Things You Need To Understand About Sideswipe Accidents

A sideswipe accident happens when one vehicle’s side hits another car’s side. In 2020, the Insurance Information Institute (III) recorded 950 fatal sideswipe collisions or 2.7 percent of all deadly crashes.

In South Carolina, a sideswipe accident between a tour bus and two vehicles resulted in the death of two people. According to the Horry County Fire and Rescue, the auto accident also injured another person. The bus sustained only slight damage in the incident.

Another car accident involved a white pickup truck that sideswiped up to 30 vehicles. The investigators stated that the driver’s medical emergency might have caused the crash. Owners will file a property damage claim with their insurers.

A similar incident happened in Queens, New York. However, the said accident case involved 40 parked cars. The New York Police Department reported that the driver may have fallen asleep. Fortunately, no motorists or pedestrians have been injured.

Communicate with an attorney in case of a side-impact accident involving property damage or personal injury. They can help you receive fair compensation in your personal injury case.

Key Takeaways
  • The common causes of sideswipe accidents include distracted driving, improper lane changes, speeding, reckless driving, and blind spots.
  • After a sideswipe collision, drivers should stay at the scene, report the accident, get medical attention, and demand compensation.
  • You can prevent sideswipe crashes by checking blind spots regularly and following traffic regulations.

Causes of Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe collisions can happen due to distracted driving, improper lane changes, speeding, reckless driving, and blind spots.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving happens when a driver takes their attention away from the road. It may involve using a mobile phone, eating, and thinking of other things while operating a vehicle. It is a dangerous practice that claimed over 3,000 lives in 2020.

Under negligence, a person can be liable for damages if distraction leads to a sideswipe accident. You can invoke this doctrine if the other party has a legal duty to you and they violated that obligation. However, you must prove that you suffered injuries due to their breach of duty.

For instance, Section 545.425 of the Texas Transportation Code prohibits drivers from using communication devices when operating a vehicle. Section 304.820 of the Missouri Revised Statutes has a similar provision. These sections establish one of the requisites of negligence, which is the defendant’s legal duty to the plaintiff.

Suppose a driver breaches this obligation by using their mobile phone, resulting in a car accident involving property damage, injury, or death. In that case, the injured party can file a claim for damages. They can demand compensation for property damage and medical bills, depending on the effect of the accident.

According to a police report, a distracted driver in Colorado sideswiped a patrol vehicle. Law enforcement officers said the driver looked at his GPS while operating their truck. After the incident, the police reinforced a campaign that reminded drivers to avoid dangerous behaviors, such as distracted and impaired driving.

Improper lane changes

An improper lane change is when a motorist moves unsafely from one lane to the next. It may involve following too closely or weaving through traffic. Most people do this because of aggressive or distracted driving. For example, an impaired driver might forget to use a signal before changing lanes.

A driver can be liable in case of an improper lane change under negligence. Section 316.089 of the Florida Statutes provides regulations regarding lane changes. Section 49-637 of the Idaho Code embodies similar rules. These provisions state the drivers’ legal obligations to change lanes safely.

In Florida and Idaho, the motorist should drive within a single lane and move to another one only when it is safe. The law also prohibits drivers from traveling in the center lane unless they are overtaking and passing another vehicle. Likewise, drivers should maintain a safe distance when preparing to turn.

Consequently, the driver should refrain from swerving, especially in areas with heavy traffic. Doing so constitutes a breach of their duty. Suppose swerving results in a sideswipe accident, and someone sustains brain injuries. Then the injured party could demand compensation from the negligent driver. A car accident attorney can help establish negligence concerning the sideswipe collision.

In Connecticut, a wrong-way driver sideswiped a police car around two in the morning. Police tried to stop the dark-colored sedan but could not do so. Unfortunately, the authorities have still not been able to locate the vehicle.


One of the common causes of sideswipe collisions is speeding. In Houston, two speeding drivers got into a sideswipe accident. The alleged racing incident left two passengers dead and two others injured.

Generally, drivers should operate their vehicles at 25 mph in residential areas, 55 mph on rural highways, and 70 mph on interstate highways. These limits contribute to the safety of motorists and prevent serious injuries. 

States also impose speed limits such as Section 32-5A-171 of the Alabama Code and Section 4169 of the Delaware Code.

In Alabama, motorists should not drive exceeding 30 mph in an urban district and 35 mph on unpaved roads. In the case of vehicles carrying hazardous items, the state imposes a speed limit of 55 mph.

In Delaware, drivers should not drive more than 20 mph in school zones. Moreover, two-lane streets have a speed limit of 50 mph, while four-lane roads have a limitation of 55 mph. The state imposes a penalty of $20 for the first offense and $25 for subsequent offenses. Motorists may also pay an additional fine of up to $2 per mile, subject to certain conditions.

Your car accident lawyer can invoke the negligence doctrine for a speeding driver. Suppose a vehicle traveling at high speeds crashed into another car, resulting in injuries. In this case, the injured parties may receive reimbursement for medical expenses.

Reckless driving

Reckless driving may include the following:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Racing other vehicles
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Evading the police
  • Road rage

These dangerous driving practices can lead to a sideswipe accident, like in Chicago in August 2022. A party bus sideswiped 18 vehicles due to reckless driving, disregarding traffic control, and speeding. A video showed the driver forcing their way through oncoming traffic before leaving the accident scene.

