A sideswipe is often seen as a minor or harmless accident – the cars may be damaged a bit, but there are no physical injuries involved. This is true of some sideswipes – but not all; some sideswipe accidents have devastating consequences and result in major injuries and fatalities. According to the National Highway Safety and Transportation Board, a large number of sideswipes are caused by trucks and large vehicles changing lanes; a passenger car that is sideswiped by a large truck can be destroyed in an instant.
A sideswipe accident occurs when two vehicles moving in the same direction collide, with the impact on the side of one or both vehicles. This type of accident often occurs when a driver is distracted, trying to change lanes or to make a turn. In many cases, a sideswipe leads to a more serious collision; when one or both drivers overreact or lose control of their vehicles.
Causes of Sideswipe Accidents
The accident itself is caused when one car veers out of its own lane and into the adjacent lane; the reason for the change of lanes can vary and include:
- Inattention by the driver; they simply don’t look before changing lanes
- Distracted driving; the driver is eating, texting, reading or interacting with passengers
- Drunk driving: the driver is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both
- Object on the road: the driver swerves to avoid an animal or object in the road
- Objects in a blind spot or that the driver can’t see; this often happens with large trucks
Injuries from Sideswipe Accidents
A passenger or driver could sustain injuries to the arms and legs, internal injuries, or damage to the head, neck or back. It is important to be checked out by a medical professional after a sideswipe accident; you could be more hurt than you realize. Injuries to the head, neck and back may not be immediately apparent, but could have long lasting impact on your ability to work and function.
What to do if you have been Sideswiped
Since the damage to the car may be minimal and restricted to cosmetic dents and dings, the insurance company may dispute or refuse to pay claims related to injuries. Scrapes, minor dents and the loss of a mirror or other feature may be the only signs that an accident has occurred; the insurer may not be willing to pay for the very real injuries that result from this seemingly “minor” accident.
- Document the scene: Take photos of the cars in place to help show the conditions and what happened. If possible, get contact details for anyone who stopped so that you are able to call witnesses if you have to.
- Seek out medical attention: Get treatment for any injuries, even those that seem minor, and let your doctor know that you’ve been involved in a collision. Your head, neck or back may need further attention to determine the true extent of your injuries. Visiting the doctor further documents your injuries and improves your case if you do need to file a lawsuit.
- Call the police: File a police report to make a record of the accident and to further record the details. Even if the damage seems minor or the other driver doesn’t want to, you need to file a police report to document the accident and file an insurance claim.
- Never accept a settlement: If the insurance company offers you an immediate settlement or wants to pay for the damages to your vehicle, do not accept until you speak to an attorney. If they rush through the process, they may not be accounting for your injuries and you could inadvertently sign away any rights you have to compensation. See an attorney before you accept any settlement offered by your own or the other party’s insurance company.
- Call an attorney: An attorney familiar with sideswipe accidents and the particular injuries they can produce will take your claim seriously and help you get results. The best way to protect your rights after a sideswipe accident is to seek the advice of an attorney; you’ll be able to get specific advice about your situation and a better idea of what can be done for you.
Contact us if you’ve been involved in a sideswipe accident; our auto accident attorneys are here to make sure you get the help you need during this difficult and stressful time.