What To Do After Getting Sideswiped in a Car Accident

Sideswipe accidents happen when the sides of two cars traveling in similar or opposite directions collide. Typically, these accidents happen when one motorist makes an improper lane change or swerves out of their lane.

Glancing blows from sideswipe collisions often result in minor scrapes to severe crashes. The consequences of a sideswipe accident depend on the force and speed of the impact. Apart from property damage, it can also cause severe injuries to motorists and passengers.

In 2020, two-vehicle collisions, including sideswipes, caused 1,400 fatal crashes in the US. These accidents resulted in 1,500 fatalities and more than 370,000 non-fatal injuries.

If you were sideswiped, there are various legal remedies that you may pursue to recover damages for your injuries. Whether you file a claim or lawsuit, hiring a personal injury lawyer is advisable. 

Usually, law firms offer free case consultations to potential clients. Accident lawyers must evaluate your case first to determine which legal remedy is best for you.

Key Takeaways
  • Obtain and keep track of all official documentation related to the sideswipe accident.
  • You may file a claim or a lawsuit to seek damages for your losses.
  • Hire a reliable car accident attorney to help you with your case and recover maximum compensation.

Types of Sideswiped Car Accidents

Sideswipe collisions can happen in various forms, each with unique implications. 

For instance, a sideswipe car accident at high speeds may result in severe injuries compared to a low-impact collision. Similarly, a sideswipes collision on a narrow road or construction zone may be more dangerous since there is less space to maneuver and escape the impact.

In addition, the impact’s location can also affect the accident’s severity. For example, a sideswipe accident at the front may cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle. This scenario may trigger a multi-vehicle or rollover accident.

On the other hand, if a vehicle strikes the rear of another car, it may cause less damage. Although it may cause fewer consequences, it can still result in minor car damage and injuries.

Improper lane change

Improper lane changes occur when motorists move their vehicles to another lane without ensuring it is safe. It usually involves various road activities, such as failure to signal, sudden lane changes, and failure to take proper care before switching lanes. Likewise, one particular cause of sideswipes happens when a driver fails to consider their blind spots.

Bicyclists and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to injuries from improper lane changes. Due to their smaller size, they are less visible to other drivers and can be easily overlooked when changing lanes.

In addition, abrupt lane changes can cause other motorists to react suddenly. It increases the risk of chain-reaction accidents or multi-vehicle crashes.

Unsafe merging

Unsafe merging happens when a driver fails to correctly enter a new traffic lane. It can occur when a driver merges without signaling or fails to properly check blind spots.

Sometimes, the driver entering a major roadway from a lower-speed road must merge safely. However, there are some cases where the merging vehicle can be a victim of another driver’s reckless maneuver.

Similar to unsafe lane changes, hazardous merging can endanger other road users, including bicyclists and motorcyclists. It can also cause rear-end collisions if the driver behind cannot slow down fast enough to avoid an accident.

Head-on sideswipe

A sideswipe accident can also occur when two vehicles from opposite directions avoid a head-on collision by swerving in the same direction. This type of accident is also known as a “near-miss sideswipe.” It happens when the sudden movement of both cars in the same direction causes them to collide on their sides.

For instance, if a motorist crosses the centerline of a two-lane road, the other driver may swerve to avoid a head-on collision. However, if both motorists swerve in the same direction, the sides of their vehicles might collide.

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Common Causes of Sideswiped Car Accidents

Various factors cause sideswipe accidents, including operator error, vehicle malfunction, and environmental factors. 

Operator error is the most common cause of car accidents. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than half of fatal crashes resulted from operator error in 2020. It includes reckless driving behavior such as speeding, impaired driving, and failing to yield the right of way.

Meanwhile, vehicle malfunctions like tire blowouts, sterling malfunctions, and brake failures can also result in sideswiped accidents. Likewise, environmental factors such as bad weather, road debris, and uneven road surfaces can also contribute to collisions.


Motorists driving at a speed over the legal limit might face legal consequences. Similarly, speeding is among the leading causes of traffic accidents. Data from the Insurance Information Institute report revealed that speeding caused 19.1 percent of fatal crashes.

It can occur for multiple reasons, such as hurrying to reach a destination or keeping up with the traffic flow. Sometimes, a driver may be unaware of a road’s speed limit or not realize how fast they are driving.

Speeding exacerbates the effects of a motor vehicle accident as it reduces a driver’s reaction time and ability to control a vehicle. 

Distracted driving

Distracted driving involves activities that take a driver’s attention away from the road. It is among the leading causes of car accidents, including sideswiped car accidents. Distracted driving can happen in many ways, including the following:

  • Texting or using a phone:
  • Eating or drinking
  • Adjusting the radio or other devices
  • Talking with passengers

Fatigued driving

Fatigued or drowsy driving happens when a driver operates a vehicle while feeling fatigued, sleepy, or tired. It can occur when a driver has not slept enough or suffers from a sleep disorder. 

Similarly, fatigue is also a result of working long hours, irregular work shifts, and ingesting medication, which causes drowsiness. Suppose a driver has been awake for 20 hours. Their impairment is comparable to a motorist with 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, which is the legal limit for most states.

Fatigued driving can affect a driver’s ability to react, focus, and make decisions on the road. Further, drowsy drivers may experience microsleeps or brief sleep episodes that last a few seconds. 

Intoxicated driving

Intoxicated or drunk driving happens when a driver operates a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It can impair vision, judgment, and motor skills, making it unsafe for drivers to be on the road. In addition, other prescription drugs can cause drowsiness and affect driving performance.

