Sideswipe accidents occur where the left side of one vehicle collides with the right side of another vehicle. Although sideswipe-avoiding technologies have decreased their prevalence, they’re still very common. For example, lane departure warning systems have decreased the rate of sideswipe injury crashes by 21 percent, and fatal sideswipe crashes by as much as 86 percent according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Even so, approximately 242,000 sideswipe crashes occur every year. If you have recently been involved in a sideswipe accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an Orange County sideswipe accident lawyer at the Crockett Law Group to learn about how we can help you maximize your settlement. Call (800) 900-9393 for a free consultation with our car accident lawyers in Orange County.
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What Is A Sideswipe Accident?
Sideswipe accidents, also known as lane change crashes, occur where the side of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are seven possible sideswipe accident scenarios, ranked in order of the frequency of their occurrence:
- Two vehicles on parallel paths: one driver intentionally changes lanes and collides with another vehicle.
- Two vehicles on parallel paths: one driver turns across the path of another vehicle at an intersection.
- Two vehicles on parallel paths: one driver drifts into another vehicle’s lane by accident.
- Two vehicles on parallel paths: one driver is turning at an intersection and another vehicle is passing.
- Two vehicles on parallel paths: one driver moves into another vehicle’s lane to pass them, or to pass some other vehicle.
- One driver leaves a parked position and tries to merge into traffic when he sideswipes or is sideswiped by another vehicle in the lane.
- One driver merges into the lane of another from an entrance to a limited-access highway and sideswipes or is sideswiped by another vehicle.
How Is Fault Proven In A Sideswipe Accident?
California Vehicle Section 21658 mandates that you maintain your lane at all times. Similarly, California Vehicle Code Section 22107 prohibits drivers from making an unsafe lane change. Although the letter of the law seems pretty black and white on its face, actually proving which vehicle violated these vehicle code sections is not.
In general, proving who’s at fault in sideswipe accidents tends to be harder than proving fault in other traffic accident types, like rear-end collisions. Both drivers typically point fingers at each other in sideswipe accidents. Clients often think the property damage photographs conclusively show they weren’t at fault and that the other driver turned into them. Unfortunately, a lot of times the damage could just as easily be explained by saying that my client turned into the other car. Without an independent witness or video surveillance to say otherwise, the other driver’s insurance company will likely only accept 50 percent fault at best, and possibly deny liability altogether.
Because liability in sideswipe accidents is not always clear-cut, it’s especially important to have an experienced lawyer on your side who can help prove your case. For example, sometimes it’s necessary to engage the services of an accident reconstruction expert who can use point of impact and other technical information to convince the insurance company who is at fault.
What Are Common Causes Of Sideswipe Accidents?
Generally speaking, sideswipe accidents occur because of poor judgment that causes a driver to lose control of his vehicle and strike a car in the adjacent lane. More specifically though, these are the most common causes of sideswipe accidents we see:
- Distracted driving: texting, talking on a cellphone, applying makeup, or using a navigation system for example.
- Inattentive driving: simply not paying attention, ‘zoning out’, or failing to check their blind spot.
- A driver trying to change lanes might not see the driver coming up beside them.
- A driver trying to make a turn might turn too wide or cut their turn too close.
- Drunk driving: drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are known to swerve and straddle lanes.
- An object in the road: a driver who is trying to avoid an object in the road might swerve into someone else’s lane and collide by accident.
- Aggressive Driving: Drivers that weave in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed can easily sideswipe a car by misjudging a lane change losing control of their car.
Can A Sideswipe Accident Cause Injuries?
A sideswipe accident is often seen by the insurance company as a minor type of accident when compared with other kinds of traffic collisions, like head-on collisions. But make no mistake about it, sideswipe accidents can cause significant injuries to the vehicle’s occupants.
These are some of the injuries we commonly see in sideswipe accidents in Orange County, CA:
- Brain injuries from striking your head against a door or window.
- Shoulder injuries, like a torn rotator cuff from striking it against the door.
- Knee injuries, like a torn meniscus from striking it against the door, dash, or steering column.
- Wrist injuries from gripping the steering wheel tightly to regain control.
- Neck injuries as a result of your head being tossed from side-to-side.
- Burn injuries as a result of the side airbag deploying upon impact.
How Can A Lawyer Help With Insurance Companies After A Sideswipe Accident?
The other driver’s insurance company will probably argue there isn’t any “mechanism for injury” in a sideswipe accident. What they mean by that is that the property damage was too minimal to have caused injury to the occupants. If an insurance adjuster says that to you, they’re lying. Injury causation in sideswipe accidents is more nuanced than that.
Insurance adjusters make this argument because in sideswipe accidents there usually isn’t any frame damage to the vehicle. They’ve been trained to equate or conflate, frame damage with a mechanism for injury. In other words, if there is frame damage to a vehicle, the insurance adjuster knows they can’t possibly argue the accident was too minor to cause injury.
If the impact was hard enough to bend the frame of a car, of course, it was hard enough to injure the people sitting inside of it. The problem is that insurance adjusters think the inverse is true (and it’s not): if the impact wasn’t hard enough to bend the frame of the car, then it wasn’t hard enough to injure the people sitting inside of it.
The truth is that mechanism for injury in sideswipe accidents depends on a lot of different factors that have nothing to do with whether there was frame damage to the car. According to a study by Columbia University, occupant injury in sideswipe accidents depends on the following factors:
Whether it was an angle crash, sideswipe in the opposition direction, or sideswipe in the same direction. Angle crashes and sideswipes in the opposite direction are associated with higher injury rates than sideswipes in the same direction.
Side of the Vehicle the Accident Occurred
Whether you were seated on the same side as the crash or the opposite side as the crash. Occupants seated on the same side as the crash are more likely to have severe/fatal injury compared to occupants seated on the opposite side or in the middle seat.
Size Difference in Vehicles
Occupants of larger vehicles are less likely to be injured in a side-crash.
Seatbelt use is highly protective in all car accidents, including sideswipe accidents.
Excessive speed increases the odds of severe or fatal injury, especially for rear-seated occupants.
Despite what the insurance adjuster may claim, victims of sideswipe accidents have a right to demand compensation for their economic and non-economic damages just like any other traffic accident victim.
- Economic damages refer to reimbursement for actual monies spent or lost due to the accident, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and transportation costs.
- Noneconomic damages refer to compensation for the pain, suffering, and mental anguish suffered by the occupant. This type of compensation is much more subjective than economic damages. Therefore, the value of a pain and suffering claim will vary greatly from person to person.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Orange County Sideswipe Accident Lawyer
Sideswipe accidents might seem relatively minor on their face, but science and victims tell us otherwise. It’s not uncommon for a driver to try to regain control of their vehicle by over-correcting and then collide with a light post, guardrail, or tree for example. Worse yet, a driver might overcorrect to the point of causing a rollover. No matter the severity though, it’s important that you get checked out by a medical doctor immediately following a sideswipe accident. These types of cases usually require an experienced attorney to prove fault and explain the mechanism for injury.
As sideswipe accident injury lawyers, we regularly represent the interests of victims who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. The Crockett Law Group is committed to handling your injury claim from start to finish and will fight to make sure that you receive the money you deserve. If you’ve been injured as a result of a sideswipe accident, contact the Crockett Law Group to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys in Orange County at (800) 900-9393.