Sideswipe accident

Who’s At Fault for a Sideswipe Accident?

A sideswipe car accident is an all too common occurrence on our roads. It happens when one vehicle strikes another from the side, often because one car had moved out of the lane when it wasn’t safe to do so.

You might not think that a sideswipe accident is much to worry about. A sideswipe often results in little more than a few scratches or dents — nothing that a car insurance claim can’t fix. However, a high-speed collision on a highway can cause severe injuries and even be fatal. Data from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety shows that 2.7% of all fatal crashes in 2019 were caused by sideswiping.

If you’re in a sideswipe accident, you might be entitled to compensation. However, a successful personal injury claim relies on evidence that another party was liable.

So, who is at fault in a sideswipe accident? We look at how sideswipe accidents typically occur and the determining factors that affect liability.

How Does a Sideswipe Accident Occur?

A sideswipe collision can happen in several ways:

  • Two cars are traveling side by side in the same direction, and one makes an improper turn, such as a right turn into a left lane.
  • Two cars are traveling side by side in the same direction, and one car goes outside of its lane and makes contact with the side of the other vehicle.
  • Two cars are moving in opposite directions, and one drifts over the center line and makes contact with the vehicle in the oncoming lane.

In any case, a sideswipe accident happens when a driver either changes lanes on purpose, drifts into the wrong lane without looking or knowing, or misses an oncoming car due to a blind spot.

How Dangerous Are Sideswipe Accidents?

While there’s no denying that head-on or rear-end collisions can be devastating, vehicles are built to absorb some of the impact and reduce damage. 

Sideswipe accidents can be dangerous precisely because the side of a vehicle offers little protection to passengers and drivers. If you own an older car, the fallout can be particularly horrific, as it may lack side-impact airbags and reinforced steel beams designed to absorb contact.

Common Causes of Sideswipe Car Accidents

Sadly, sideswipe car accidents are some of the most commonly occurring — so it is potentially useful to know the most common causes of this type of road collision, especially when it comes to analyzing who was at fault. There are a few scenarios that lend themselves to a sideswipe car accident that might require gaining compensation; these include the following: 

Improper lane changes:

  • As mentioned above, one of the biggest causes of sideswipe collisions is improper lane changes. This might be due to drivers who don’t signal or who fail to check their blind spots before switching lanes — this can lead to them inadvertently colliding with adjacent vehicles.

Distracted driving:

  • This cause could be true of many types of car accidents, and it can lead to absolutely deadly collisions, and that, distraction. This can come in various forms, from something as simple as texting, a phone conversation, or even adjusting the radio or music on the built-in system. Whatever form they come in, distractions when driving contribute significantly to sideswipe accidents. 

Speeding and reckless driving:

  • Speeding and aggressive driving increase the likelihood of a car accident such as sideswipe collisions. Fast speeds hinder your ability to stop or change direction, making it more difficult for drivers to avoid contact with adjacent vehicles if needed.

Driving Under the Influence:

  • Driving when in an “impaired” state, such as after consuming alcohol or drugs, significantly affects a driver’s ability to drive safely. Impaired drivers may exhibit erratic behaviors and a loss of control, leading to an increased risk of sideswipe collisions.

Driver fatigue:

  • Much like driving when distracted, speeding, or under the influence, driving when tired is another major cause of car accidents, such as sideswipes. This is another instance where reaction times are delayed, leading to a plethora of on-road issues, not least of all impairing judgment, which is imperative for safe driving. 

These are exactly the sort of circumstances and facts that need to be properly documented to be able to present a well-rounded case in the instance of needing to claim compensation for a sideswipe car accident. As said above, enlisting the help of a professional personal injury lawyer will help tremendously when it comes to knowing precisely how to garner the salient information to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. 

Who Is at Fault in a Sideswipe Car Accident?

Determining who’s at fault in a sideswipe accident can be murky because, in some cases, it’s hard to show which car departed its lane and struck the other. These accidents are more complex compared to other side-impact accidents like a T-bone, where the driver who crashes into the side of the other car is nearly always liable.

South Carolina fault rules state that the driver who caused the crash should be held responsible for paying the necessary damages. In some cases, one driver will be fully responsible for the crash. In others, the fault may be split if both parties are found negligent to some degree, or neither driver may be at fault. For example, if a driver sideswiped your vehicle because their brakes failed, the car manufacturer could be held liable.

Determining Fault in a Sideswipe Accident

Several elements help determine who is at fault for a sideswipe car accident.

Driver error is the leading cause of all car accidents — including sideswipe accidents. Often, a driver’s reckless behavior leads to these preventable accidents happening. 

