When we think of car accidents, we usually think of a rear-end collision, or two cars crashing head-on, but sideswipe car accidents are one of the most common car accidents in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, there were 961 sideswipe fatalities and 121,000 sideswipe accidents resulting in injuries.
In Nebraska (2017 statistics), there were a total of 34,999 crashes. This total included 17,250 multi-vehicle accidents occurring at intersections. Of these, 1,492 (8.6 percent of total crashes) were sideswipe accidents in which the vehicles were traveling in the same direction and 181 crashes in which the vehicles were traveling in the opposite direction.
All accidents are dangerous. The front and rear ends of a vehicle are likely to protect the occupants from the impact. However side-impact collisions have less protection for the occupants. There is very little space between the side of the car and the people inside the car. So even collisions with minor impact can injure the occupants’ shoulders and necks because of the sudden side-to-side jerking motion.
These accidents also tend to cause cars to spin out, lose control, or collide in other ways. Therefore, compared to other types of collisions, sideswipe accidents may be more dangerous at lower speeds.
What Is a Sideswipe Collision?
Sideswipe collisions can happen at any moment. They often take place in the outer lanes of highways. Perhaps you are on the highway, driving next to another car and the other vehicle starts to move into your lane, resulting in a sideswipe collision. Sometimes they only involve one vehicle and an obstruction or object, such as a car parallel parked on the side of the road.
Sideswipe collisions are frequently called “blind spot” accidents. In some cases, these accidents mainly cause damage to the vehicle, such as dented doors, scraped quarter panels and damaged side-view mirrors. However, the initial impact may be just the beginning of a more serious incident because the driver may swerve or overcorrect to try and avoid a dangerous accident. This could result in something as serious as a roll-over accident.
Common Causes of Sideswipe Accidents
A sideswipe collision can happen before you know it. Usually, drivers traveling in the outer lane on the highway are going faster, because they are trying to pass another vehicle. Many times a driver who suddenly pulls out into traffic and speeds up can cause an accident if another driver suddenly needs to brake or to turn sharply. Sideswipe collisions also happen when a car collides with a stationary object such as a barrier, parked car, or other obstruction by the side of the road.
Drivers sometimes sideswipe because they swerve quickly or turn the steering wheel too abruptly. Other factors that contribute to sideswipe accidents include:
- A driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs veers out of their lane.
- A fatigued or distracted driver veers out of their lane.
- A driver changes lane without looking to see if the lane they are moving into is clear. In some cases there may be another car in the driver’s blind spot, so the driver changing lanes mistakenly believes that the lane is clear.
- Multiple drivers may try to merge into the same lane at the same time.
- A driver reacts to a road hazard or impending accident by swerving. Rather than crashing into one vehicle, the car ends up side-swiping another.
- Reckless drivers.
- Drivers experiencing road rage.
A sideswipe accident is not the same as a side impact accident. A sideswipe collision usually happens when two cars are traveling side by side, and one veers into the other. Side-impact collisions include accidents commonly known as “T-bone” collisions, in which the front end of one vehicle hits another vehicle broadside.
Sideswipe accidents are hard to anticipate or avoid. They often occur on the highway, so the vehicles are traveling at high speeds. The size of the vehicles involved in the collision, the relative speed of the two vehicles and the side of the car which is struck are factors in determining the severity of any potential injuries.
Rear-seated occupants (often children) who are seated on the same side as the crash impact were more likely to be badly or fatally injured than those seated on the opposite side. In general, those seated in the front benefit from more advanced safety technology.
Common injuries that occur in sideswipe collisions include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Neck, back and shoulder injuries
- Hip damage and injuries
- Knee injuries
- Cuts and bruises
Compensation for Sideswipe Accidents
Victims of sideswipe accidents can collect compensatory damages for the injuries caused as a result of the accident. These may include compensation for financial losses, such as costs for medical treatment, therapy, long-term medical care, lost wages, and loss of future income. You may also be entitled to compensation for such injuries as pain and suffering or emotional distress.
If you or a loved one were injured in a sideswipe accident, you may be entitled to compensation. There are time limits for filing personal injury lawsuits, so you should consult a personal injury attorney right away.