A sideswipe accident involves the side of one vehicle striking the side of another vehicle in the lane next to it. This may involve an improper lane change or merge, or it may involve weaving within a lane. A sideswipe impact may be less forceful than head-on, rear-end, or side-impact collisions, but sideswipe accidents may be serious when large trucks are involved. The weight of a truck may cause serious damage to the side of a car, which often offers less protection than the front and the rear. In some crashes, the force of the impact may push the car into other vehicles or objects, or it may cause a rollover by pushing the car off the road entirely.
While each case is unique, sideswipe accidents generally result from errors by truck drivers. Perhaps the most common cause involves a failure to check mirrors or blind spots, which may prevent a truck driver from seeing a car next to them. Other factors that may cause or contribute to a sideswipe accident include:
Less often, a problem with the wheels, tires, or other components of a truck may contribute to a sideswipe accident. This may mean that a truck manufacturer bears at least part of the blame.
Pursuing Damages for Sideswipe Accidents
Even if the initial impact does not cause serious injuries, occupants of a sideswiped car may suffer devastating harm if the sideswipe causes a rollover or a chain reaction crash involving multiple vehicles. They may suffer from spinal cord injuries, brain trauma, and other debilitating conditions that permanently affect their quality of life. A victim can file a lawsuit for compensation against the truck driver, the trucking company, and any other person or entity that was at fault.
Common Types of Compensation for Truck Accidents
Economic damages: medical bills, future treatment costs, lost income, lost earning capacity, property damage
Non-economic damages: pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost enjoyment of life
Proving liability for a truck accident usually involves showing that the defendant was negligent. This means that they failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances. If a truck driver violated a law or regulation governing the trucking industry, this will strongly support a finding that they failed to use reasonable care. (In some states, this finding may be automatic under the traditional form of the “negligence per se” doctrine.) However, complying with all applicable rules does not necessarily mean that the driver used reasonable care. This inquiry is highly fact-specific and requires a careful examination of the events leading to the crash. Evidence of liability may include a police report, photos, eyewitness testimony, and “black box” data from the truck.
Like other personal injury cases, a truck accident lawsuit involving a sideswipe crash must be filed within the statute of limitations. This is a time window imposed by each state, which usually starts to run when an accident occurs. Even if a victim can prove liability, they probably will not recover damages if they file their case after the statute of limitations has expired. This makes it critical to consult a truck accident lawyer promptly. These attorneys usually offer free consultations, at which they can discuss the strength and value of a claim. If a victim chooses to move forward, they likely will not need to pay attorney fees unless they recover a settlement or judgment.