The Serious Injuries That Come From Sideswipe Collisions

Posted on May 22, 2023

When two vehicles traveling in the same direction accidentally make contact by hitting or scraping along the sides of the vehicles, the impact is a sideswipe collision. Sideswipe collisions often happen due to unsafe lane changes on major, multi-lane highways or while passing on rural roads. All sideswipe collisions can cause injuries, but when two vehicles are traveling at high speeds, this type of accident is especially dangerous. 

Though we tend to think of accidents as head-on collisions or rear-end accidents, more than 240,000 sideswipe collisions occur annually in the United States, causing substantial property damage and many serious injuries as well as around 2,500 fatalities.

Injuries From Sideswipe Accidents

It may seem that the glancing blow of a sideswipe would cause mainly property damage to a vehicle, but the fact that the initial impact often causes secondary accidents such as rollovers or head-on collisions by forcing one or both drivers to lose control of their vehicle means these accidents often cause serious or grave injuries such as:

Injuries from sideswipe accidents can be devastating to accident victims, both physically and financially. In some cases, they may result in wrongful death claims.

Causes of Sideswipe Accidents

While poorly maintained roadways and failed traffic signals sometimes contribute to some types of accidents, driver error is by far the leading cause of traffic accidents—especially sideswipe accidents. The following are the main causes of sideswipe accidents in the United States:

  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Unsafe merging or failing to yield the right of way
  • Drifting caused by distracted or drowsy driving
  • Abrupt swerving due to an animal or debris in the road
  • Attempting to pass on a narrow road
  • Aggressive driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances 

The fact that sideswipe accidents commonly occur with drivers traveling at full speed means that the injuries from these accidents are often serious or even catastrophic.

Liability and Damages in Sideswipe Accidents

Drivers have a duty to avoid distractions, follow traffic laws, and take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of others on the road, including when passing, merging, and making lane changes. If a driver causes a sideswipe accident through negligent or reckless driving, they’ve breached this duty of care. If the result of the breach is an accident with injuries, the at-fault driver is responsible for damages, usually paid out through their insurance policy. Damages from a sideswipe accident often include:

  • Property damage
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages 
  • Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages like trauma, disfigurement, and loss of pleasure in life

If someone else caused a preventable accident, and you sustained serious injuries and financial damages, the court’s way of redressing this wrong is through a personal injury claim or lawsuit for compensation.