Sideswipe car accidents can be much more dangerous than you might think, especially when high speeds or large vehicles are involved. Establishing liability in a sideswipe accident can require a good deal of research and investigation. Driver responsibility is at the core of creating an auto collision insurance or legal claim, so it is one of the most important first steps to devote your attention to following a sideswipe crash.
How Do Sideswipe Accidents Happen?
A sideswipe auto accident happens when the sides of two different vehicles impact each other. Not only can it happen when they are traveling in opposite directions; it can also occur when both are traveling in the same side direction. Though the damage might be minor in many instances, it can still be quite serious. If an initially minor sideswipe leads to a loss of control by either driver, the vehicle(s) could swerve and crash into things like medians, other vehicles, light posts, and trees. In one of the worst-case scenarios, a sideswipe can lead to a rollover crash.
Sideswipes frequently occur after a vehicle begins moving into another vehicle’s lane. It can happen when drivers are speeding; changing lanes without checking their blind spots; or are intoxicated, fatigued, reckless, or distracted by their phones or GPS devices. These unfortunate events can also happen when drivers are distracted by road conditions like when the roads are slippery, there is poor visibility, or when several motorists try to merge into one lane at the same time. Sideswipe collisions also happen when moving cars hit parked vehicles.
How is Fault Determined in Sideswipe Collisions?
Georgia is an at-fault car insurance state, so negligent drivers can be legally obliged to cover the losses suffered by other drivers that they have sideswiped. After claims are made, insurance adjusters look at physical evidence, police reports, witness testimony, and other information that can help to show exactly what occurred. After everything has been analyzed, adjusters make decisions about which driver was at fault, which then factors into how much they will pay for the claim.
If there are two insurance companies involved there may be two opposing viewpoints, and an at-fault driver’s insurance provider will often attempt to claim that the other driver was liable for what happened. Georgia also has a modified comparative negligence law, so if you are held partially responsible for the accident your compensation could be lowered according to the percentage of fault. Should that amount be 50 percent or more, you will not receive any damages. You do have the right to challenge their findings, and this is one task that an experienced car accident lawyercan help you with.
What Kinds of Evidence Can Determine Fault in Sideswipe Accidents?
Photos of vehicle damage are one of the most common ways to show proof of a sideswipe accident. Investigators will look at the extent of the damage, scene of the accident, and points of impact on the vehicles involved. Though the two vehicles would have been next to one another at the time of the crash, the damage patterns may provide insight as to which driver caused the collision. Take extensive photos of both vehicles as soon as possible after the crash. It is also wise to snap pictures of skid marks, traffic signs, weather conditions, and any other extenuating factors that could have contributed to the sideswipe. Another source for evidence is traffic cameras. If you do not see one at the scene, you may be able to search for information about this online. Law firms can usually obtain this footage if you need it.
As with other kinds of automobile accidents, eyewitness statements are vital to proving driver liability. The person offering information could be a passenger in your car, a driver in a vehicle not involved in the accident, a pedestrian, bicyclist, or a law enforcement officer. In some cases, expert witnesses like accident reconstruction specialists are appointed to share their opinions about what happened.
You will also want to obtain a police report for your sideswipe crash, even if it does not seem to be that extensive. According to 2019 Georgia Code Title 40 (OCGA §40-6-273), auto crashes that result in injuries, deaths, or property damage over $500 must be reported to the police. As for that last category, even a minor fender bender can cost that much to repair and probably more! In any case, you will want to get a police report because it can provide valuable evidence for your claim. It will include the makes, years, and models of the involved vehicles, location, and date of the accident, along with information that indicates if anyone received a traffic citation or if someone was arrested. Ask the responding officer to provide contact information for getting the report while at the scene as it can take a few days or longer to get a copy.
What Kinds of Injuries and Property Damage are Caused by Sideswipe Crashes?
Sideswipe car accidents can lead to minor, medium, and severe injuries or even fatalities. Broken bones are not uncommon, and serious breaks and injuries can take months or longer to heal, meaning you may not be able to return to work or perform daily activities. Others who survive these kinds of crashes end up with painful burns, disfiguring scars, crushed or amputated limbs, spinal cord and back injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. While some are immediately apparent, others do not show up until hours or days after the impact. It is vital that you seek medical attention as soon as possible after a sideswipe accident. Document everything, including the diagnosis, treatment, and expenses.
As for property damage, this also depends on the speed and size of vehicles involved in the sideswipe collision. You will usually see dented passenger-side and driver doors, damaged or lost sideview mirrors, and damaged quarter panels. When sideswipes lead to other crashes like hitting stationary objects and rollovers, the injuries and property damage will be more substantial. Your car could be undriveable for weeks or even be totaled.
What Should I Do After a Sideswipe Accident?
As with any other kind of automobile accident, check to see if you and your passengers are injured first, then call 911. The operator will ask questions and instruct you on what to do next. If the vehicle can be driven, they may tell you to move it off the road onto a safe area and then turn on your hazard lights. If you are able, quickly snap a few photos of the other vehicle, including the license plate, as hit-and-run accidents happen more often then you might think in the state of Georgia.
While waiting for help to arrive, you may want to exchange information with the other driver if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, wait for help to arrive and let them guide you through this process. You will want the other party’s name, address, contact information, and pictures of their driver’s license and auto insurance card. Also remember to contact your insurance company in a timely manner. They will also ask a lot of questions but do your best to only provide factual information. Offering opinions can get you into hot water later; people are usually emotional after car accidents and might say the wrong things. Admitting fault for the accident right after a crash is the wrong move, so if you are feeling jittery, wait awhile before making that call.
The Springfield Car Accident Lawyers from Kicklighter Law are Experienced with Handling Sideswipe Auto Collision Cases
If you were involved in a sideswipe car accident and need trusted legal guidance, the Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law are ready to help. For a free, confidential consultation, call our Springfield, Georgia offices at 912-754-6003 or complete our online form. We proudly serve clients throughout Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.