attempting to cross the intersection, he is broadsided by a second driver. Following the accident, he is treated for aggravation of pre-existing shoulder and knee injuries. After receiving two surgeries, one to assess a partial rotator cuff tear and a second to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee, he is assigned a 15% right shoulder impairment and a 20% left knee impairment. His treating surgeon says that in the future, a total knee replacement will be necessary. The man files a motor vehicle negligence suit against the driver, claiming that while he, the plaintiff, entered the intersection on a green light, the defendant entered the intersection on a blinking red light. The defendant disputes the plaintiff's allegations and argues that the plaintiff failed to make any attempt to avoid the collision, making him partially negligent. The defendant's counsel also argues that the plaintiff suffered from pre-existing arthritis and should recover without the need for surgery. The parties agree to settle before trial in the amount of $195,000.
- September 2013, Maryland: $36,286 Verdict: A 65-year-old retiree is driving in a shopping center parking lot in Baltimore County. Like most shopping center parking lots, it contains travel lanes and stop signs. As he is driving, another driver fails to stop at a stop sign and broadsides the passenger side of his vehicle. Ten days after the accident the man visits his chiropractor with neck, lower back, and right shoulder pain. He is diagnosed with a re-tear in his right rotator cuff. The tear had received surgical repair prior to the accident. The man then undergoes a second surgery to undo the damage done to his once repaired rotator cuff. The man sues the driver of the vehicle that broadsided him, claiming that the defendant was negligent in failing to obey the posted stop sign. While the defendant does admit liability, the defense counsel argues that the impact was not severe enough to cause the plaintiff's rotator cuff to re-tear. The plaintiff's orthopedic surgeon, who performed the second surgery, testifies that the impact did, in fact, cause the re-tear and that the surgery was 100% necessary. The suit continues to trial where a Towson jury finds in favor of the plaintiff and awards him $36,286.
Our lawyers fight to get our clients the money they deserve. This may be by a great settlement or, if necessary, at trial. Our mission is maximizing the value of your case. Call us to discuss your case at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.