A road rage incident also resulted in a sideswipe collision in San Fernando Valley. NBC News reported a 27-year-old man in a BMW pushed a pickup through an intersection. According to local authorities, the driver might have been short-tempered due to a bad day. Witnesses caught the incident on video, and the police arrested the BMW driver for assault. If convicted, the BMW driver faces prison time and possible permanent suspension of their driver’s license. 

Most states impose penalties on reckless driving to prevent drivers from engaging in such dangerous behavior. For instance, Section 40-6-390 of the Georgia Code and Section 23103 of the California Vehicle Code address reckless driving.

In Georgia and California, a motorist is guilty of reckless driving if they drive without considering the safety of other persons and properties. Georgia imposes a penalty of up to $1,000.00 and imprisonment of not more than 12 months. On the other hand, violators in California must pay a fine ranging from $145 to $1,000. Law enforcement officers can also detain them for up to 90 days.

Your personal injury attorney may also prove liability under the doctrine of negligence. The provisions on reckless driving establish the defendant’s legal duty to drive safely. If a negligent driver fails to yield the right of way and results in a side-impact collision, the injured party has a cause of action to file a case.

Blind spots

If your vehicle was in the at-fault driver’s blind spot, they might not see you before changing lanes. These are areas blocked by side mirrors or cargo. The driver’s height may also contribute to the existence of blind spots. For example, too tall and short drivers may have difficulty seeing around blind spots.

Larger vehicles also tend to have larger blind zones. Drivers of sedans can see the traffic situation by turning their heads. Truck drivers may find it more challenging as they are riding higher. 

Although external factors may increase a driver’s blind spots, they can still be liable in a car crash. Drivers should regularly check their blind zones before turning, merging, passing other vehicles, or changing lanes.

The claimant may also share liability if they violate other traffic regulations. For example, a personal injury attorney may establish fault if the other motorist improperly changed lanes. In this case, the plaintiff may not receive the total damages.

Things To Do After a Sideswipe Collision

Stay calm after a sideswipe accident, and do what you can to protect your rights. First, you must remain at the accident scene if you hit a vehicle, or you may face hit-and-run charges. States have varying penalties for hit-and-run, but California may require you to pay up to $1,000. You may also face prison time of up to six months.

Next, call 911 to get medical attention and request police presence. The 911 dispatcher will inform the police about the sideswipe accident. After arriving at the scene, law enforcement officers gather evidence to prepare a police report.

You must get medical attention and tests, even if you sustained only minor injuries. A side-impact collision can cause hidden injuries, such as whiplash, internal bleeding, and traumatic brain injuries. A doctor may also detect signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Include all test results to strengthen your personal injury claim. 

You should also gather evidence for your accident case. Take photos and videos of skid marks, vehicle damage, debris, and the surrounding scene. You can also photograph traffic signs or a yield sign to prove their presence.

State laws typically require involved drivers to report the accident to a police station or judicial officer. Section 600 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law imposes a penalty of up to $1,000 for violators. The law also instructs motorists to exchange license numbers and insurance policy information.

Contacting a personal injury attorney when demanding compensation for medical bills and repair costs is also critical. They can conduct a case review and provide legal advice. Moreover, they know the statute of limitations to file your case on time. Failing to institute a civil suit within the allowable time can lead to its dismissal.

Ways To Prevent Sideswipe Collisions

You can avoid sideswipe crashes if your attention is on the road. You can check your blind spots before changing lanes or turning. Moreover, keep an eye on high-clearance vehicles because they have the most extensive blind zones.

Avoid distracted, impaired, and drowsy driving. Accidents due to driver fatigue can lead to severe injuries and wrongful death. Hence, motorists should take ample rest before driving long hours.

It would be best if you also considered how to handle potential sideswipe accidents. For example, change your location on the road if you do not have enough space to maneuver in case of a collision.

It also helps to report an erratic or aggressive driver. Park your car in a safe place and contact the police. You should also avoid engaging with bad-tempered drivers to prevent inciting road rage incidents.

Did you know?

In 2020, US highway safety regulators recorded 622,222 sideswipe accidents. These represent 11.8 percent of all motor vehicle crashes.

Hire a Reputable Car Accident Lawyer 

Sideswipe accidents can happen anytime when other drivers are negligent, even if you are careful. Unfortunately, it can lead to high costs due to medical expenses and repair expenses. In some cases, it can lead to wrongful death.

If you sustained significant losses due to sideswipe accidents, visit The Personal Injury Center for a free case evaluation. We can match you with experienced attorneys who can help you receive fair compensation.

Sideswipe car accidents can lead to high medical bills and other expenses. Visit The Personal Injury Center to learn how to recover compensation for your losses. Book a free consultation today!

FAQs on Sideswipe Accidents

A sideswipe accident happens when one vehicle's side hits another's side. On the other hand, a T-bone collision is when a car’s bumper hits the side of another, forming a “T” shape.

Aside from sideswipe accidents, you could get into head-on and rear-end collisions. In a head-on crash, vehicles from opposite directions collide with one another. On the other hand, rear-end accidents occur when the front bumper of one car hits the rear end of another.

You should be able to bring your vehicle to any body shop for repairs. The insurer should not be able to decide where you can bring your car.