When you hear someone was involved in a car accident, it’s natural to think of a head-on crash or a rear-end collision. Or maybe you think of the front of one car striking the side of another car in a T-bone collision. The truth though is that many car crashes include cars getting so close to each other that the sides of each car collide.
When cars are traveling in the same direction, the driver side of one car and the passenger side of a second car may collide. When cars are traveling in opposite directions, the driver sides of each car may collide. The passenger sides of each car can collide too.
Sometimes, sideswipe crashes can cause one or both cars to spin around, striking other vehicles, median strips, or causing cars to veer off the side of the road into a ditch.
These are called sideswipe, or clipping, accidents. They can be very dangerous, especially when cars are moving quickly.
How do sideswipe crashes occur?
Cars can strike the sides of each other in the following ways:
- One driver attempts to pass or to change lanes. Sideswipe crashes can occur because the driver that shifts lanes doesn’t have enough room, doesn’t leave enough room, or the driver traveling in the same lane veers away from the center of his/her lane.
- A car merges into traffic. Here, the car that merges into traffic generally has the responsibility to ensure he/she has enough room to safely merge. The merge accident may happen because another driver refuses to let the driver merge. The accident may occur because other cars are merging from other lanes. Merging accidents can happen at on-ramps, off-ramps, when lanes narrow due to construction, or for other reasons.
- Intersection accidents. Sideswipes occur at intersections for a variety of different reasons depending on the number of lanes and whether there are right-turn-on-red lanes. For example, a traveler in a vertical lane may turn into a horizontal lane – but doesn’t realize another car is coming.
- Attempting to avoid a head-on crash. If you see another car coming towards you, you might veer into another lane to avoid being struck.
- Loss of control of a vehicle. Drivers should generally stay in the middle of their lane. If a driver is distracted, tired, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver may shift into another lane. Rain, snow, and other poor weather conditions can also cause a driver to lose control of his/her car. In some cases, a defective car part – like a tire failure, steering failure, or brake failure – can lead to a sideswipe collision.
Sideswipe accidents can also happen if a driver:
- Fails to yield the right of way
- Takes a turn too quickly
- Doesn’t check his/her blind spots
- Drives too closely to cars that are parked on the side of the road
Who is liable for a sideswipe accident?
Generally, one driver is liable for a sideswipe crash. If the car the driver was operating was owned by someone other than the driver, the owner may also be liable. In some cases, the Tennessee Department of Transportation may be liable. A tavern or hotel that sold alcohol to a driver who was visibly intoxicated at the time of the sale may also be liable if the consumption of alcohol caused the crash.
Our Memphis car accident lawyers work with investigators to determine how the accident happened. Some of the factors that determine fault include:
- Where the damage to the cars is
- The layout of the roads
- What the parties and witnesses say happened
- The investigation of the scene by the police
- The driver’s conduct immediately before the crash
- Many other factors
What injuries do sideswipe accidents cause?
Sideswipe car accidents can cause serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Back injuries that can become chronic
- Unbearable neck pain
- Nerve damage
- Soft tissue and muscle injuries
- Seatbelt injuries
- Eye and facial injuries
- Cuts and bruises
- Loss of arms, legs
- Damage to your internal injuries
In the most tragic cases, a driver or passenger dies as a result of a sideswipe crash. In these tragic cases, we file wrongful death claims on behalf of the family against the responsible parties.
Why do sideswipe crashes cause so many serious injuries?
Airbags tend to work better for head-on crashes than sideswipes. The doors of a car don’t offer as much protection as the hood or trunk of a car. Frames of the sides of cars can easily bend and break. While many injuries do heal with extensive treatment, some sideswipe injury victims become disabled. Many victims live with a lifetime of pain.
What damages are available in clipping accidents?
We demand compensation for all your economic and personal losses. Our Memphis lawyers work with the insurance adjusters for the defendants and your insurance company if there is a UM/UIM claim. We’re also fully prepared to try your case before a jury of your peers. Your damages may include:
- Your medical costs including surgeries, doctor visits, rehabilitation, medications, and other medical expenses
- Your loss of income, past and future
- Your physical pain and emotional suffering
- Compensation for any scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of consortium for you and your spouse
- The damage to your car and other property losses
Are there ways to reduce the risk of sideswipe accidents?
Newer vehicles are being built with driver assistance technology that helps keep your car in your lane and communicate with you (or takes control of your car) when necessary. If you drive an older car, however, you can reduce your risk of a sideswipe crash by:
- Driving in the center of your lane
- Making sure you have enough room to pass or merge
- Communicating with other drivers through turn signals and, when possible, eye contact or hand signals
- Getting off the road if you feel tired or fatigued
- Checking your blind spots while you drive and when you attempt to change lanes
- Slowing down in bad weather and when navigating a turn
Proving fault in a sideswipe crash is complicated because, on first blush, both drivers may appear to be responsible. At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our car accident lawyers have a strong track record of successfully settling and trying personal injury cases. We work aggressively to hold responsible drivers and other responsible parties accountable for all the ways the accidents change your life. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our Memphis or Jackson office call 901-475-7434, or use our firm’s contact page to tell us your story.
As founder of Bailey & Greer, R. Sadler Bailey has battled his fair share of insurance giants and wrongdoers and has achieved numerous multimillion-dollar results for the victims of catastrophic injuries and their families. What’s more, he has been involved in more than 40 appellate court decisions affecting Tennessee personal injury law, including many landmark appearances before the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Read more about R. Sadler Bailey