Sideswipe Collisions: Deceptively Dangerous

Sideswipe collisions are deceptively dangerous. Many people may not be aware that same-side crashes are associated with an increase in injury severity. For that reason, it can be helpful to understand what a sideswipe collision is and how you can protect yourself and your passengers from these dangerous car accidents.

What is a Sideswipe Car Accident?

A sideswipe accident occurs when two sides of a motor vehicle collide. The accidents can occur when two vehicles are traveling in the same direction. Sideswipe crashes can also occur when vehicles are traveling in opposite directions. 

Common situations that can result in a sideswipe collision include, but are not limited to:

  • A driver attempting to change lanes
  • Drivers merging into traffic from an onramp 
  • A vehicle sliding against a fixed object, such as a fence, mailbox, parked vehicle, or barrier
  • Failing to check blind spots, use signals, and yield the right of way
  • Sideswiping a vehicle at an intersection while trying to make a turn
  • A driver trying to avoid a head-on crash sideswipes the vehicle approaching in the opposite direction or another vehicle in the next lane
  • A driver misjudges the room to maneuver between vehicles or objects
  • Losing control of a vehicle because of poor weather conditions or road hazards

The underlying causes of sideswipe accidents vary. However, many of the causes of sideswipe collisions can be traced to human error. Negligence and mistakes behind the wheel that can lead to a sideswipe crash include:

Sadly, many sideswipe accidents could have been avoided had drivers been more attentive and practiced safe driving behaviors. When drivers fail to use good judgment or breaks traffic laws, they can cause traumatic and life-threatening injuries for innocent victims.

Common Injuries Associated with Sideswipe Collisions

Several factors can make a sideswipe accident more dangerous for the occupants of the vehicle. 

The sides of a motor vehicle lack many of the safety features included in other parts of the vehicle. Front airbags are much more common than side airbags on many vehicle models. Also, rear doors rarely have airbags to protect passengers. 

The frame on the side of a vehicle does not withstand a collision, as well as the rear and front of the vehicle. Furthermore, there is much less metal between the passenger and the other vehicle during a sideswipe collision. Therefore, the risk of crushing injuries from the frame entering the vehicle’s interior increases in sideswipe crashes.

Sideswipe accidents involving larger vehicles can also increase the risk of catastrophic injuries to passengers. For example, when a truck or SUV sideswipes a smaller passenger vehicle, it can cause considerable damage to the smaller vehicle, thereby increasing the risk of severe injuries. 

Injuries that are associated with a sideswipe collision include:

  • Broken bones and fractures, especially on the side of the body where the vehicle was struck
  • Traumatic brain injuries, concussions, skull fractures, and other head injuries
  • Neck and back injuries, including spinal cord injuries, herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, and nerve damage
  • Injuries to joints, including knees, elbows, and hips
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Facial injuries, including eye injuries
  • Seat belt and airbag injuries
  • Crushing injuries
  • Injuries to internal organs 
  • Amputations and loss of limbs

The severity and extent of the injuries depend on many factors. Sadly, some sideswipe accidents result in wrongful death or permanent disabilities and impairments. A negligent driver can change a victim’s life forever and cause families to lose loved ones unnecessarily. 

Who is Responsible for the Damages Caused by a Sideswipe Crash?

The driver who caused the sideswipe collision is responsible for the damages caused by the wreck. Damages include the financial losses experienced by the victim and the pain, suffering, and trauma experienced by the victim.

Victims of a side impact accident can receive compensation for damages including, but not limited to:

  • Past and future cost of medical treatment and care
  • Past and future loss of income and benefits
  • Decreases in the earning potential of victims because of permanent impairments
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional trauma and distress
  • Disabilities and permanent impairments
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life

Other damages caused by a sideswipe collision could be included in a personal injury claim. A personal injury lawyer helps you document your damages to maximize the value of your injury claim. 

How Can You Avoid a Sideswipe Accident?

Improvements in the design of many vehicles and reinforcements of passenger compartments have helped protect occupants during a side-impact crash. The use of seat belts, airbags, car safety seats, and side airbag curtains have been instrumental in reducing the severity of sideswipe injuries. 

Vehicle technology is also helping to prevent sideswipe accidents. 

Driver assistance technologies and vehicle automation continue to improve to help mitigate human error while driving. Lane assistance technology alerts drivers if they begin to drift out of their lane. Driver-assist features, such as automatic steering and braking, can help avoid a sideswipe crash.

However, safety improvements alone cannot prevent all sideswipe accidents. Drivers need to be aware of the dangers of sideswipe collisions and take steps to avoid these types of crashes. Things that drivers can do to avoid a sideswipe accident include:

  • Always check blind spots and change lanes legally and safely
  • Never operate a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Avoid lingering in a truck or vehicle’s blind spots
  • Leave sufficient space between your vehicle and other vehicles on the road
  • Maintain safe speed limits
  • Check numerous times before merging into traffic to ensure you have sufficient room to enter the lane
  • Adjust speed when driving conditions change, such as during periods of rain, snow, ice, and fog
  • Check when turning to ensure you have a sufficient turning radius to avoid sideswiping a vehicle or object
  • Use caution when driving past objects and parked vehicles

The steps that you take while driving can prevent a tragic accident. However, you cannot control what other drivers do when they are behind the wheel. If you are injured in a sideswipe collision, seek immediate medical treatment, and contact a car accident lawyer for legal advice. 

You could be entitled to compensation for your damages. However, proving fault for a sideswipe accident could be complicated. A personal injury lawyer has the resources, skills, and experience to help you fight for the compensation you deserve after a negligent driver causes an accident.