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In January of last year, two people were killed in a Waterbury car accident as a result of a sideswipe accident. An SUV livery service car and another vehicle were both traveling southbound on Route 69 in a spot where two lanes become one. The SUV attempted to take over the lane, sideswiped the other vehicle, and veered off into the northbound lane where it struck another car. The livery driver was killed instantly, his passenger died after arriving at the hospital, and several others were injured as a result of the horrifying accident.
Defining Sideswipe Accidents
Sideswipes are one of the most deadly types of traffic accidents on the road, causing over 2,500 fatalities and an estimated 27,000 injuries every year according to the National Safety Council (NSC). A sideswipe is defined as an accident that occurs when two cars driving parallel to each other on the road meet, but they can also occur when two cars are driving in opposite directions in parallel lanes. When cars collide from the side, both drivers can experience an instant loss of control, creating a highly dangerous situation on busy roads and at fast speeds.
There are a number of ways a sideswipe accident can transpire:
- Improper lane changing.
- Cars drifting into the lanes next to them on either side.
- Drivers over or under-steering vehicles.
Accidents caused by sideswipes are deadly for vehicles of any size and can lead to secondary accidents such as head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, and rollovers.
Most Common Causes of Sideswipes
Several factors can contribute to the occurrence of a fatal sideswipe accident. While popular accidents in the media are caused by drivers fleeing the scene of a crime, most are the result of the following:
Driver Fatigue: Tired drivers can nod off and unknowingly drift into other lanes where vehicles are directly next to them.
Drunk Driving: Drunk drivers are visually and mentally impaired, and may swerve around in their lane or fall asleep, veering off into other vehicles.
Distracted Driving: Drivers who are on their phones or reaching back/down for items may neglect to look while changing lanes or accidentally turn the wheel causing their car to drift.
Blind Lane Changes: Drivers who change lanes without looking may not see cars directly next to them or coming up next to them at a faster speed.
Blind Merging: Drivers can easily sideswipe cars when merging onto the highway or exit/entrance ramps if they aren’t paying attention to their mirrors.
Neglecting Blind Spots: Motorists who check their mirrors but neglect to check their blind spot may miss a car in the next lane.
Overreactive Driving: Drivers who instantly swerve or panic when they see a road hazard may collide with cars in parallel lanes who aren’t expecting that reaction.
Most Common Sideswipe Injuries
It doesn’t take much to sustain an injury when a vehicle is struck from the side. Serious injuries can occur even at low speeds to several different parts of the body in the case of a side impact collision, including:
- upper arm
These types of injuries are a result of your body’s impact with the side door panel, windows, armrests, and other parts of the car in the area of the accident. While some of these injuries are minor lacerations or fractures, other side impact injuries can be life-threatening to the brain, muscles, bones, and internal organs resulting in years of recovery or even permanent disabilities.
Who’s Liable for Sideswipes
Connecticut is an ‘at fault’ state when it comes to car insurance, meaning the driver who caused the accident is financially responsible for the damages caused. However, proving who is at fault in a sideswipe accident is not always easily determined. If one driver was clearly impaired or fleeing police, fault can be easily placed. But in other cases, liability is often determined based on the vehicles after the fact: where did the vehicles end up on the road, where is the impact damage on each vehicle, which direction where the vehicles traveling, where does it appear they were traveling based on the road marks.
Witnesses and other motorists on the road are often called in to determine fault in sideswipe accidents where liability is up in the air. If other motorists near the vehicles that crashed or pedestrians on the street saw one driver on the phone or witnessed a car do a lane change without a turn signal, these statements will be used to ultimately decide who is at fault and who was the victim in the accident.
Motorists who sustain injuries in a sideswipe accident due to someone else’s negligence will need to prove the other party failed to act with reasonable care on the road. Victims of unnecessary sideswipe accidents can help their case by gathering evidence directly after an accident in the case that the negligent driver disputes fault for the incident. Some preparation steps you can take for your case include:
- Photographs: Take pictures of the accident scene and damage to your vehicle
- Reports: Keep copies of any police reports filed for the accident, tickets cited, witness statements, and medical records pertaining to the crash.
- Receipts: Keep any receipts for payments you made out of pocket for car services, transportation services, or medical bills resulting from the accident.
- Self Testimony: Write down in your own word what happened during the accident.
No Connecticut driver should be forced to pay for medical treatment and vehicle maintenance when someone else is at fault for their damages and injuries. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury due to a vehicle accident, contact our winning team for a free consultation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Jacobs & Wallace have over 40 years of experience fighting back against negligent drivers- we are here to fight for you.