The Sideswipe Collision Guide: Most Common Scenarios & Injuries

One of the most common types of accidents that happens across the country every day is a sideswipe collision, causing countless injuries and fatalities. In this article, we’ll go over the factors contributing to sideswipe accidents, their common causes, and the range of injuries they commonly inflict.

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What is a Sideswipe Collision? 

A sideswipe collision often occurs when the sides of two parallel vehicles make contact. This typically happens when one vehicle unintentionally drifts out of its lane, coming into contact with a vehicle in the adjacent lane. Unlike head-on or rear-end collisions, sideswipe accidents involve a lateral, glancing blow rather than a direct hit, which can make their impact less straightforward to assess. 

Most Common Sideswipe Accident Scenarios 

Sideswipe accidents, while varying in specifics, often follow certain common scenarios. Understanding these scenarios can help in both preventing and responding to such incidents. Here are some of the most typical situations where sideswipe collisions occur: 

  1. Lane Changing and Merging: This is perhaps the most frequent scenario for sideswipe collisions. A driver might fail to check their blind spot or misjudge the distance to another vehicle when changing lanes or merging onto a highway. Such incidents can also occur if a driver doesn’t properly signal their intention to change lanes, leaving nearby drivers unprepared. 
  2. Drifting Between Lanes: Distraction, fatigue, or impairment can lead drivers to unintentionally drift from their lane into an adjacent one. This can happen gradually or suddenly, and the other driver might not have enough time or space to avoid a collision. 
  3. Dual Lane Changes: Sideswipe accidents can occur when two vehicles, driving side by side, simultaneously attempt to move into the same lane from opposite sides. 
  4. Highway Driving: High-speed roads, like highways and freeways, are common sites for sideswipe collisions, especially in heavy traffic conditions where drivers are frequently changing lanes.
  5. Narrow Roads and Construction Zones: On roads with limited space or in construction zones where lane widths might be reduced, the risk of sideswipe collisions increases. 
  6. Aggressive Driving and Road Rage: Aggressive maneuvers, such as sudden lane changes, can lead to sideswipe collisions, especially when drivers don’t take the time to properly assess their surroundings. 

Most Common Sideswipe Accident Injuries 

Sideswipe accidents, while often less severe than head-on or rear-end collisions, can still result in a range of injuries. The nature and severity of these injuries largely depend on factors like the speed of the vehicles, the angle of impact, and whether the occupants were wearing seatbelts. Here are some of the most common injuries associated with sideswipe accidents: 

  • Soft Tissue Injuries: These are among the most frequent injuries in any car accident, including sideswipes. Soft tissue injuries involve damage to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Whiplash, which is caused by the sudden movement of the head and neck, is a typical soft tissue injury in these types of collisions. 
  • Cuts and Bruises: Due to the lateral impact of a sideswipe, occupants can be thrown against the doors, windows, or other hard surfaces inside the car, leading to cuts and bruises. Broken glass from windows can also cause lacerations. 
  • Head and Brain Injuries: If the impact causes an occupant’s head to strike a window, steering wheel, or other hard surfaces, it can lead to concussions or more severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Even if there’s no direct impact, the jarring motion of a sideswipe can cause brain injuries. 
  • Bone Fractures: The force of a sideswipe collision can break bones, particularly in the arms or hands if they are thrown against the door, or in the lower body if the car’s side structure intrudes into the passenger compartment. 
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: The torsional (twisting) force exerted on the body in a sideswipe accident can lead to spinal cord injuries. These njuries can range from minor (causing temporary pain and discomfort) to severe (leading to long-term disability or paralysis).
  • Psychological Trauma: Apart from physical injuries, sideswipe accidents can lead to psychological issues such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a fear of driving. These psychological impacts are sometimes overlooked but can be as debilitating as physical injuries. 



Damages You Can Recover 

In the aftermath of a sideswipe collision, victims are often eligible to recover damages that cover a wide range of losses. These recoverable damages are generally designed to compensate for both tangible and intangible consequences of the collision. This would include: 

  • Medical expenses 
  • Lost wages 
  • Repair or replacement of damaged property 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Loss of quality of life 

What To Do After a Crash 

After any kind of crash, it’s extremely important to adhere to legal requirements and protect your interests. Here’s a list of actions to consider:

  1. Check for Injuries: Immediately assess your own physical condition and that of your passengers. If anyone is hurt, call for emergency medical assistance. 
  2. Move to Safety: If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road to avoid obstructing traffic and to reduce the risk of further accidents. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. 
  3. Call the Police: In many jurisdictions, it’s required to report an accident to the police, especially if there are significant injuries or property damage. A police report can be invaluable in legal and insurance proceedings. 
  4. Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Be sure to get their name, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, and license plate number.
  5. Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene, including damage to all vehicles involved, any injuries, and overall road conditions. These can be crucial for insurance claims and potential legal action. 
  6. Look for Witnesses: If there are witnesses, get their contact information. They could provide valuable testimony if there are disputes about the accident’s circumstances. 
  7. Notify Your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with all the information and evidence you have gathered. 
  8. Keep Records: Document everything related to the accident, including medical visits and treatments, repairs to your vehicle, and any other expenses incurred as a result of the crash. 

How an Accident Attorney Can Help You 

An accident attorney has a deep understanding of relevant laws and in deciphering the complex issues of liability and compensation. An attorney also acts as a buffer between you and insurance companies, which are often more inclined to settle claims quickly rather than fairly. By advocating on your behalf, they work to secure a settlement that genuinely reflects the full scope of your losses and suffering. Handling everything from evidence collection to expert consultations, and even court representation if necessary. 

The Sideswipe Collision Guide Conclusion 

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, from understanding legal nuances to negotiating fair compensation. At Harris, Preston, & Chambers, our years of expertise in injury law means we’re well-equipped to help you navigate these challenges. Whether you’re dealing with the repercussions of a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, or even an incident like a dog bite, our experienced team is here to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Trust us to be your ally in these tough times, working tirelessly to secure the justice and compensation you deserve.

*Nothing herein constitutes legal advice. You should obtain independent legal counsel regarding your specific factual situation.