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Sideswipe Accident | Steps to Take After Being Sideswiped 

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 7 minutes

Sideswipe Accident | Steps to Take After Being Sideswiped 

If you’ve been in a sideswipe accident, you might be considering legal action. After all, sideswipe accidents can be quite dangerous, as the offending vehicle can cause direct damage to the person in the seat closest to impact. The impact itself can also veer your own vehicle off-course, or even flip it over. 

Naturally, sideswipe impacts contribute to serious and often fatal injuries. We encourage you to contact us if you’ve been in a sideswipe accident, as it’s important that you speak to an attorney about your claims. Call us at 1-800-THE-LAW2 to speak to an experienced car crash attorney for guidance. That being said, read on to learn more about sideswipe collisions and how they work. 

Questions and Topics this article can help you to answer: How is fault determined in a sideswipe accident? | Can you get whiplash from a sideswipe collision? | What are leading causes of sideswipe car accidents? | What do I do if my car gets sideswiped? | How do I find a sideswipe accident lawyer near me?

How is Fault Determined in a Sideswipe Accident? 

Fault is determined by evaluating what is known as the chain of causation. The chain of causation is an unbroken sequence of events leading to the accident. For example, suppose that you are sideswiped by a car and get injured. 

You might think that the other driver is at fault for the accident. However, your attorney investigates and discovers that the other driver was actually pushed into your car by another car, that rear-ended him. This forced the sideswipe to occur. Under these circumstances, fault would be linked to the driver who rear-ended the other driver. 

Can You Get Whiplash from a Sideswipe? 

Yes, absolutely. It’s quite common for the victims in a sideswipe collision to suffer whiplash injuries. Sideswipe collision victims often sustain two sets of injuries, from the initial impact and from subsequent impacts. The sudden shifts in direction due to multiple impacts can cause severe whiplash. 

Other possibilities for physical trauma include:  

  • Head trauma 
  • Spinal cord trauma, including bulging discs and paralysis 
  • Burn injuries 
  • Internal bleeding 
  • Bone fractures 
  • Organ damage 
  • Neck and shoulder injuries 
  • Punctures 
  • Lacerations 
  • And more 

What are Common Causes of Sideswipe Collisions? 

There are a variety of factors that contribute to sideswipe accidents. In nearly every situation, the accident could have been prevented. Prevention means paying attention to the road at all times, and avoiding any unnecessary distractions. Take a cautious approach. Give space to other vehicles, even if you have right-of-way.

The most common factors influencing sideswipe collisions include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Aggressive driving
  • And more.

4 Leading Causes of Sideswipe Car Accidents

These factors simply contribute to the risk, however. Sideswipe accidents actually occur due to the following failures:

  • Merging
  • Speeding
  • Changing Lanes
  • Road Rage


Say a driver is merging onto the highway from an off-ramp but fails to gauge the distance between themselves and other cars correctly. This driver tries to get into the nearest lane of traffic quickly, causing them to sideswipe another car. Merging can also be a danger when merging from rest. Sideswipe parked car accidents are very common, as drivers are often not fully attentive when they get back into their car. 


Perhaps a driver speeds because they are under the influence of a controlled substance or because they are late to a meeting and trying to make up time. As they navigate between cars, the driver can accidentally drive over their lane’s lines and sideswipe one or several vehicles. Trying to speed around sharp curves can also cause sideswipe issues.  

Changing Lanes 

Both merging and changing lanes requires being mindful of cars and trucks that are close by. If a driver changes lanes without being mindful of surrounding vehicles and how fast they are going, a sideswipe accident can occur. In some instances, the offending driver might not see the person they hit if the driver is in a small vehicle or on a motorcycle. These operators are typically in the offending driver’s “blind spot” and said driver did not look behind them before switching lanes. 

Road Rage 

In addition to driving while distracted, intoxicated, or on drugs, some drivers are aggressive due to “road rage.” They take out their frustrations on those around them, and while such drivers usually do not intentionally try to injure others, such accidents still occur. A frustrated, aggressive driver might try to get close to another car or hit it, resulting in a sideswipe collision.  

Steps to Take After a Sideswipe Incident 

The first step to take following a sideswipe accident is for the driver to ensure they and their passengers are okay. If anyone in the vehicle requires emergency medical care, call 911. Once everyone has received the care they need, it is essential for the driver to report the accident to the local police, whether they believe it was intentional or not. Police officers arrive at the scene at the same time or before the EMTs to take statements and create a detailed report.  

The accident must also be reported to the driver’s insurance company, with carriers requiring copies of the medical and police reports for evidence purposes. Do not engage insurers without an attorney, however, as they will use the opportunity to undermine your claims. This is absolutely critical to understand. 

Speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will explain your legal rights and help you identify next steps. If possible, the attorney will file a claim on your behalf, requesting damages that compensate you for your injuries and other losses. 

They will also take steps to begin negotiations with the opposition, in the hopes of securing a favorable sideswipe accident settlement. That being said, it is rare for a sideswipe collision or any vehicular accident to go to trial.  If the defendant is hostile, difficult, or refuses to pay out a fair settlement, the case will have to be decided in court.  

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today 

If you were recently in a sideswipe accident, it’s important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 today to discuss your case in detail with an experienced car accident attorney. Consultation is free and no-commitment, so there’s no downside in picking up the phone and having a conversation with one of our attorneys

Frequently Asked Questions About Sideswipe Accidents

How can I tell who sideswiped who and which car is at fault?

Fault is determined by evaluating what is known as the chain of causation. We explain chain of causation in more details here: How fault is determined in a sideswipe accident.

What is a sideswipe collision or accident?

What happens in a sideswipe car accident is that two vehicles collide, both at a side-angle. This definition, or meaning, includes two types of collisions. When the vehicles are traveling in the same direction and when they’re traveling in the opposite direction. The dangers are severe in both scenarios. 

In a sideswipe same direction collision, for example, a sideswipe can push a vehicle quite a bit off-course. This often happens in situations where one or both of the vehicles is moving past the speed limit. This can cause severe injuries from the vehicles spinning out and having a second collision, with a tree or other hazard, or even another vehicle. 

Why are sideswipe accidents dangerous?

Sideswipe accidents are so dangerous due to the forceful impact of two cars hitting each other from the side angle. Car doors have fewer protections against impact, as the material does not crumple into itself. Instead, any impact tends to injure the person in the seat next to the door. 

For answers to more frequently asked questions about car accidents and personal injury, visit our FAQs page.

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