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Sideswipe Car Accidents

Sideswipe Car Accidents

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 by carelessly drifting into another lane.

Though the impact of these collisions can be gentle in comparison to other types of 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 major 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 that is 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 the side of his vehicle collides with the side of a vehicle that he did not notice 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 are not intending to merge, but rather drift into another lane unintentionally. 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 in 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.[1] 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 Auto Accidents

Sideswipe accidents are unpredictable. The injuries and property damage resulting from sideswipe accidents depends on the scenario. In general, sideswipe accidents are less severe because there is less of a sudden, forceful change in velocity than in other types of accidents.[2]

For example, if two vehicles brush each other on the side but both drivers are able to stay in control of their cars, there may only be minor property damage. However, if a driver loses control of their vehicle, the consequences may be more severe. 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.

Commonly injured areas are the neck, chest, abdomen, elbow, and pelvis. Severe accidents may injure the spine or rupture the thoracic aorta, a large artery that runs through the chest.[3]

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 upon 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

In 2017, 12.3% of collisions were sideswipe collisions. In that year, sideswipes accounted for 2.8% of fatal collisions, 6.4% of collisions which caused injuries but no fatalities, and 14.9% of collisions which only caused property damage.[4]

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 together account for 54% of all crashes.

Unlike other types of collisions, sideswipe and rear-end collisions are more likely to occur on clear days and on straight roads.[5] Icy roads are positively correlated with fatality risk in sideswipe accidents.[6]

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 one that caused the accident.

If you called police to the scene, their report may help to verify what happened. However, sometimes witness reports and photos taken of the vehicles and the scene of the accident are more useful in your case. Read more about winning your claim here.

You may be wondering who pays for the sums that are won in a settlement or lawsuit. Damages are paid by the defendant's auto insurance company, and rarely by the defendant themselves. We also provide information on dealing with many different insurance companies.

Verdicts and Settlements Car Accidents

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. Notice that 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.

  • October 2019, Texas, $101,000 Verdict: A man is leaning on his car which is 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 serious injuries. He files a lawsuit against the driver of the bus and the city's transit authority. When the trial begins, only the transit authority is listed as a defendant, however. There is some dispute as to whether the plaintiff himself 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.
  • June 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.
  • May 2019, Connecticut, $20,000 Verdict: A woman is driving in the right lane and is sideswiped by another driver who is 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 as well as pain and suffering damages.
  • February 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 is going to crash. Instead of rear-ending one of the vehicles, he decides to try to pass in 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 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.
  • February 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 big medical bills and impairment of his leisure activities and ability to sleep soundly.
  • November 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 alleges that the plaintiff's vision is not good and that she did not accurately see what happened. The plaintiff shows that if she had hit the defendant, instead of the other way around, the damage to both of their vehicles would have been different. The plaintiff needs back surgery for her injuries but is struggling to get it because she cares for an adult son with cerebral palsy. The jury finds with the plaintiff and awards her $70,000.
  • June 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, conversely, 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 that include pain and suffering, past medical bills, and property damage.
  • September 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 defense 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 to make 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. They allege negligence and seek 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, who has been awake for more than 24 hours, 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 that 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:

[1] "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.

[2] "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.

[3] "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.

[4] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[5] "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.

[6] "Relationships Between Accident Severity and Weather and Roadway Adherence Factors in Crashes Occurred in Different Type of Collisions" by Alin Drosu et al., The 30th SIAR International Congress of Automotive and Transport Engineering, 2019.

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Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
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Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
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The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa