Sideswipe collisions are more common than many of us think. Victims of these accidents can suffer severe injuries because of how their car is struck. When someone strays out of their lane or fails to notice another car in an intersection, these accidents can cause severe bodily injury and property damage. Reaching out to a car accident lawyer should be your next move.
Understanding How Sideswipe Collisions Occur
Sideswipe collisions occur when one vehicle strikes the other from the side. In many cases, this is because the driver of one car has failed to remain in their lane.
Some of the most common sideswipe collision scenarios include:
- A vehicle drifts out of a lane and strikes the car traveling in the other lane. These cars would be traveling side by side, going in the same direction.
- A car drifts over the center lane while traveling towards oncoming traffic and strikes the car traveling in the opposite direction.
- Driver fails to judge the proper space and time needed to safely switch lanes and strikes a vehicle in the lane they intend to go into.
- Driver merges onto a busy highway without yielding the right of way.
- Driver swerves to avoid an animal or something else in the roadway and strikes the vehicle in the lane next to them.
- Driver is not paying attention and strikes a car that is parked.
- Driver changing lanes fails to check their blind spot and strikes another vehicle.
These are just a few of the common ways sideswipe collisions occur. There are other scenarios, such as a driver making a legal turn being struck on the side of their car by a vehicle that failed to stop for a stop sign or red light.
Causes of Sideswipe Collisions
Most sideswipe accidents are avoidable if only drivers remained focused on the traffic around them. However, we all have seen drivers who fail to take proper precautions on the roadways.
Sideswipe collisions may be caused by:
- Distracted driving – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates as many as nine people lose their lives daily due to distracted driving. This includes cell phone usage, eating while driving, and using GPS systems. When someone takes their eyes off the road, the potential for a sideswipe collision increases.
- Reckless driving – Drivers can be traveling too fast for road conditions, weaving in and out of lanes, or cutting off other drivers, resulting in sideswipe collisions.
- Driving while impaired – In one recent year, more than 400,000 accidents resulted from impaired driving. Drugs and alcohol slow down a driver’s response time and may make them more careless while operating their vehicle. Drivers taking legal prescription meds without understanding the negative effects on their reaction time cause some of these accidents.
- Drowsy driving – Unfortunately, not all drivers know they have not had enough sleep and can doze off while driving. This can cause their car to drift in a lane and result in a sideswipe collision.
These are not all the reasons a sideswipe collision occurs, but they are some of the most common. Drivers cannot determine if the driver in the next lane will make a sudden move. These sudden moves can cause severe or fatal injuries.
Potential Sideswipe Collision Injuries
Vehicle size, speed, and the side of the vehicle that is struck all play a role in who is injured and how severe the injuries are. If a vehicle is struck on the driver’s side, the driver suffers a more serious injury, but any passenger can also be injured. If the vehicle is struck on the passenger side, the passenger will likely suffer a more severe injury.
Injuries are typically categorized as penetrating injuries or as impact injuries. Everyone traveling in a vehicle has the potential to suffer a serious injury from broken glass, seatbelt injuries, or head injuries.
Some common sideswipe accident injuries include:
- Bruises and cuts – Sideswipe injuries often result in broken glass being sprayed into the car. Additionally, the impact can throw drivers and passengers sideways, resulting in them striking a hard surface. These cuts and bruises can be serious if left untreated following an accident.
- Internal injuries – Unfortunately, the impact of a car accident can cause victims to suffer internal injuries such as damage to the liver, kidneys, or spleen. These injuries can be excruciating, but they could also result in severe internal bleeding, which can be fatal.
- Back and spinal injuries – Spinal cord injuries from being thrown around during a sideswipe collision can result in paralysis. In these cases, the paralysis may be either partial or complete. Either will have a permanent impact on the victim’s life and their family.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Any car accident victim can suffer TBI if their head is struck by or against an object. The nature of TBIs varies but may include long-term issues, including communication, emotional challenges, and physical changes. Some victims may never be able to return to their usual ways of life following an accident where they suffered TBI.
- Whiplash – The thrust of a car accident can cause a whiplash injury which can be very painful and could take weeks to heal. Some victims will be required to wear a neck brace for weeks following this type of injury.
- Broken or crushed bones – Depending on the force of an injury, victims may suffer multiple broken or crushed bones, which can be painful and could lead to other medical issues, including infections and long-term pain or other issues.
Since every accident is different and sideswipe collisions can occur at any speed, there are other injuries victims may face. In some instances, a family may lose a loved one in a sideswipe collision.
Insurance Issues and Sideswipe Collisions
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. This means that anyone involved in an accident must file their initial claim with their own insurance company. However, in some cases, the amounts paid will not cover the expenses a sideswipe collision victim incurs as a result of their injuries.
There are limited circumstances where a victim may file a claim against the at-fault driver. To file a claim against the at-fault driver, the victim must be able to show they have suffered a permanent injury, significant scarring or disfigurement which is not temporary, or a disability that is expected to last 90 days or more. These requirements are explained more thoroughly in The 2021 Florida Statutes, section 316.027.
This also means you need clear evidence of who caused the accident. Insurance companies will take many steps to reduce or deny a claim filed under the at-fault drivers’ policy.
- Blame the accident victim
- Claim a third party was responsible
- Claim the injuries did not meet the serious injury threshold
These are just a few of the tactics an insurer will use. Remember that even when someone files a claim with their own insurance company, there is no guarantee that the claim will be paid in full or that their claim will not be subject to denial. Insurers are not in business to pay claims because doing so impacts their overall earnings, which means less profit.
They are in the business of collecting premiums and paying as little out in claims as possible. This is one of the primary reasons why anyone involved in a sideswipe collision should be in contact with an auto accident lawyer as soon after an accident as possible. Victims need to protect their rights or have someone advocating for their rights on their behalf.
Damages Victims May Seek Following Sideswipe Collision
While every accident victim’s injury and damage may be different, there are specific categories of compensation that every victim may be entitled to seek following a sideswipe collision. There are monetary damages as well as non-economic losses which may be claimed.
Some of the compensation available in a settlement demand include:
- Medical expenses – After a sideswipe collision, there could be several doctor visits and procedures necessary for victims to get back to their prior health. Some victims can never return to their previous conditions, which could mean a lifetime of medical bills. Any out-of-pocket medical expenses which pertain to the victim’s injuries, both current and future, can be included in a claim.
- Lost income – While there may be some short-term coverage for lost wages, victims who are suffering a severe injury could be out of work for several weeks, months, or even permanently. The income they lose in the immediate aftermath of an accident and future lost income can be included in settlement demands.
- Other expenses – In some cases, victims are unable to handle household chores they once took care of, including landscaping, childcare, and other tasks. If they need to hire outside help to address these needs, there may be a way to recover these losses.
Other losses could include loss of companionship, guidance, and pain and suffering. Only a skilled accident injury attorney can help victims determine what should be included in a claim against the at-fault driver.
Recovery Times and Filing Insurance Claims
While no-fault insurance allows a victim to file a claim for their immediate losses, in cases where it may be necessary to file a second claim as a third party can get complicated. There is a statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. The car accident statute of limitations in Florida is four years from the accident date. While this may seem like a long time, it is important to understand that several steps must occur before a claim can be filed.
These steps are:
- Establishing fault for the accident – Proof can come from police reports, witness statements, and traffic cams or other cameras in the area of the original accident.
- Filing initial insurance claim – A victim’s insurance company may have restrictions on how long they have to file an insurance claim. This will require a review of the insurance policy.
- Maximum recovery – Victims would want to wait until a medical clearance indicates their recovery will not progress any further regardless of what treatments are offered before filing a settlement demand.
Working with a lawyer who has experience handling sideswipe collisions is the best way to ensure that a victim does not forfeit their right to file a suit following an accident. Remember, the insurance company will not help a victim protect any of their rights and, in some cases, may stall settling a claim until they know there is no other legal recourse for the victim.
Hiring a Sideswipe Collision Attorney
Anyone who has experienced a sideswipe collision should seek legal advice. A victim can get an attorney who has experience handling accidents on our roadways free of upfront cost in nearly all cases. During a free consultation, the victim can explain the circumstances of their accident, talk about the extent of their injuries and find out what their legal options are going forward.
If a victim elects to hire an attorney to represent them through the claims and settlement process, it is unlikely they will need to pay anything upfront. Most auto accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.
This means that a victim need not worry about paying any legal fees out of pocket unless and until a settlement is agreed upon. At Perenich Law Injury Attorneys, our fees are not payable without a settlement.
Victims of car accidents need to be focused on their physical and mental health following an accident. Contacting a car accident lawyer who can handle the insurance claims, negotiations with insurance adjusters, and making sure someone is advocating on their behalf allows them time to regain their health and ensures their family has a chance of recovering financially following their injury.