Frequently Asked Questions - Who Is Liable For A Sideswipe Accident?
Sideswipe automobile accidents occur for a myriad of reasons. Most often, it is simply because the at-fault driver is not paying attention to their surroundings. More specifically, these collisions can occur when a driver switches to a different lane without checking their blind spot, when two drivers are merging into the same lane at the same time, when a driver veers out of their lane due to driving while distracted, drowsy or under the influence, or losing control of their vehicle due to speeding, driving aggressively or weather conditions. Simply put, sideswipe accidents happen when a driver fails to maintain their specific travel lane and, in turn, the sides of two vehicles collide.
There can be a number of complexities when determining liability for a motor vehicle crash. A sideswipe accident is no exception. In fact, in a sideswipe accident, liability often proves more difficult to establish as most side swipe accidents you cannot anticipate the impact as you most times do not see the vehicle coming. This can create a situation where one or both parties are confused as to what happened or how the collision occurred. Thus, leaving you to wonder or worry if any liability falls to you.
Florida Law is clear, all drivers are under obligation to operate their vehicle in a safe and prudent manner and are to only make lane changes when it is safe to do so. Simply put, the driver who deviated from their designated lane of travel when it was unsafe to do so would be found liable for the crash. However, it may not always be easy to determine which vehicle left its lane of travel.
So, whether you believe liability to be clear or not, it is most prudent to call the police to the accident scene to report the crash. The responding police officer will investigate the accident based on the involved parties’ statements, any third-party eyewitnesses, vehicle damages, and any marks on the road. The officer will then determine the preliminary fault. Sometimes, due to conflicting statements and lack of physical evidence, the officer may not be able to determine fault and will state such on the official police report.
You should also report the accident immediately to your automobile insurance carrier so that they can facilitate their own extensive investigation. Once you report the accident to your insurance company, they will investigate the crash by collecting the police report, obtaining any recorded or informal statements from all involved parties, including any eye-witness accounts, and, if necessary, execute a crash recreation performed by an expert. Then, upon completion of their detailed investigation, the insurance company will form and declare their liability stance. You may even receive a phone call from the other party’s insurance company during their investigation phase.
It is quite common for the at-fault insurance companies to dispute liability or place partial blame on the plaintiff in sideswipe auto accidents. If this predicament happens to you, I highly encourage you to reach out to an experienced civil attorney to protect and fight for your rights. At the minimum, it could be incredibly beneficial for you to receive a consultation or case evaluation prior to making any recorded or even informal statements to the insurance companies. Although the events may seem simple and straightforward to you, there is a likelihood that your explanation of the accident events could be misinterpreted causing liability to be placed on you. It is also feasible that in certain circumstances more than one party may be found liable for a sideswipe motor vehicle crash. It is possible wherein you may be assigned a percentage of fault for the accident. This is called shared, comparative, or contributory liability. Let’s utilize the example of two vehicles merging into the same lane at the same time. Even if you believe you began switching lanes first or that you occupied the majority share of the lane, you still may be held liable for a portion of the accident.
If your insurance company and the at-fault’s insurance company cannot come to a collective decision regarding liability. Often times, the insurance companies will settle the dispute in arbitration. Arbitration allows the insurance companies to come to a resolution regarding liability outside of court.
If you sustained injuries as a result of a sideswipe accident, you should seek an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They will advise you of the merits of your case and the probability of successfully negotiating your case against the other driver. They will take charge of the investigation phase through to the settlement negotiations phase. Personal injury attorneys also work on a contingency fee basis. Thus, if they are not successful in receiving a monetary settlement for you, then you owe them nothing for their work. A personal injury attorney only gets paid if they are successful in negotiating a settlement for you against the at-fault party. With that in mind, it is sensible to employ a personal injury attorney to safeguard you if you have been involved in a messy sideswipe auto accident. They will carry out all future correspondences with the insurance companies to ensure that nothing gets misconstrued to your detriment. Your attorney will not only explain any insurance coverage or liability issues to you, but they will also help manage interactions with the insurance companies to minimize any further coverage or liability complications. Your attorney will then conduct their own investigation into the crash on your behalf – collecting the police report, collecting any and all statements made by all parties, eye-witness statements, and, if necessary, expert testimony from auto accident reconstruction specialists. Handling such a delicate and high-pressure situation on your own can be overwhelming. Yet, personal injury attorneys handle these situations daily. They have vital and indispensable legal knowledge on the subject matter and have countless techniques and sources at their disposal to ensure you receive the strongest representation possible.
In most states, even if you are found partially liable for a sideswipe collision, you still could be eligible for a personal injury settlement. So, although you may think there’s no hope for you, a personal injury attorney may still be successful in negotiating compensation for you in a sideswipe collision.