How Is Fault Determined in Most Sideswipe Accident Scenarios?
Sideswipe collisions are one of the more commonly-occurring accidents on the road. But their frequency does not make them any less scary to those affected. Being sideswiped unexpectedly by a passing vehicle that seems to come from nowhere is a situation no driver wants to face. Fortunately, most sideswipe incidents leave vehicle damage but do not harm the people involved. In severe cases, however, a sideswipe collision can lead to more serious conditions causing injury to one or more drivers.
People who have been involved in a car accident or truck accident know that the resulting financial burden can be tremendous. For answers about what legal actions can be taken to receive compensation for your losses, reach out to a Jackson, MS car accident lawyer with experience in sideswipe collision cases. Let’s take a look at the definition of a sideswipe accident, and what can be done to determine liability after one occurs.
What Is a Sideswipe Accident?
A sideswipe accident occurs when two vehicles collide lengthwise, along the side of each car. This type of accident most often happens when the two cars are traveling in the same direction, but a sideswipe collision can also arise between motor vehicles moving in opposite directions. Sideswipe collisions can additionally occur when a parked car is struck by a passing vehicle.
A familiar sideswipe scenario can be seen when a single car is traveling in a highway lane, and a second vehicle moves into the same lane and causes a collision while both vehicles are moving forward. There could be many causes of this dangerous driving behavior (we will look further into sideswipe collision causes below), but a failure to check blind spots before changing lanes is one of the most common.
Sideswipe accidents are almost always preventable. They are frequently the result of careless, reckless, distracted, or intoxicated driving. And the effects of a sideswipe can be more destructive than one might assume. The initial blow between vehicles involved in a sideswipe collision may seem minor compared to a head-on crash, but the force of impact can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Swerving, crashing into objects or other cars, and even rollovers can be precipitated by a sideswipe.
What Are the Common Causes of Sideswipe Accidents?
Whether it was an issue of distracted driving, drunk driving, or just plain carelessness, the following conditions and actions are the ones most likely to lead to a sideswipe accident:
- Changing lanes without checking blind spots
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Merging without caution
- Multiple vehicles merging in high-traffic areas
- Failure to yield when required
- Drifting across lanes
- Disregard of traffic laws
- Incorrectly estimating distance between vehicles
- Adverse weather conditions leading to skidding, slipping, or hydroplaning
- Speeding, abrupt lane changes, and cutting off other drivers
- Road rage or intentionally aggressive driving behaviors
How Is Fault Determined in a Sideswipe Accident?
Generally speaking, the driver who fails to maintain a single lane is at fault in a sideswipe accident. Drivers have an obligation to remain in their own lane and only move across lane lines when it is completely safe to do so. This requires drivers to check blind spots, assess all surrounding traffic, and give proper signals before changing lanes. If a driver fails to do this, they are likely at fault in the collision. Likewise, if a parked or idle automobile is sideswiped by a passing car, the moving vehicle’s driver will probably be considered the sole at-fault party in the collision.
However, Mississippi’s comparative negligence law recognizes that there may be more than one driver at fault in an auto crash. Comparative negligence means that a percentage of fault is given to each at-fault party. A partially at-fault party can still recover damages, but the award amount will be reduced based on the percentage of negligence. For example, the driver of the vehicle changing lanes may be 80% at fault, but another driver who was distracted by cell phone use and did not notice the other vehicle with enough time to react may be 20% at fault.
Your attorney will examine all available evidence to determine liability and make sure you are protected when an accident was caused by another driver’s negligence. These pieces of evidence can help answer questions concerning the cause of the wreck and the party at fault:
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Police accident reports
- Traffic or surveillance camera footage
- Photographs of the accident scene including current road and weather conditions
- Physical evidence on the road, such as skid marks and debris
- Reports from auto mechanics who examined the damaged vehicles
- Expert witness statements from highway safety experts or accident reconstructionists
- Medical records of any party injured in the accident
What Can You Do to Help Your Car Accident Claim?
As with any type of motor vehicle accident, the first step is to move cautiously to the side of the road, activate your hazard lights, and call your local police. Dial 911 immediately if any party is injured. Ensuring that all involved drivers are safe is the primary concern following a vehicle collision.
The best way to protect yourself is to be preventative and defensive. Be aware of the actions of other drivers and anticipate vehicle movements as much as possible. Taking road, weather, lighting, and traffic conditions into consideration, exercise caution appropriately and make note of any drivers who are behaving erratically or dangerously. If you suspect that a driver may be operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, move to the side of the road and safely make a phone call to report their vehicle to the police. Simple preventative actions such as these can stop a dangerous collision before it occurs.
But if you are involved in a sideswipe accident caused by another driver, there are specific actions you can take to help your case. By partnering with a qualified Jackson, MS car accident attorney with experience in vehicle collision cases, you can make sure that each step of the legal process is handled with care, attention, and expertise. Through effective, proactive management of your car accident claim, you can help your lawyer help you achieve the most favorable case outcome.
The following recommendations can make for a smooth process toward achieving the compensation you need to recover your losses:
- Exchange information with the other driver. This should include name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number, and insurance carrier.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses of the accident.
- Take pictures and videos while the scene is still undisturbed, showing weather conditions and any damage to the surround areas.
- Seek medical help and follow your doctor’s instructions completely.
- Keep careful records of any medical documents, including physician notes and test results.
- Do not return to work until your physician has advised you to do so.
- Keep a journal to document your injury, pain, symptoms, and changes to your health.
- Refrain from posting about your case on social media.
- Keep in close communication with your lawyer and do not sign or accept a settlement offer without first discussing it with your legal representative.
Contact a Jackson, MS Car Accident Lawyer
While recovering from a car accident, it is important to know that you are represented by a lawyer who cares about your wellbeing. A good attorney will use their knowledge and experience to overcome any obstacles to a successful case outcome. Our clients know that we are litigators who understand how to resolve issues. For advice on how to proceed with your sideswipe car accident claim, reach out to our office today. We will help you schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.