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Who is Responsible for a Sideswipe Accident?

October 12, 2020

Sideswipe car accidents are usually minor, but they can also be serious and expensive. A sideswipe accident occurs when a vehicle brushes up against another vehicle, either while both cars are in motion or while one is parked. When the other car is parked, a sideswipe accident can cause significant damage. However, if the other car is moving, a sideswipe collision can spiral into a much more serious crash.

What Commonly Causes Sideswipe Car Accidents?

A sideswipe accident can happen when vehicles are traveling in the same direction or in opposite directions. There are a number of reasons why a driver would sideswipe another vehicle, including the following:

Blind Spots: A driver might misjudge the width of the lane or not see a car coming up behind them in their blind spot. This can easily happen when changing lanes or navigating difficult merges, particularly if two drivers are trying to move into the same space. Drivers must use extra caution, signaling properly and doing complete visual checks.

Poor Weather: Inclement weather can also be a factor in sideswipe accidents, as ice or flooding can cause cars to drift and collide.

Distractions: If a driver is distracted by smart phones, navigation systems, or they are eating and drinking, they are much more likely to get into sideswipe accidents.

Drunk Driving: Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol have more difficulty staying in their lanes. Anything that takes the driver’s focus off the road puts them at risk for causing a sideswipe accident.

Aggressive Driving: Aggressive driving behaviors also heightens the risk for sideswipe accidents. Speeding drivers can easily lose control and slam into other cars, especially if there is a change in the traffic pattern. Drivers who weave in and out of lanes may not leave enough space to change lanes safely. Road rage can make drivers behave erratically and dangerously, including trying to pass when there is not enough room or intentionally getting too close to other drivers to intimidate them.

What Makes a Car Accident More Severe?

The severity of a sideswipe accident can vary due to a number of factors, including the speed at which the vehicles were traveling, the size of the vehicles involved, and the force of the impact of the collision. A sideswipe on a high-speed interstate or one involving a tractor trailer is going to be much more severe than other sideswipe accidents.

Sideswipes often cause significant scraping and dents in the driver and passenger side doors. Side view mirrors and trim on the side of the vehicle may be damaged or knocked off completely. These damages may be cosmetic, or they may impact the frame of the vehicle and need extensive repair.

What is a Secondary Accident?

One of the biggest risks with a sideswipe accident is not the initial impact, but what happens afterward. A driver who is sideswiped might be forced off the road, where they might hit guardrails or run into trees or other obstacles. They may also hit other vehicles, bicyclists, or pedestrians.

The driver who initially caused the accident might try to overcorrect and swerve into another lane or off the road. This quick change in direction can cause a vehicle to slide or roll over. A sideswipe accident may start off as a minor collision and escalate into a major head-on collision, causing significantly more damage.

What Injuries Occur in Sideswipe Collisions?

A sideswipe accident on its own is unlikely to cause serious injuries, besides minor bumps and bruises. If the accident causes windows to break, victims may also have cuts. A secondary accident caused by a sideswipe, however, can have much more devastating injuries. Sideswipe victims often experience musculoskeletal injuries, including muscle sprains or tears and broken bones. In some cases, an arm or a leg may be crushed or pinned, which may result in amputation.

The impact of a sideswipe accident can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI is caused when a victim’s head makes contact with a window, dashboard, or airbag, or it can be caused by the body being jostled at high speeds. TBIs often have lasting effects that can include cognitive difficulties, changes in mood or behavior, loss of motor skills, loss of senses, or difficulty with memory.

Sideswipe accidents can also cause significant back, neck, or spinal cord injuries. These injuries can cause temporary or permanent paralysis, loss of mobility, and chronic pain. TBIs and spinal cord injuries can have lasting effects on a victim’s life that may prevent them from working and require lifelong treatment.

What Should I Do After a Sideswipe Accident?

A sideswipe accident, even if it is relatively minor, should be treated just like any other accident. Police should be called to the scene so that they can create an official report of the accident, documenting the events of the accident as they unfolded. The report can include road and weather conditions, and witness statements to help clarify how the accident occurred. If there are injuries, victims should seek medical treatment immediately; it might not be apparent at the scene how severe the injuries are.

The drivers involved in a sideswipe accident should exchange contact and insurance information. Drivers should also take photographs or videos of the damage to the vehicles and the accident scene. They should also get contact information for witnesses in case there is information missing from the police report.

How is Fault Determined in Virginia?

Proving liability in a sideswipe accident can be challenging. If the car was parked, the at-fault driver could irresponsibly flee the scene. Drivers should report the accident to their insurance company immediately and provide them with all of the details of the accident. If the at-fault driver can be identified, their liability insurance should cover any injuries and damages that occur as a result of the accident.

There are cases in which both drivers contributed to the accident. If drivers share fault, then the laws of the state will determine who is considered liable for damages. The circumstances of the accident will determine what percentage of responsibility each driver has, which affects whether they will be able to recover damages. Virginia is a no-fault state, meaning that drivers will be compensated from their own insurance regardless of who caused the accident. However, those injured in sideswipe accidents can still sue responsible drivers to recover compensation for serious injuries, damages, and pain and suffering.

Some sideswipe accidents may have other responsible parties in addition to the driver, depending on the circumstances of the accident. If the driver who caused the accident was a worker who was carrying out their job responsibilities, the company they work for may also be held liable for any injuries that occur. If a defect in the vehicle contributed to the accident, the vehicle’s manufacturer or distributer may be responsible. Similarly, if the accident was caused in part by issues with the road surface, the government agencies in charge of maintaining the road may share some responsibility.

Car accidents often cause serious injuries, so it is important for a victim to consult with a lawyer after an accident. A lawyer will be able to determine if their client is eligible to collect damages.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Advocate for Clients Injured in Serious Sideswipe Car Accidents

If you were injured in a sideswipe collision, our respected Virginia Beach car accident lawyers can help. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we have successfully recovered damages for various car accident victims. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to get you compensation. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.


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