Were you injured in a sideswipe car accident?
A Chicago sideswipe accident lawyer knows that car accidents can occur from many different angles. This depends on the location of the cars and the direction of travel before impact.
Rear-end accidents are the most common type of collision, but some of these crashes result in only minor damage. Generally, most sideswipe collisions in Chicago are more extreme with many resulting in serious injuries or even death.
What causes a sideswipe car accident?
A sideswipe collision is caused where the side of one car strikes another. This generally occurs where two cars are traveling in the same direction, side by side. These accidents are common on highways, tollways, and expressways, as well as local roads with multiple lanes of traffic. Nearly all sideswipe collisions result from driver negligence.
- Careless Acts are accidents that occur because someone is acting carelessly, for example, not paying attention or driving too close in a congested traffic area. These accidents don’t occur intentionally most of the time, but instead because of distracted driving.
- Reckless Acts occur when a person is acting recklessly. This person may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These drivers shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car at all, but their impaired driving could cause a sideswipe accident.
- Intentional Acts occur when a driver has road rage and intentionally tries to drive someone off the road.
All of the above accidents would lead to the driver being at-fault for the sideswipe car accident. Even careless acts are considered negligent, as the driver has breached their duty to the other drivers on the road. A breach of this duty—the duty to keep others safe while on the road—is what defines negligence. Even glancing away from the road for a second to check your phone is considered negligent driving.
Common Injuries Associated with Sideswipe Accidents
Sideswipe accidents cause a host of different injuries from mild to severe, depending on what side of the vehicle the collision occurs and if there’s anyone seated on the side that is hit. The sides of a vehicle are a lot less protective than the front and back, and getting hit on the side can cause major damage to not only the vehicle but the people inside. Little insulates the sides of the vehicles, and while some cars have side airbags even that is not enough to protect from these types of accidents.
If the vehicle's size differs greatly, the injuries are likely to be more severe. For example, if a semi truck were to sideswipe a passenger car, the injuries would be greater than if a passenger car were to hit another car with the same amount of force. There are many variables in these accidents, and that’s why they’re so unpredictable and dangerous.
Sideswipe accident injuries can include:
- Whiplash, due to the back and forth motion of the head and neck that occurs when a car is struck. Whiplash is generally a minor condition, but can be accompanied by more serious injuries.
- Broken bones, lacerations, cuts, and bruises, are also common. Bones can be broken by crushed metal trapping the legs or arms. If glass is broken, like the window, cuts can also occur. These injuries are usually minor, but internal bleeding is also a possibility, and everyone involved should be examined thoroughly to ensure their injuries aren’t internal as well.
- Traumatic brain injuries are also common with these types of accidents and can lead to brain death, vegetative state, and death.
- Spinal cord injuries can also occur and can cause complete or incomplete paralysis as well as death.
If a sideswipe accident resulted in the loss of a loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the spouse, child, or parent of the deceased party.
Blindspot or Lane Changing Crashes
Failing to check a blind spot is a primary cause of sideswipe collisions. This is common where one car switches lanes on an expressway but does not look in the car's mirrors or check the car's blind spot. If another vehicle is already in the lane the car intends to occupy, a collision is likely to result.
Often, this type of collision is called a lane changing crash. This, because it is due to a driver acting negligently while in the act of changing, moving, or adjusting lanes.
Many vehicles these days have blind spot indicators, blinking at the driver when there’s someone in their blind spot. Some even have lane-assist which will pull a car back into their lane if it is not clear to move over. These systems are not always reliable, and if a driver doesn’t manually check their blind spots, they might miss something, especially when driving at a high speed on the highway.
Distracted Driving Causes Sideswipes
Distracted driving is also responsible for a number of sideswipe collisions every year. Here, the driver drifts over the center line and occupies a portion of another lane. If a vehicle is in the second lane at the time, a crash may occur. The side of the first vehicle would be the vehicle in the second lane.
Drivers are often distracted, or lose their ability to concentrate, due to:
- Texting while driving
- Using a smartphone while driving (like on a social media app)
- Talking on a cell phone
- Driving while tired
- Changing the radio station
- Dealing with children in the car
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or prescription drugs
Aggressive Driving Causes Sideswipe Accidents
Aggressive driving can cause sideswipe crashes as well. This primarily occurs in a merging situation. Here, one driver attempts to speed to get in front of another but switches lanes when there is not enough space.
