Sideswipe accidents occur when one car swipes another in the side rather than causing a direct collision.

A sideswipe accident often means that one vehicle scrapes the side of the other. Sideswipe accidents can result in devastating injuries, particularly for passengers on the side of the vehicle hit in the accident. They may also cause serious injuries when the swipe sends the vehicle spinning into the next traffic lane, creating the potential for further collisions. A car accident lawyer can help you with the compensation you should expect.

Common Causes of Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe accidents may occur for several reasons. The heavy traffic on I-5 or State Route 94 can further increase the risk of sideswipe collisions.

1. Merging Incidents

Trying to merge onto a fast-moving highway or interstate, including I-5, can prove very difficult for some drivers, particularly if they do not adequately gauge the distance between their vehicle and the next one.

Often, drivers will attempt to move over too soon. Worse, they may run up on the merge point, only to realize that they do not have adequate room to complete the maneuver. A sideswipe collision may result when the driver tries to force the vehicle over into traffic despite not having adequate room or when the driver does not correctly judge the distance needed to merge safely.

Sideswipe collisions may also occur when the driver already in the lane of traffic attempts to close the gap rather than allowing the driver merging into the space room to get over. Those drivers may attempt to force the merging driver off the road or refuse to share the road safely, raising the risk of a collision.

2. Lane Changes

Lane changes can also pose a potential risk of a sideswipe collision, especially in busy areas like Interstate 405. Drivers may need to look carefully before completing a lane change. Unfortunately, some drivers struggle to figure out how much room they need to change lanes safely. In other cases, drivers may try to force their vehicles over instead of waiting until they have enough room.

Sideswipe collisions may occur more frequently when large vehicles attempt to merge over small ones. Often, larger vehicles cannot see those smaller vehicles beside them. Large blind spots, particularly in big trucks, can significantly increase the risk that the driver will not see another vehicle when the time comes to merge. Large vehicles, in general, may prove more difficult to maneuver when changing lanes, raising the risk of a collision.

3. Distracted Drivers

Driver distraction can cause a sideswipe collision in the San Diego area in the blink of an eye.

Distraction can involve many potentially risky behaviors when the driver should focus on the road:

  • Eating and drinking.
  • Checking a cell phone.
  • Even attempting to deal with a child in the back seat.

Distracted drivers may take their hands, eyes, or attention away from the task of driving. As a result, drivers may not realize that the vehicle has drifted out of its assigned traffic lane. That distraction may then result in a sideswipe collision. Sideswipe collisions may also occur with cyclists throughout San Diego due to the city’s heavy biking population.

4. Speeding

High speeds demand considerably more focus and concentration for drivers to keep driving safely down the road. As drivers’ speed increases, so does the risk of a dangerous collision. Drivers often struggle to control their vehicles safely at high rates of speed. They may struggle to keep up with the natural turns in the road. Drivers may also have difficulty changing lanes safely when traveling above the speed limit.

Drivers may choose to speed for various reasons, despite knowing the potential dangers. Some drivers choose to speed because they enjoy the rush and want to push for new adrenaline highs, which may cause them to travel at ever higher rates of speed despite the potential dangers.

The hilly streets of San Diego may increase this thrill for some drivers. Others may simply feel that they have a higher level of competence than the average driver, which, in their minds, means that the speed limit does not necessarily apply to them. Speeding drivers not only have a greater risk of causing a sideswipe collision but may also cause more damage due to the increased force associated with the accident.

5. Inebriation

Drunk driving brings with it several dangers. Drunk drivers often have tunnel vision, which means they may have difficulty keeping up with movement on the road around them. Furthermore, drunk drivers often struggle with the reflexes necessary to safely control the vehicle.

They may have difficulty keeping the vehicle in its assigned lane and avoiding the potential for an accident. Often, drunk drivers lose their motor control, so they have a hard time dealing with the challenges associated with driving a vehicle. San Diego has seen an increase in drunk driving incidents in recent years.

6. Aggressive Driving

Many aggressive drivers engage in behaviors that can increase the risk of a sideswipe collision. Aggressive drivers often swerve dangerously in and out of traffic, ignoring the presence of others around them. Those aggressive drivers may try to fit into too-tight spaces or change lanes abruptly as they try to weave down the road. Because they do not pay attention when changing lanes, aggressive drivers may have a greater risk of causing a sideswipe collision.

7. Road Rage

Raging drivers may have a higher risk of causing many types of accidents, including sideswipe collisions. Sometimes, raging drivers cause accidents because they lose control and do not take adequate precautions as they travel. Other times, however, those accidents may occur because the driver deliberately rams into another vehicle. Some raging drivers may try to force another vehicle off the road, including deliberately causing a sideswipe collision to try to push the driver into oncoming traffic or off of the road.

