A sideswipe accident is a car accident where one of two vehicles traveling in the same direction impacts the side of the other. These accidents usually occur when one of the two vehicles moves out of its lane of traffic at a time when it is not safe to do so. Sideswipes can be very dangerous, especially at high speeds. Typically, neither driver expects the accident, and therefore neither takes any action to avoid the collision. The sudden unexpected impact can result in one or both vehicles losing control, creating a chain of events that may involve property damage and many more vehicles.
Fault is Determined by Negligence
Fault in a North Carolina car accident is assigned by determining who was the negligent party in the accident. To prove negligence in North Carolina, the injured party must prove that the other driver:
- had a duty to exercise reasonable care
- failed to meet that duty
- injured the victim and
- the failure to exercise due care was the cause of the injuries
However, North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. This policy means that if you were at all at fault in the accident, you might not recover from the defendant.
Examples of Negligence that Can Cause Sideswipe Accidents
Most sideswipe accidents occur because one of the drivers involved was negligent. Some of the ways in which these drivers might be negligent include the following.
One of the most common and fastest-growing causes of car accidents on North Carolina roads is distracted driving. Drivers are eating and driving; they are putting on makeup and driving. Most commonly and illegally, they are texting, or scrolling through social media. In each of these ways, the driver is not exercising the required due care by paying attention to the task at hand: operating a two-ton lethal weapon.
Driving Under the Influence
Despite much higher penalties for DUIs and some success in preventing drunk driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs remains one of the main causes of North Carolina sideswipe accidents. Drivers under the influence exaggerate their reactions in an effort to appear sober. This overreaction can cause a driver to experience difficulty maintaining the correct lane and thereby swiping another driver.
Tired or Sleepy Drivers
Being a sleepy driver is virtually as dangerous as being a drunk driver. Tired drivers’ reaction times are off; they exaggerate corrections. Under these circumstances, it’s easy to lose your concentration and sideswipe a vehicle in the next lane.
Angry drivers frequently take aggressive action against drivers they believe have somehow “wronged” them on the road. These reactions may include tailgating, applying brakes to startle or warn off the other driver, and crowding the other driver in that driver’s lane. This last act is one of the more common causes of sideswipe accidents.
Improper Lane Changes
An improper lane change is the most common cause of a sideswipe accident. When changing lanes, the changing driver is required to yield to the driver already in the lane. Whether the changing driver fails to see the other vehicle due to variances in their respective sizes or the driver simply fails to exercise care and courtesy to the other driver, the improper lane change will result in the changing car sideswiping the car already in the lane.
Sometimes a sideswipe accident results from a problem with one of the vehicles. Poor maintenance can lead to steering problems, making it hard to control the driver’s lane. In the same way, a problem with the brakes can make a driver swerve out of control while trying to stop the vehicle. Similarly, a sudden blowout can cause a catastrophic loss of control of the vehicle.
Often a sideswipe accident is just that – two vehicles drag along one another’s side, causing some amount of property damages. However, sideswipes, particularly at high speeds on expressways, can also cause chain reaction accidents with many victims and a lot of property damages. The original at-fault driver is likely to be arguably liable for all of the additional damages.
What to Do after a Sideswipe Accident
If you’ve been involved in a sideswipe accident, you should take certain steps right away. These include:
- Report the accident to law enforcement if there were injuries or fatalities, property damage to a vehicle in excess of $1000
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers
- Get contact information from potential witnesses
- Take photos of the scene – weather, obstacles, damages, etc.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible
- Contact a skilled and experienced car accident attorney
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Wilmington Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been in a sideswipe accident in Wilmington, contact us right away for assistance with your case. A law firm concentrating its practice in car accidents will bring that experience and knowledge to your accident from the free initial case evaluation and consultation to filing your claim and potentially your lawsuit. We will be there to help you to achieve the best possible result in your case.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in North Carolina?
North Carolina law provides a three-year statute of limitations for bringing an action in a personal injury case. This limitation means that the victim has just three years from the date the injury became apparent or should have been apparent to file a lawsuit.
When should I call an attorney?
Generally, if your case has any complications at all, the sooner you call an attorney, the better off you will be. Indeed, even if your case isn’t all that complicated, an attorney will gladly provide an initial consultation at no cost to you, leaving you with a better understanding of how to handle your case.
How much is my case worth?
One of the best reasons for contacting a car accident law firm about your sideswipe accident is that they will understand far better than you how much your case is worth. The worth of your case depends upon your economic damages like medical and hospital expenses and on non-economic damages like pain and suffering. An attorney familiar with car accident cases can give you an idea of how much your case may be worth.