The motorist is not the only party who can be liable for drunk driving. The Dram shop law imposes liability on establishments that negligently serve an intoxicated person alcohol. The establishment can be liable if the customer causes harm due to their intoxication. 

Suppose a person drove their vehicle while drunk and caused a sideswipe accident. The establishment may also face negligence claims for serving alcohol to a patron they know is reasonably intoxicated.

What To Do After Being Sideswiped

After a sideswipe car accident, motorists must take immediate action to protect their legal rights so they can ensure the best possible outcome for their case. Moreover, different circumstances can affect their case, such as how soon they reported the accident or sought medical treatment. 

Report the accident to law enforcement

Drivers must report the accident to the police immediately. Failing to report promptly may raise suspicion that the driver was attempting to hide something or cover up their involvement in the incident.

Seek medical treatment

Car occupants must let a medical professional evaluate their injuries, regardless if they seem minor or severe. This step is essential not only for their health but also for their accident claim. Failing to seek medical care can create doubt about the severity of the victim’s injuries and weaken their case.

Track medical bills

Proper documentation is crucial for the recovery of compensation. Keep a record of all costs associated with your treatment, including the following:

  • Bills paid by your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage
  • Deductible or co-pay amounts you have to cover
  • Bills you incurred from your medical care provider.

Follow your medical care provider’s instructions

Failing to try to recover from your injuries could negatively impact your claim. Insurers may argue that you worsened your injuries by not complying with the doctor’s orders.

It might feel frustrating, but not complying with the doctor’s instructions could reduce or limit your compensation claim. 

Obtain a copy of the police report

It is vital to double-check the fine details of your accident’s police report. Check the time, date, location of the incident, and any other relevant information included in the report.

If you notice inaccuracies, contact the police department to request a review. An accurate police report helps support your case significantly.

Options for Financial Recovery

In the aftermath of a sideswipe accident, the injured victim has several legal remedies available to pursue compensation for their injuries and losses.

Insurance claims

For instance, victims may file an insurance claim from the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurance claim process involves the following:

  • Notifying the insurance company of the accident
  • Providing evidence of the injuries and damages
  • Negotiating a settlement

Victims can file a claim from their insurance company in no-fault states, provided they carry PIP coverage. This rule applies regardless of who was at fault for the incident. Their PIP insurance will shoulder their medical expenses and other treatment for injuries they sustained during the accident.

Civil litigation

Victims may also file a lawsuit and undergo civil litigation in court. In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured victim must establish negligence. It involves proving the other party breached their duty of care, caused the accident, and directly caused them damages and injuries.

Sometimes, they may file a lawsuit if the at-fault driver’s insurance company repeatedly denies their claim or unnecessarily delays them.

Types of Compensation You May Receive

Accident victims pursuing personal injury claims resulting from sideswiped car accidents may receive compensation for their injuries. The compensation can be classified into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages

Economic damages cover the victim’s financial losses resulting from the accident. It includes medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, lost wages, property damages, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Medical expenses refer to hospital bills, prescription drug costs, rehabilitation costs, and other expenses related to medical care.

Non-economic damages

On the other hand, non-economic damages aim to compensate the victims for emotional damages. It includes pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress caused by the incident.

Courts typically use two methods to calculate non-economic damages—the multiplier and the per diem method. 

The multiplier method involves multiplying the economic damages by a certain number to arrive at the total amount of non-economic damages. Meanwhile, the per diem method assigns a daily rate for the damages and multiplies it by the days the victim has suffered. 

Sometimes, the court also considers the days they are expected to suffer from the injuries.

Punitive damages

Sometimes, the court may also award plaintiffs punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages seek to punish the defendant for their unlawful conduct and discourage others from engaging in similar acts.

Courts do not grant punitive damages to all personal injury victims. They only award it to cases wherein the defendant’s behavior is cruel or intentional.

Did you know?

About 38 percent of fatal crashes in 2020 were moving vehicle collisions. Meanwhile, collisions with fixed objects, such as guardrails and lamp posts, account for 30.6 percent of all traffic deaths.

Book a Free Consultation With a Car Accident Lawyer

Suppose you were in a sideswiped car accident. The first thing you should do is report the incident to law enforcement officers. In many cases, police reports can make or break your claim. Thus, you must be forthcoming with your circumstances and report the incident immediately to authorities.

It can be overwhelming to file a claim or lawsuit alone, but car accident attorneys can take this load off your shoulders. 

The Personal Injury Center has a network of lawyers specializing in car accident cases. You may book a free case evaluation and discuss the best legal option for your case with them. It does not only expedite your claims process, but it also helps you recover maximum compensation for your losses.

Seek legal advice from a car accident attorney today. Visit The Personal Injury Center to connect you to a reliable lawyer. 

FAQs on Getting Sideswiped

A sideswiped car accident happens when two vehicles traveling parallel to each other strike each other’s sides. On the other hand, a T-bone collision occurs when one vehicle’s front crashes into the side of another car, forming a “T” shape.

The motorist who did not change lanes is still responsible for paying attention to traffic flow and speed limits. You might be at fault for the sideswipe accident if you were speeding up or slowing down as the other vehicle changed lanes. Similarly, you might be liable if you broke traffic laws during the accident.

The statute of limitations for sideswiped car accidents varies per state. However, it may range from one to six years from the date of the incident.