Sideswipe Car Damage? Here’s What to Do

If you’ve been in a car accident resulting in sideswipe car damage, how do figure out who’s at fault? There are several factors to consider. But first of all, let’s define exactly what a sideswipe is.

A sideswipe accident is a collision between two vehicles traveling in the same or opposite, where the right side of one vehicle impacts the left side of the other vehicle.

This type of collision usually occurs when one vehicle tries to change lanes when it isn’t safe to do so. Although these types of accidents are common and can be minor, they can also cause major damage or could cause a more serious secondary accident to occur right after the impact.

What Causes Sideswipe Car Damage?

Sideswipe car damage can be caused by a number of different factors, including:

  • Vehicle blind spots
  • Distractedness
  • Recklessness
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Drunk driving
  • Changing lanes without checking blind spots
  • Multiple drivers merging into the same lane
  • Skidding
  • Hydroplaning on slippery roads
  • Getting too close to a parked car

Often, sideswiping another car can cause both drivers to swerve out of control and crash into other objects like siderails, trees, light posts or even other vehicles. Swerving can also lead to rollover crashes or head-on collisions where the damage is much greater and injuries are much more serious.

More than 840,000 sideswipe accidents occur annually in the United States due to vehicle blind spots.

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What Should I Do If I’ve Just Been in a Sideswipe Car Accident?

You should treat a sideswipe car accident just as any other accident. First, evaluate whether anyone has been hurt in the accident. If someone requires medical attention, call 911. If the vehicles in the accident are still drivable, drive them to the side of the road, out of the way of traffic, and put on the blinking hazard lights in each car. Be sure to call the police and file a report and exchange information with the other driver. This information should include name, address, vehicle information, license plate number, driver’s license number and insurance information. Take extensive photos of the accident scene, including close-ups of damage, lane set-up, signage and other markers that will be crucial in determining fault and liability after the accident.

Sideswipe Accident Checklist

  • If someone is injured, call 911
  • Drive vehicles to the side of the road if possible
  • Call the police and file a report
  • Exchange all information with the other driver including name, address, license plate number, diver’s license, and insurance information.
  • Take extensive photos documenting the scene and sideswipe car damage

What Do I Do Next?

You should call your insurance company as soon as possible after the sideswipe car accident. Be sure to provide your agent with all of the documentation from the accident scene, including all the photo you took, the police report, and the other driver’s information. Your insurance agent will evaluate all the information to determine the nature of the crash, the severity and cost of the damage, and the liability. Then your insurance company will contact the other driver’s insurance company to compare the two different accounts. If the accounts differ, you may receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company.

Sideswipe Car Damage FAQs

How Do I Assess Sideswipe Car Damage?

The extent of the damage to your vehicle depends on a number of factors. If the other driver’s vehicle was much larger than yours, or taller than yours, the damage is probably more significant.
The extent of the damage also depends on how fast both drivers were going. If the sideswipe occurred near or above your tires, your alignment or other internal systems may be damaged. Look at the side of your car for dents, sideview mirror damage or loss, and scraped quarter panels.
If the sideswipe caused the vehicles to swerve into other objects or caused a head-on collision, the damage will of course be much greater. Be sure to photograph all of the damage in detail. Check your doors to see if they still open.

What if I’m Not at Fault?

If you are not at fault, the other driver’s liability insurance should cover all of your sideswipe car damage and any medical costs if you were injured in any way. Almost all states require some type of liability insurance, so check your policy or call your insurance agent for details. If all of your costs are not covered by the other driver’s liability insurance, consult your insurance agent on how to negotiate additional costs. Consulting an attorney may also be in your best interests.

I Think I May be Injured. What Should I Do?

If you are not at fault, the other driver’s liability insurance should cover all of your sideswipe car damage and any medical costs if you were injured in any way. Almost all states require some type of liability insurance, so check your policy or call your insurance agent for details. If all of your costs are not covered by the other driver’s liability insurance, consult your insurance agent on how to negotiate additional costs. Consulting an attorney may also be in your best interests.

I Was Sideswiped in a Hit-and-Run Accident. Now What?

You’re driving down the highway and a driver sideswipes you and speeds away before you can get the license plate. Or you leave your car parked in a lot or on the side of the road only to find that someone has sideswiped your vehicle and taken off with no note or information. If either of these things happen, your own insurance company can probably help you pay for the damages, but only if you have the right coverage.
Most state require liability insurance to make sure a driver is covered if they cause an accident. But since you don’t know the identity of the driver in a hit and run, liability insurance won’t help you.
This is how difference insurance coverage factors into a sideswipe hit-and-run:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
In many state, uninsured motorist coverage, or UIM, is required at least minimally, which will cover financial compensation in the case of a hit-and-run sideswipe accident. It’s worth considering upping your coverage for UIM in your insurance policy so that all costs are covered if you’re in a hit-and-run accident. Be sure to report the accident immediately to the police and to your insurance company. Look around the scene and see if there might be any witnesses to the hit and run – this could help you significantly in showing proof of the accident.
PIP Coverage
Personal injury protection coverage, or PIP, will pay for medical expenses and lost wages for you as the insured driver in a hit-and-run sideswipe accident. It’s typically available in most states as add-on coverage. In states that have a no-fault insurance system, PIP is part of the required coverage. However, PIP coverage cannot be used for damage to your vehicle or emotional distress related to the accident. Also, you should keep in mind that if you make a claim under your PIP coverage, your rates may go up in some cases.
Collision Coverage
Collision coverage can cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after a hit-and-run sideswipe accident. However, be aware that your insurance company will probably raise your rates after a collision coverage claim. So it’s wise to consider the extent and cost of the damage to your vehicle before you submit a collision coverage claim, weighing it against the fact that your rates will be higher as a result.

Be sure to check your insurance policy immediately to see if there is any other potential coverage available to you, such as coverage for a rental car while your car is being repaired. And of course, as in any accident, document your medical condition in the days after the accident in case additional injuries become apparent.