According to the National Safety Council, one person sustains injuries in a car accident on U.S. roads every seven seconds. While all accidents are scary, sideswipe accidents can be especially terrifying because they often lead to secondary collisions. When two cars collide side-to-side, the force of the collision can push one car into the path of oncoming traffic or cause one or both vehicles to spin out of control.

In one recent year, 34,247 fatal motor vehicle accidents resulted in 37,133 deaths nationwide. Thankfully, Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates of fatal car accidents in the nation. Even so, sideswipe accidents represent a serious danger to all Massachusetts drivers. If you suffered an injury in a sideswipe collision or have a family member who has, contact an experienced car accident attorney for more information about your legal rights.

What Is a Sideswipe Collision?

There are so many names for car accidents, it can be hard to keep track; rear-end, broadside, sideswipe. These names define an accident by the point of impact between two vehicles. A sideswipe accident happens when the sides of two vehicles traveling roughly parallel to each other collide at an oblique angle.

Common causes of sideswipe collisions include:

  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving killed 3,166 people across the United States in one recent year. Drivers who look down at their phones or turn to look at rear-seat passengers inadvertently cause their cars to drift into an adjacent lane.
  • Road rage: Drivers who aggressively weave in and out of traffic or otherwise use their cars to express their anger risk causing sideswipe accidents.
  • Drunk driving: Driving under the influence is dangerous; driving under the influence caused 120 traffic fatalities in Massachusetts. A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol has difficulty controlling a vehicle. Swerving is a common symptom of drunk driving.
  • Poor visibility: A driver may fail to clear a blind spot or take poor weather into account when driving, and cause an accident as a result.
  • Speeding: Speeding can make it hard to avoid a sideswipe accident by reducing driver reaction times.

Where Do Sideswipe Collisions Occur?

Sideswipe accidents can happen anywhere two vehicles share the same stretch of road. That said, some of the most common sideswipe accident locations include:

  • Residential streets: Narrow neighborhood streets make for tight a squeeze. Sideswipe collisions often occur on neighborhood streets when cars pass each other traveling in opposite directions, or when a single moving vehicle clips a parked car or truck.
  • Highways: Sideswipe collisions on busy highways usually happen when a vehicle leaves its lane, either on purpose or by mistake, and runs into a vehicle in the adjacent lane.
  • Freeway on-ramps: Vehicles merging into a stream of traffic often cause sideswipe collisions when they fail to check their blind spots, to match the speed of the flow of traffic, or run out of on-ramp and enter into the travel lane without space to do so.
  • Intersections with right-hand turns: Right turns typically require drivers to yield to traffic approaching in the lane the drivers intend to enter. Sideswipe accidents happen when a driver turning right fails to yield and merges into a lane that is already occupied by another vehicle. A variation occurs when a driver turning left and a driver turning right from opposite directions try to turn into the same lane simultaneously.

Proving Fault After a Sideswipe Collision

Sometimes it can be hard to determine who was at fault in a sideswipe collision, particularly in those accidents involving two vehicles changing lanes or turning simultaneously. Experienced car accident injury lawyers understand the importance of tracking down various types of evidence that may prove who caused the collision.

These may include:

  • Security/traffic camera footage: At first blush, it might seem like a long-shot that a video camera would have captured your accident. However, in this day-and-age, cameras are everywhere. Businesses have security cameras that face the street. Local and state government agencies have cameras monitoring traffic flow on highways, at intersections, over bridges, and through toll booths. Drivers run dashboard cameras as a safety measure and for insurance purposes. Plus, virtually everyone carries a smartphone that can shoot HD video. In short, video footage of your sideswipe accident could prove extremely valuable to demonstrate who was at fault.
  • Vehicle damage: When two vehicles hit side to side, might seem difficult at first to tell who-hit-who. However, accident reconstruction experts who work regularly with lawyers and insurance companies know the tell-tale signs that can indicate which car made impact first, and at what angle. Ideally, these experts have the opportunity to examine the vehicles themselves. In a pinch, however, photographs taken at the accident scene can serve as a helpful substitute (which is why, if safe to do so, you should always take pictures and videos of your entire accident scene, including close-ups and wide-angle shots of the vehicles, roadway, and surrounding area).
  • The location of the accident: The spot on the road where two vehicles collide can serve as a helpful and reasonably accurate indicator of fault. If a driver is turning right onto a two-lane street and another is turning left to head in the same direction, then the lane in which the accident occurred may give clues about who was at fault. Similarly, the direction the cars drift after the impact can help to prove which vehicle initiated the collision, such as by changing lanes or attempting to merge.

These are just a few of the clues experienced car accident injury lawyers look to when inquiring into a sideswipe accident. The best way to begin an investigation is to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident occurs.

Getting the Help You Deserve

Sideswipe accidents have an undeserved reputation as minor accidents, but car accident injury lawyers know they can cause devastating injuries and losses. If a sideswipe accident has turned your life inside out, an experienced car accident injury attorney can help you recover the compensation you need to pay for your injuries.