Common examples of recklessness include:

  • Driving while tired or intoxicated
  • Failing to check their blind spots when changing lanes
  • Failing to signal when turning
  • Driving while distracted, such as texting, changing the radio station, or talking on the phone
  • Road rage or aggressiveness can lead to a driver hastily — or purposely — turning in.

Suppose the other driver was intoxicated or driving aggressively during the contact, and you have evidence — such as a police crash report or eyewitness testimony — to prove it. In that case, you stand a good chance at proving they were liable.

What to Do After a Sideswipe Accident

Finding out what led to your sideswipe accident is essential, as this is key to proving who is at fault. You’ll also need evidence to back up your claim. After all, not all drivers are honest, and the person who sideswiped you may not want to admit fault, even if it’s clear they were in the wrong.

Call the police as soon as you have gathered yourself following the collision. Once present, an investigating officer will create a crash report documenting what happened and any contributing factors — such as if the other driver acted recklessly.

It’s also valuable to gather evidence at the scene. This can make a major difference in validating your claim to the necessary authorities. Take photos to capture the damage to the vehicles. These pictures can tell the direction of impact, proving who moved unsafely into whose lane during the collision. Your photos could also reveal indicators that allow an accident reconstruction expert to conclude who was at fault. Once you’ve obtained picture and video evidence, get any eyewitnesses’ names, addresses, and phone numbers.  

Even if you physically feel fine, it’s vital to see a doctor as soon as possible after your sideswipe accident. Not only is it crucial to make sure you don’t have a concussion or any other health concerns, but your medical records will also prove your injuries should you want to pursue a compensation claim. If you’re worried about seeking medical attention because you can’t afford medical bills, speak to a car accident lawyer — they may be able to postpone payment until after your claim is resolved.

Legal Recourse in South Carolina: Sideswipe Accident Cases

We all know that each state has different laws when it comes to car accident laws — so let’s explore one option for those looking for an in-depth and nuanced understanding of sideswipe car accidents that happen in South Carolina. 

This state’s legal landscape has its own set of laws, and a sideswipe collision is no exception. Let’s look at what this type of car accident in South Carolina could entail.

Jurisdiction-Specific Aspects of a Sideswipe Accident in South Carolina

South Carolina law works under a modified comparative negligence system, where the injured party’s compensation may be reduced based on their percentage of fault. In sideswipe accidents, establishing liability requires a close analysis of traffic laws, witness statements, and potentially even accident reconstruction.

This means that South Carolina does not have the “no-fault” law.  

Additionally, South Carolina’s statute of limitations imposes a time limit on filing personal injury claims, which means prompt legal action is essential. Victims of sideswipe accidents must proceed within these deadlines to act on their right to seek compensation.

What Does the Comparative Negligence System Mean for Car Accident Victims?

As we’ve discussed, states such as South Carolina operate under a comparative negligence system. This means that you can proceed with legal action in a sidesweep or broader car accident as long as 51 percent of the fault lies in the hands of the other party. In other words, as long as less than half of the blame lies at your feet, and the third party is mostly at fault, you may have a claim for compensation. As always, we suggest seeking legal counsel in the form of a personal injury attorney. 

Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney in South Carolina

With these elements in mind — evidence gathering, the comparative negligence system, and the important timeframes — it’s important to note that, whichever your state, if you’ve been affected by a sideswipe or other car accident, gaining legal representation from a personal injury attorney who has a strong grasp on the intricacies of each state’s laws, undoubtedly increases your chances of getting the compensation you deserve

Get a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Sideswipe Accident

The final step is to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim, speak to witnesses, and negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to secure a fair settlement, leaving you to focus on your recovery.

A sideswipe accident can be messy and stressful, but you don’t have to endure it alone. Our car accident lawyers in South Carolina can help you get the compensation you deserve so that you can move forward.

Negotiating Settlements for Sideswipe Collision Injuries

Much like knowing the differences in law across different states, there is a lot to know about negotiating a successful insurance settlement for a sideswipe car accident that caused injuries — that’s why you should consider getting in touch with a personal injury attorney. They can guide you on how exactly to traverse the world of insurance offers and make sure you get a figure you are happy with. 

Taking into consideration things such as medical bills, loss of earnings, and long-term effects, this is the safest option for negotiating a settlement for a sideswipe car accident injury; a personal injury attorney will use their in-depth knowledge to navigate the complexities of this legal quagmire and get the compensation you deserve. 

Contact The Clardy Law Firm For Your Free, No-Obligation Case Evaluation


If you or a loved one was injured in South Carolina, we offer a free, no-obligation case review so you can see how we can help.

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