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Sideswipe Accident
Causes, Common Injuries & Determining Fault

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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.

A sideswipe accident happens between two cars going in the same direction. The right side of one vehicle hits the left side of the other. 

If you've been involved in a sideswipe collision, you're probably wondering how to determine who's at fault and what steps to take.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers have dealt with numerous sideswipe accident cases over two decades. Today, we’ll explain what you should do after a sideswipe collision.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • A sideswipe accident occurs when a car switches lanes and hits a vehicle going in the same or opposite direction.
  • Usually, the person at fault is the one who went into the other vehicle’s lane, but occasionally, both drivers can share fault.
  • You need a personal injury lawyer to help you get damages for medical bills and other losses you suffered.

7 Most Common Causes of Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe accidents are among the most common vehicle collisions — more than 840,000 sideswipe collisions happen in the US, usually caused by blind spots [1].

“A sideswipe collision occurs when the sides of two vehicles make an impact. This can happen as the vehicles are traveling in the same direction or when they are traveling in opposite directions.” American Automobile Association 

Checking the scratch from the car Other common causes of sideswiped car accidents include:

  • Driver inattentiveness — This can include anything that pulls the driver’s attention from the road, such as texting and driving, taking a call, changing the radio station, grooming, and more.
  • Road-rage drivers — These drivers can cause dangerous vehicle damage and injuries to the other driver. They let anger influence their driving, and they tend to speed, pass the other vehicle illegally, and similar.
  • Driving under the influence — Sideswipe accidents occur when a driver drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Their response time is slow, or they struggle to drive.
  • Drowsy driversPeople coming from a long shift, night workers, and truck drivers usually don't get enough sleep and doze off while driving. Their vehicle can leave its lane and sideswipe other drivers.
  • Failure to yield right of way — This usually happens where roads merge. Drivers merge without caution and don’t check their blind areas.
  • Hazardous weather conditions — Thick fog, hail, wet or icy roads can make the driver lose control and cause a head-on collision or a sideswipe accident.

Who is at Fault for a Sideswipe Accident?

Woman taking a picture of the accident The driver who doesn’t stay in a single lane, but decides to change lanes without ensuring it’s safe to do so, is responsible for a sideswipe accident.

The driver has to check the blind spots, assess the traffic, and give the turn signal. If the driver fails to do this, there’s a higher chance of traffic accidents.

The general rule is that the car that leaves the original lane is at fault for the car accident. Also, if a parked car is sideswiped by another car, the moving vehicle is at fault for the collision. 

However, there can be more than one driver at fault for a sideswipe car accident in some cases. This means the drivers share the percentage of fault if two vehicles were changing lanes at the same time. The driver who’s partially at fault can get damages, but they’ll be reduced by the percentage of negligence.

For example, if the driver changing lanes is 70% at fault, and it’s deemed the other person was driving distracted, they can be considered 30% at fault. 

This also depends on the state you’re in. Your insurance company will pay for damages and injuries in a no-fault state. If you live in an at-fault state, the scenario above applies — your damages will be lowered according to the percentage of the blame.

Related Article: What Happens If You Are At Fault In A Car Accident?

What to Do After a Sideswipe Car Accident?

Man calling for help on phone while the car stays behind him

If you’ve been in an accident, follow these steps:

  • Call 911 — You should call the police to have a record of the accident. Police will create a report including all the relevant information you can use to get damages, such as who’s at fault, eyewitness statements, driver’s license number, and more.
  • Get medical help — You should seek medical attention even if you aren't injured. You may experience injuries later on, so it’s good to get completely checked.
  • Take photos of the vehicles and the accident scene — Photos can help you prove who’s at fault for the accident, who changed into whose lane or did an unsafe lane change.
  • Get witness information — Eyewitnesses can be your best bet in proving you didn’t cause the accident, so make sure to get their information for an interview.
  • Get a car accident lawyer — A lawyer can get a statement from the other driver and witnesses and help you gather all the evidence. This is especially helpful if you suffer serious injuries. You can focus on recuperating while the lawyer builds the case.

Related Article: How to Scare an Insurance Adjuster?

Sideswipe Accident Injuries

Man with both hands on his head after accident A sideswipe accident is dangerous because it’s unexpected and unpredictable.

The vehicle’s sides are more exposed compared to the front and back — there’s no truck or airbags to protect the driver. The bigger the size difference between other vehicles involved, the higher the severity of injuries.

Many sideswipe accidents result in these injuries:

  1. Whiplash
  2. Concussion
  3. Traumatic brain injury
  4. Spinal cord injury
  5. Broken bones
  6. Internal injuries
  7. Amputated and crushed limbs
  8. Burns 
  9. Lacerations

Related Articles:


Does insurance cover sideswipe?

Yes, the insurance should cover sideswipe crashes. If you aren’t sure if your insurance covers it, it’s best to contact your insurance company.

Get an Experienced Lawyer after a Sideswipe Crash

A sideswipe accident can happen due to reckless driving and when the driver wants to change lanes without checking their blind spots. This can result in serious injuries and property damage.

To prove fault in a sideswipe crash and get the damages after the accident occurred, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Law firm Schmidt & Clark, LLP values every attorney-client relationship. We can help you get the damages due to you.

Contact us today for a free consultation.