Road rage can prove particularly devastating because the raging driver may take no steps to decrease the impact of the collision. If both drivers involved in the collision engage in road rage, it can further increase the devastation caused by the accident.

8. Drowsiness

Driving while drowsy can cause a number of potential problems. Drowsy drivers may show some of the same symptoms as drunk drivers, including problems like tunnel vision or difficulty keeping a car safely on the road. Furthermore, drowsy drivers may simply fall asleep behind the wheel. When a driver falls asleep while driving, the vehicle has no one controlling it.

Even microsleeps, which may last for just seconds, can increase the risk of a sideswipe accident as the driver slips into another lane, potentially including oncoming traffic. Other drivers may fall asleep for much longer, which means that the vehicle will not stop until it hits something. Sleeping drivers may wake abruptly with no idea what has happened, causing them to overreact or even turn the vehicle back dramatically in the other direction, causing further personal injuries in damage.

9. Sharp Turns

Many drivers struggle to keep their vehicles in the proper lane while negotiating sharp turns or curvy roads, including the twists and turns common throughout much of the San Diego area. Dealing with mountainous terrain can make those challenges particularly difficult since drivers may need to complete multiple sharp turns on relatively tight roads.

Unfortunately, that can increase the odds that drivers will slip into another traffic lane. Drivers may also cause a sideswipe collision if they turn too far to get through a turn correctly or turn back too abruptly, causing the vehicle to jerk out of its assigned traffic lane. Drivers unfamiliar with those roads may have greater odds of causing a sideswipe collision.

After a Sideswipe Collision: What to Do Next

A sideswipe collision can take you completely by surprise. You may not have had any chance to see it coming, especially if your sideswipe collision occurred because the other driver grew briefly distracted or fell asleep unexpectedly behind the wheel. You reported the accident to the police and headed to the hospital for any needed medical care. What comes next?

1. Call a Lawyer as Soon as You Can.

A sideswipe collision claim can, in some cases, prove complicated. Sometimes, you have clear evidence that the other driver caused the accident. You may have photos from the accident scene showing that the other driver crossed the centerline, or a police report that notes the driver’s distraction, intoxication, or even drowsiness.

However, in other cases, that sideswipe collision claim can be more difficult than anticipated. You may find that the liable driver does not accept liability for the accident, which may mean that you have to fight to get the compensation you deserve.

A lawyer can help with all those vital tasks. Not only can a lawyer help collect any evidence related to your accident, but a lawyer can also, if necessary, bring in an expert witness to review the damage to the two vehicles and give a better idea of what likely contributed to the accident. Furthermore, a personal injury lawyer can ensure that you understand your rights and can fight to help you get much-needed compensation for the injuries from your accident.

2. Avoid Talking to the Insurance Company on Your Own.

Sometimes, you may hear from the insurance company that covers the liable driver soon after your accident. The company may issue an offer that sounds ideal on the surface. You know that you have medical bills adding up, repairs to your vehicle to take care of, and all the other expenses that go along with a car accident to contend with. You do not want to wait to get the compensation you deserve.

However, insurance companies often use that tactic to talk injured parties into accepting personal injury settlement offers that do not reflect the compensation they deserve. That early settlement offer may not include compensation for the expenses you will face over time, including the long-term cost of medical care for any injuries you may have sustained in the accident.

Before you accept any settlement, have a car accident lawyer review both the offer and the extent of your injuries to give you a better idea of what you should expect as you move forward.

3. Record Your Memory of the Accident.

Trauma can cause your memory of a sideswipe collision to fade very quickly. Later, you may have a very hard time remembering what exactly happened. Work with your lawyer to detail everything you can remember about the accident, including anything you may recall about the driver’s behavior before the incident and anything that may have contributed to the accident. Your lawyer can then help collect further evidence.

4. Document Your Medical Costs and Your Recovery.

When you file an injury claim after a sideswipe collision, you have the right to include the costs you have faced because of the accident and your injuries. However, many accident victims have difficulty gathering all their medical bills together.

You may, for example, forget about the multiple bills you received for some procedures or fail to break down all the copays and deductibles you may have had to pay at the time of service. To help make it easier to put together your claim, try to keep track of all medical bills throughout your recovery.

In addition, start a journal or other record of the challenges you may face as you recover from your injuries. Document your losses, struggles, and setbacks along the road to recovery. Write about the physical challenges you may face or your medical needs and procedures and the emotional losses and challenges that frequently accompany severe injuries. Your lawyer can help you use that documentation to comprehensively understand the suffering you faced after your accident.

Did You Suffer Injuries in a Sideswipe Collision in San Diego?

A sideswipe collision can result in devastating injuries, especially for the person on the side of the vehicle where the collision occurred. If you suffered injuries in a sideswipe collision, contact a personal injury lawyer who can give you a better idea of what compensation you should expect and can pursue it for you after your accident.

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