This differs from other forms of similar collisions because an at-fault driver usually is aware of a second vehicle's presence. And yet they still try to merge, potentially leading to an impact that may cause injuries.
Experienced Sideswipe Accident Attorneys in Chicago
The impact of a sideswipe crash is often described as a glancing blow. However, this fails to adequately convey the devastating nature of many of these accidents. As these crashes tend to occur on expressways, the vehicles are usually traveling at high speeds. This increases the amount of force in the crash and makes it likely that serious damage will result.
The initial impact of a sideswipe crash is not the only concerning factor in these accidents. There is likely to be a loss of vehicle control or a secondary impact in many cases. When a blow to the side of a vehicle occurs, the driver of that vehicle may lose control of the car. This may send the vehicle in a different direction.
Often this means the vehicle travels towards the shoulder of the road. Here, it may strike a guardrail or a cement barrier. Other times, where no barrier exists, an out of control vehicle may leave the road's surface and contact the soft ground surrounding the area on the shoulder or in a median. This increases the chances that the vehicle will roll.
With high speeds, intense forces upon impact, and the potential for multiple impacts or even a rollover, it is not surprising that victims of sideswipe accidents suffer injuries. It can range from bumps and bruises to serious physical trauma to death.
Establishing a Claim for your Sideswipe Accident
Establishing a car accident claim for a sideswipe accident can be important to getting all your bills and damages paid. First, you’ll need to be able to prove that the motorist who caused the accident was breaking safety rules or acting with negligence. A car accident attorney can help you through this process.
The most important things you’ll need to do right after an accident is to gather as much evidence as possible. This can be a lot of work for someone who is recovering from an injury but it’s important.
Even with an attorney, there are a few key steps you’ll want to take after your accident occurs. If possible, take pictures of the scene of the accident. Take pictures of your car, the other person’s car, and any injuries you have. If this is not possible because you’re receiving medical attention, take pictures of your car when you can. If possible, make a written or recorded statement for yourself so you can remember exactly what happened. Do this as soon after your accident as possible.
You’ll also want to make sure that you keep a record of any medical expenses or other expenses that you incur that are related to your injury. This includes any hospital visits, surgery costs, therapy costs, or in-home care that you may need. If you paid for it because of your accident, keep a record of those costs.
Your attorney will use this information and the information that the law firm collects to form a strong case against the at-fault party, helping you to receive adequate compensation and justice for your case.
It’s also important to limit any communication with the liable party and any auto insurance carrier. Anything you say to them could be used later against you, so it’s best not to say anything. Let your attorney speak on your behalf. Your attorney can guide you through the claim, while letting you concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
Legal Challenges Associated with Sideswipe Cases
Sideswipe cases are often more challenging than other car accident cases simply because it can be harder to determine who was at fault for the accident. If one car drifts into another lane and hits someone, the person who drifted out of their lane is liable. But what if the person who was hit also hits a third car? Who would be liable for that person’s injuries? In that case, it would have to be proven that the first car caused the entire accident, which can be difficult to do.
Insurance companies also may try to downplay these accidents, making them seem less severe than they actually are. This could result in a low settlement or the loss of a case if you don’t have an injury lawyer on your side.
Compensation for Sideswipe Accident Victims
If an accident is due to the negligence of one or more parties, Illinois law holds those individuals or corporations liable. They are responsible for the damages that result from the accident. This, whether the damages are in the form of:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- The damages that occur when a loved one is killed in an accident
Either the driver or the driver's insurance company may pay for the damages that result from the crash. In some cases, there may be multiple parties that are liable for injuries.
Following an accident, a victim must assert the right to make a recovery within a time defined by the law. If not, the victim will be forever barred from making such a claim. For this reason and others, it is always a good idea to speak with a lawyer after a collision. You will want to learn if you have a claim and to make sure your rights are protected.
Contact a Chicago Sideswipe Accident Lawyer
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we believe that all accident victims deserve proper compensation. Our team has spent years working for our clients and fighting for their rights.
We offer a free case consultation to all accident victims without any obligation. Further, we have a lawyer available 24 hours a day to take your call. We will review the facts of your accident to help determine whether the law entitles you to a recovery and whether you can recover for your damages.
If you have injuries from a sideswipe accident, call Abels & Annes at (312) 924-7575 or Contact Us online.