A side-swipe accident occurs when vehicles driving parallel to one another collide. Sometimes the drivers walk away with little more than a few minor dents to the cars, but more often than not, the property damage is substantial. In cases where both vehicles travel at high speed, the collision can have catastrophic damages. Suppose you suffered an injury or lost someone you love because of a side-swipe car accident. In that case, you may benefit from speaking with a car accident lawyer about possible compensation for your losses. You should not have to face financial repercussions for someone else’s negligence.
How Do You Determine Fault in a Side-Swipe Car Accident?
In most cases, the driver exiting a lane, and striking another vehicle, is responsible for the accident and resulting damages. However, fault determination is not always that simple in a side-swipe accident. Every driver learns to check the mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or merging from a ramp, but that does not mean they always practice those lessons on the road. Consider the fault potential for accidents resulting from merging or lane changing. Under certain circumstances, either driver may be all or partially responsible.
Under What Conditions Would the Driver Changing Lanes Be at Fault?
More often than not, a side-swipe accident caused by an improper lane change is the fault of the driver moving from one lane to another. Some common examples of actions that place responsibility for the accident on the driver changing lanes include:
- Attempting to cut off another vehicle, meaning trying to switch lanes before clearing a safe distance ahead of the other driver
- Ignoring blind spots when checking for vehicles in adjacent lanes
- Driving recklessly on wet or icy roads, causing the car to hydroplane or spin out of control
- Driving while distracted, causing them to drift into another lane slowly
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, making it difficult to maintain control of the vehicle
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Driving at night without the headlights
The risk under any of these circumstances is causing a severe accident. Speeding is the most significant contributing factor to the severity of the accident.
When Would a Merging Driver Be at Fault?
Many common misconceptions about merging exist. Should drivers move out of the far-right lane to accommodate merging vehicles? Should the merging car speed up or slow down when exiting a ramp? To help you better understand how the merging driver could be at fault in a side-swipe accident, here are some examples of ways they may be responsible:
- Merging without checking for vehicles in the lane
- Cutting off another car instead of waiting for them to pass
- Being indecisive at the merging point
- Not using a turn signal
A driver can cause an accident by merging too slowly or too quickly as well. The idea is that you should enter traffic in a way that does not cause any significant disturbance, and you should never drive at speeds excessively faster or slower than the flow of traffic.
When Would the Stationary Driver in Either Case Be at Fault?
In the case of changing lanes, the driver remaining in their lane is typically not at fault. However, should they speed up or slow down as the other vehicle changes lanes, they could cause an accident. In addition, aggressive or distracted driving could also lead to a collision. For example, someone with road rage may purposefully try to block someone from changing lanes and take it too far.
Similarly, a non-merging driver can cause an accident in a few ways. For example, they may fail to adjust their speed or change into an empty lane to allow the merging vehicle to exit the ramp. They could also be responsible if they follow too closely to a vehicle to block someone from merging. This could lead to a multiple vehicle accident.
What if a Side-Swipe Occurs When Both Cars Change Lanes?
On busy interstates with multiple lanes, it is common for cars to change lanes simultaneously. Parallel drivers with a lane between them may switch lanes and side-swipe each other, but determining who is at fault in that case can be challenging. Changing lanes without a turn signal or changing multiple lanes at once could implicate fault in one driver over another, but without camera footage, that could be difficult to prove.
What Damages Could You Recover From a Side-Swipe Accident?
Losses from a car accident generally fall under the umbrella of compensatory damages. These include the economic and non-economic losses associated with your injuries. For example, economic damages include:
- Cost of medical bills and future medical treatments for your injuries
- Amount of wages lost because of missed work during treatment
- Amount of income lost due to loss of earning capacity, usually caused by a disability
- Cost of repair to your property
- Cost of replacing your irreparable vehicle
- Cost of in-home care needed to help you take care of your children or handle household chores
- Cost of transportation to and from medical visits
The non-economic damages include the mental anguish brought on by the accident. For example, these damages may include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship or consortium if you lost a loved one
- Inability to enjoy life the same way you did before
- Changes to life caused by disfigurement or disability
How you value these changes sometimes requires a sophisticated process created by precedented cases. You may benefit from speaking with a side-swipe accident lawyer about your options because the defense will likely attempt to argue against your determined value for non-economic damages.
How Does the Court Award Compensation When Both Drivers Are Responsible?
Most car accident lawsuits settle before anyone has to enter a courtroom. However, when the case does make it to trial, the court must designate two significant figures: the percentage of fault belonging to both parties and the value of the damages awarded to the plaintiff. The court then applies the comparative negligence rule to the case.
The comparative negligence rule allows the plaintiff to take home a portion of the final awarded compensation depending on the value of their share of responsibility for the accident. For example, the court may conclude that the damages amount to $100,000. However, if they find the plaintiff 25% responsible for the accident, the plaintiff can only receive $75,000. The court deducts 25% to account for the plaintiff’s role in the accident.
Additionally, the state determines whether or not the plaintiff can receive any compensation if they are more than 50% responsible by adhering to one of two types of comparative negligence:
- Pure comparative negligence allows you to take home compensation at any percentage of fault as long as it is less than 100%.
- Modified comparative negligence only allows you to take home compensation if you are less responsible than the other party.
Only 13 states apply pure comparative negligence. Nearly all the rest adhere to modified comparative negligence.
Would You Benefit From Contacting a Side-Swipe Accident Lawyer?
When considering hiring a side-swipe accident lawyer, you may fear compounding attorneys’ fees and prolonged cases. While you certainly have the right to represent yourself, you have nothing to lose or fear from hiring legal representation. Like most personal injury attorneys, a car accident lawyer typically works on contingency. Essentially, their payment comes out of your settlement or award when the case concludes. That means there are no upfront fees for their services, and you have a much better chance of settling faster than you would on your own.
Some other benefits you receive from working with a car accident attorney include:
- They process all the legal documents for you.
- They handle all conversations with the defendant’s legal presentation as well as the insurance company.
- They can help you collect all the information and documentation needed to support your claim.
- They know how to accurately assign a monetary value to the more subjective damages, such as pain and suffering.
- They are there for you to offer support during your recovery.
- They conduct an independent investigation into your accident to collect the evidence you need to prove your claim.
- They will start negotiations for settlement immediately and exhaust all options to get to a fair payout and avoid going to court.
Our team at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers can provide you with the legal experience and tenacity necessary to reach a fair settlement so you can get back to your life and nurture your injuries without fear of financial ruin. We understand the debt that often comes from damages caused by a car accident. Our aim is to provide powerful legal representation without contributing to the financial blow. That is why the first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee ensures that we get paid only after you get paid. Our team is ready and able to assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation, and we will get started on your case without pause. There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R).