Generally, the motorist who made an improper lane change is at fault when you get in a sideswipe accident. These accidents usually occur when merging or changing lanes. Determining liability can get tricky when two vehicles are traveling parallel to each other. Whoever failed to yield the right of way is responsible for the accident.
Sometimes, both vehicles can be at fault for a sideswipe accident. An insurance adjuster will determine each driver’s percentage of fault. A police report can also shed light on who caused the accident.
Driver Error Can Lead to Sideswipe Accidents
Driver error often plays a part in sideswipe accidents. Even if neither driver attempts a lane change, a simple act of negligence can cause a collision. Take a look at the following ways sideswipe accidents can occur:
Improper Lane Changes
When changing lanes, drivers have to adhere to a few traffic laws. They have to:
- Use their blinker
- Check their blind spot
- Yield the right of way to any vehicles that are in the lane they wish to enter.
- Keep an eye on the vehicle in front of them in case it comes to a sudden stop
- Slow down a bit
- Use caution when changing lanes on a curved road
- Check the divisions in the road to make sure they can legally change lanes (the line must be perforated)
- Watch out to avoid animals on the road
When drivers fail to follow traffic laws and safe driving practices, they can easily cause a sideswipe accident. They may also receive a citation for failing to use their blinker or yield the right of way.
Whether on a highway or a regular road, some lanes will end and require drivers to merge into the adjacent one. Signs on the road itself notify drivers of the upcoming merge. If road construction is underway, there should be additional signs telling drivers to merge.
If a driver isn’t paying attention to the road, they could miss these signs. Other times, drivers may try to overtake the vehicles next to them instead of slowing down and letting them pass. In either situation, a sideswipe collision can occur.
Swerving or Drifting
Sometimes, sideswipe accidents occur without attempted lane changes or merges. For example, if a driver is distracted or intoxicated, they may simply drift into the lane next to them. If a road curves suddenly, a non-attentive driver may also swerve into the car next to them.
Determining Who Is At Fault for a Sideswipe Accident
If a driver commits any of the infractions listed above, they would be at fault for the accident. However, it is not always easy to determine fault in a sideswipe accident. Sometimes, both drivers may bear a portion of the fault.
For example, if one driver was speeding and another failed to use their turn signal before merging into their lane, both drivers may be at fault for the sideswipe accident. Proving fault might be difficult in this situation if there were no witnesses or traffic cameras around.
This is why proving fault for sideswipe accidents can get complicated. Insurers may go back and forth, disputing liability. Unlike rear-end accidents, vehicle damage may not help illustrate who bears the fault, either.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Sideswipe Accident
When you determine who bears fault for a sideswipe accident, you must also identify the liable party, which may not always be the other driver. Take a look at a few other parties that may bear responsibility for your injuries:
A Government Entity
Sometimes, drivers swerve into other lanes due to deep cracks or potholes in the pavement. If your sideswipe accident resulted from a poorly maintained road, the governing municipality might bear liability.
A Third-Party Driver
In some cases, a driver sideswipes another vehicle to avoid a collision with a third-party driver. If another driver pulled out in front of the vehicle next to you and caused your accident, they may share liability.
According to the Journal of Safety Research, commercial drivers frequently contribute to accidents involving lane changes. If a commercial driver caused your sideswipe accident, their employer might be liable for your injuries and losses.
Call George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers For Help After a Sideswipe Accident
You do not have to fight for compensation on your own. Our car accident lawyers handle a variety of cases, including sideswipe accidents. We can investigate your collision and gather evidence of another party’s liability.