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Who Is At Fault For A Sideswipe Accident? A Guide To Pursuing Damages

Due to its sudden and unpredictable nature, a sideswipe collision can result in serious injuries for all parties involved.

We’ve compiled an extensive guide on all you need to know about sideswipe accidents, from the parties at fault to the most common causes, injuries and more.

Plus, we’ll share how our personal injury team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein can help you in the aftermath of a car accident, from filing a claim to handling communication with insurance companies and beyond.

Need legal advice after a sideswipe accident?

Contact our personal injury lawyers!

Bradford H. Bernstein

This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.

View Brad's Bio

What Is A Sideswipe Collision?

A sideswipe collision, also known as a side impact accident, is a collision in which the sides of two vehicles make contact. This can occur whether the vehicles are moving in the same direction or the opposite direction, or if one vehicle is moving and the other is stopped.

Sideswipe collisions are often referred to as blind spot accidents, because when traveling in the same direction, one vehicle may end up in the blind spot of the other driver, which can result in a car accident.

Common Causes Of Sideswipe Accidents

The most common causes of a sideswipe accident include:

  • Attempt to avoid a head-on collision or hitting an object on the road
  • Fatigued driving, when an exhausted driver falls asleep and swerves into the other lane
  • Distracted driving, when a driver is using a device, texting, checking the navigation system or eating, for example
  • Failure to yield, when a driver merges onto another road while another vehicle is approaching
  • Failure to check for other vehicles when changing lanes
  • Failure to signal when changing lanes
  • Failure to secure enough space when passing a parked car in a parking lot
  • Hydroplaning, also known as aquaplaning, when a driver loses control over the vehicle on a wet or icy road
  • Intoxicated driving, when a driver’s judgement is impaired and they fail to stay in their lane
  • Reckless driving, racing or road rage

Most Common Injuries From A Sideswipe Collision

Injuries from a sideswipe collision can vary greatly, depending on the speed of the vehicles, the

The most common injuries caused by a sideswipe collision include:

The injuries in a sideswipe accident depend on various factors, such as:

  • The size of the two vehicles
  • The speed of the vehicles
  • The power of impact
  • The driver’s reaction after the impact

Unlike the front and the back of the vehicle which are equipped with safety features to soften the results of impact, the sides of vehicle typically do not offer the same protection.

After a vehicle is sideswiped, the driver may lose control and hit another vehicle or object, or slam on the brakes and end up being rear-ended. This can result in even greater damage and additional injuries, on top of those caused by the initial sideswipe collision.

A doctor examining X-rays of a patient
A sideswipe collision can result in various injuries, from fractures and a concussion to a spinal injury or organ damage

Common Damages You Can Seek After A Sideswipe Collision

After a sideswipe collision, you may be entitled to compensation for damages and the injuries you sustained.

In a no-fault state, like New York, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance will cover up to $50,000 for immediate medical expenses, lost wages or other costs related to your injuries.

If your expenses exceed this amount or you want to seek compensation for property damage, you may have the right to pursue economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

The economic damages you can seek after a sideswipe accident include:

  • Medical expenses for surgery costs, hospitalization, medication, doctors’ visits, rehabilitation or medical equipment
  • Household expenses for hiring help, because your injuries prevent you from doing it on your own
  • Lost income because your injuries do not allow you to work
  • Future lost wages
  • Property damage

Non-Economic Damages

The non-economic damages you can seek after a sideswipe accident include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Psychological trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
sideswipe accident damages
After a sideswipe accident, you can seek economic and non-economic damages

Who Is At Fault For A Sideswipe Accident?

The parties who may be held responsible for a sideswipe accident include:

  • The driver who caused the sideswipe collision — typically, this is the driver who veered into another driver’s lane or failed to check for a vehicle in their blind spot
  • Employers of drivers who contributed to the accident while driving a company car
  • Vehicle manufactures, if the sideswipe accident was caused by a defective or malfunctioning vehicle component
  • Government agencies and contractors in charge of road maintenance

To prove liability, you must prove that:

  • The party at fault breached their duty of care. This breach may include failure to operate a vehicle safely due to distraction, use of alcohol or drugs, failure to maintain the road to secure safe road conditions, or the production of a defective vehicle or vehicle component.
  • The breach of duty resulted in an accident
  • The accident caused harm to a person

Since many sideswipe accidents occur on two-lane roads or highways where vehicles move at high speeds, it may be challenging to determine fault — especially if the drivers involved present different versions of the incident.

In addition, the fault of third parties may be overlooked. This is why it is essential to work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney after your car accident.

An experienced attorney will collect the evidence needed to determine liability and ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.

If you are partially responsible for the accident, you can still pursue compensation. However, the amount you receive will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.

Looking to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit?

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11 Steps To Take After A Sideswipe Accident

Immediately after a sideswipe accident:

  1. Seek medical help if anyone is injured
  2. Contact the police and wait for them to arrive on the scene, if you are uninjured and able to wait. Later on, be sure to obtain a copy of the police accident report and check for accuracy, in case there are errors that need to be amended.
  3. Write down the other driver’s information, including name, insurance details, license plate number and contact number
  4. Take photos or videos of the accident scene, including damage to the vehicles, debris or yaw marks — these might help accident reconstruction experts determine who was responsible for the collision
  5. Check for cameras in the area and if there are any, let police officers and your lawyer know
  6. Take notes of the details related to the accident, such as time of day, weather and road conditions, or traffic
  7. Collect witnesses’ contact information
  8. Do not admit fault
  9. Do not share information about the accident on social media
  10. Call an experienced personal injury lawyer to review the details of your case and represent you

How Spar & Bernstein Can Help You Seek Maximum Compensation After A Sideswipe Accident

After a sideswipe accident, an insurance company will likely offer you a settlement that is considerably lower than the amount you could receive or the amount you might need for your long-term recovery.

By partnering with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, you can significantly increase the amount of money you will be awarded in compensation, to cover your injuries and damages from the accident, for both short-term and long-term expenses.

With 50+ years of experience in personal injury, our lawyers at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein have handled thousands of motor vehicle accident cases, including drunk driver accidents, hit and run accidents, bus accidents, truck accidents, Uber accidents and more.

If you were involved in a sideswipe collision, our experienced and compassionate team will:

  • Review the details of your accident
  • Get a copy of the accident police report
  • Collect evidence
  • Talk to witnesses
  • Talk to accident reconstruction experts
  • Define liability
  • Talk to medical experts to get an evaluation of your injuries
  • Represent you to negotiate a maximum settlement
  • Represent you in court, if needed

We believe that everyone deserves fair representation, regardless of their financial status. That’s why we offer a free consultation.

Contact our team to set up a meeting and introduce us to your case. We’ll review the details of your car accident and help you determine the best path forward toward a maximum settlement for your injuries and damages.

Whether you were partly at fault for the accident or another party is fully liable, your case is in good hands with our knowledgeable team at Spar & Bernstein.

Looking for a personal injury lawyer?

Contact our legal team at Spar & Bernstein!


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