Who is at Fault for a Sideswipe Car Accident?

Who is at Fault for a Sideswipe Car Accident?

A few months ago, an accident swept the national news even though it did not occur in New York. A mother of six children, including two recently born premature twins who remained hospitalized, was on her way home from visiting them. It was just before midnight when her car was sideswiped by an apparently drunk driver.

The sideswipe caused the young mother’s car to roll over. She was ejected from the car and died at the scene, leaving a grieving husband and six young children to mourn.

What is a Sideswipe Accident?

In a sideswipe accident, one car gets too close to the side of another car and the sides of the two cars connect. This can, as in the example, cause the car that was sideswiped to roll over. Often, the cars remain upright, but run off the road and may hit a parked car or other stationary object.

Sideswipe accidents may involve only one vehicle that swipes a road barrier, street sign, parked car, or another inanimate object.

But, these types of accidents most often happen when two cars are driving beside each other, and one car begins to move into the lane of the other. The causes for this include:

  • Distracted driving: One driver is talking on the phone, texting, putting on make-up, adjusting the radio, and simply weaves out of his or her own lane, colliding with another car.
  • Drowsy driving: A drowsy driver may momentarily nod off and wake up to discover he or she has strayed across the line dividing the lanes and sideswiped another car.
  • Lane change without paying attention to the surroundings and cars in other lanes or a barrier.
  • Merging without looking carefully. The merging driver fails to see where other cars are, and swipes the side of a nearby car.
  • Not taking into account the blind spot. Closely aligned with merging without looking carefully is forgetting to take into account the blind spot and failing to adjust for that. Fortunately, newer models of cars often come with a feature that alerts drivers whenever they start to change lanes, but another car is traveling in the driver’s blind spot.
  • A driver overreacts to a road hazard and moves into the lane of another vehicle.
  • A driver notices he or she is about to sideswipe another vehicle, over-steers to avoid the accident and ends up sideswiping a different car.

Who is at Fault for a Sideswipe Accident

It can be difficult to determine fault in a sideswipe accident. It generally begins with looking at where the vehicles end up on the roadway, which direction they were traveling and where they appeared to be traveling within the lines on the road.

Witness statements, along with each driver’s recollections, will be used to determine fault. If one driver was crossing a center lane, or lane divider, and the other one was traveling legally within their lane, the driver who was crossing will be at fault.

Comparative Fault

New York apportions fault under its comparative fault statute. This means that each party may have been partially at fault for the accident. If you were 50 percent at fault, you will not be able to collect for your damages. If it is determined that you were less than 50 percent at fault, your damages will be reduced in proportion to the degree of fault the court assigns to you.

An example of comparative fault is that if you are awarded $100,000 in damages, but the court determines you were 30 percent at fault for the accident, your award will be reduced by 30 percent. You will collect $70,000 instead of the full $100,000.

Common Sideswipe Accident Injuries

Sideswipe accidents, even at low speeds, can cause severe injuries. There is not the structural protection there is when a car is hit from the back or the front. Some of the most common side impact injuries include:

  • Chest injuries.
  • Lower extremities.
  • Head.
  • Abdomen and pelvis area.

For those on the “hit” side, the door panel caves in and hits the passenger. For those on the side that was not hit, they are hit by the rebound by the pillar where the seatbelt is anchored.

Long Island Sideswipe Accident Attorneys

If you were involved in a sideswipe car accident, our attorneys at Siler & Ingber, LLP, have the experience you need to pursue your claim. We will evaluate all the circumstances of your case and determine how to prove fault. We are committed to collecting all the damages to which you are legally entitled. Contact us as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.

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