Who’s At Fault for a Sideswipe Accident?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
After experiencing a crash, you may wonder, “who’s at fault for a sideswipe accident?” Sideswipe accidents are common, with 11.8% of all crashes in the United States involving this type of collision. Property damage and severe injuries can happen in sideswipe accidents, resulting in high medical costs and damages for crash victims.
If you are involved in a sideswipe accident, you can seek compensation for your injuries under Michigan insurance laws. Working with an auto accident attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associations, P.C. can help you understand who is liable for your accident and file a claim for damages.
Who is Responsible for a Sideswipe Crash?
Sideswipe accidents occur when one vehicle runs into another while driving alongside it. This type of accident can be caused by drivers failing to check blind spots, driving under the influence, or changing lanes illegally.
When determining who’s at fault for a sideswipe accident, the insurance companies and your attorney will investigate the circumstances of the crash to look for signs of the following:
Drivers talking with other passengers, adjusting the radio, or using their cell phones are not paying attention to their surroundings. This behavior can cause them to drift into another lane or fail to check a blind spot when changing lanes, causing them to collide with another vehicle. In Michigan, for example, it is illegal to text while driving. A driver on their cell phone when the accident occurred could share greater liability for the accident.
Failure to Maintain Lane Position
Michigan requires all vehicles to stay in a single lane within two or more marked lanes on a highway. Drivers can only leave their lanes once they ensure they can move safely into another lane. A driver who fails to maintain their lane position and doesn’t look before changing lanes can cause a sideswipe crash with another vehicle.
Illegal Lane Changes or Improper Merging
Illegal lane changes or improper merging can cause a sideswipe accident by violating laws and regulations related to lane driving and changing. For example, Michigan drivers must use the extreme right-hand lane on the road with two or more lanes, except when passing or making a left turn.
If a driver fails to follow this rule and attempts to change lanes unsafely or illegally, they can collide with a vehicle in the adjacent lane, causing a sideswipe accident.
Road rage behaviors like excessive speeding, tailgating, or cutting off other drivers can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, limiting their ability to respond to changing road conditions. They might not slow down or stop in time to avoid a collision, especially if they encounter unexpected hazards, such as a sudden change in traffic flow.
Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol experience impairment regarding judgment and reaction time. They may struggle to maintain their lane position and accurately judge distances between their vehicle and other cars.
Alcohol and drugs can also interfere with coordination and cause loss of control, making a driver less likely to operate their vehicle safely and increasing the risk of a sideswipe accident.
Can Both Drivers Be at Fault for a Sideswipe Accident in Michigan?
Drivers can share fault for a sideswipe accident in Michigan. The state uses modified comparative negligence which allows you to recover compensation if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. If an insurer finds you are more than 50% liable for your injuries, you lose your right to a settlement.
For example, you may be partially at fault if you and another driver are speeding and their vehicle sideswipes yours. Your attorney can submit evidence that the other driver was also distracted, which may lower your responsibility in the crash. If the insurer finds you 30% liable, you can win a damage award; however, your settlement will be reduced by this amount.
How to Prove Liability in a Sideswipe Collision
Proving liability is essential to recovering non-economic damages and ensuring the responsible party is accountable for their actions. However, demonstrating negligence in a sideswipe accident can be difficult, especially with no clear witnesses or evidence.
Following certain steps can help strengthen your case and increase your chances of financial compensation for damages and injuries.
Call the Police
Call 911 and ask for police assistance and emergency services immediately after the crash. The police will interview all involved parties and note their opinion on who’s at fault for a sideswipe accident when creating an accident report. When talking with the police, stick to the accident details without admitting guilt or accusing the other driver.
An emergency medical technician (EMT) can check if you’re okay and evaluate you for injuries such as organ damage or fractures. EMTs may recommend you go to the hospital if they think diagnostic imaging or an examination in the emergency room could diagnose your injury.
Schedule a Medical Appointment with a Doctor
Although you may feel fine right after the collision, some symptoms, such as shoulder pain or muscle stiffness, may not appear for hours or days. Additionally, serious injuries like TBIs or whiplash can take time to show symptoms.
See your healthcare provider as soon as possible after your accident. They can document injuries or symptoms you’re experiencing, perform testing, and create a treatment plan to get the care you need. These records can also help your attorney demonstrate your injuries to the insurance company and prove they happened during the crash.
Take Pictures and Videos of the Accident Scene
Photographs and videos of the area around you can help insurers and your lawyer determine the extent of the damage and how the accident occurred. These pictures can include all the cars incurred and the location of the accident.
If you notice nearby businesses with security cameras, take pictures of them. Your lawyer can request security footage from the business owners to support your car accident claim.
Get the Contact information of All Witnesses
Ask pedestrians and drivers who witnessed the accident to provide a statement, recording their testimonies with a cellphone or on paper. Encourage them to give as much detail as possible about what they saw, such as car positions and contributing factors.
If they’re unwilling to give a statement, ask if they can share their name, address, and phone number so your attorney can contact them later. Your lawyer will reach out when investigating the accident to obtain their account for the incident.
Seek Legal Guidance
An experienced personal injury lawyer from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can review medical records, accident reports, photos, and videos of the crash to provide a clear picture of the case for insurers.
They can use this information to determine fault in the accident and protect your rights to compensation. For instance, if the police report states the other driver was texting while driving at the time of the accident, your lawyer may need to subpoena their cell phone records to verify it.
Our lawyers will help you file for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. They can also file a third-party tort claim if your injuries result in serious impairment of bodily function, such as a dismemberment or spinal cord injury.
Your attorney can estimate accurate economic and non-economic damages, such as hospital bills, lost earnings, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. This ensures you don’t accept a settlement offer below your accident-related expenses.
Get an Experienced Car Accident Attorney After a Sideswipe Crash
After experiencing a sideswipe accident, a personal injury lawyer from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you get the compensation you deserve. If you are questioning who is at fault, we can evaluate the evidence to determine liability for your crash and take legal action against the driver who is at fault for a sideswipe accident.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.