ClickCease Sideswipe Accidents

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A side-swipe — or lane change — accident is sometimes described as a glancing blow from or on the side of another vehicle. Side-swipe collisions typically occur when a driver makes an unsafe lane change and makes contact with a vehicle in the adjacent lane.

While fairly common, side-swipe collisions are particularly dangerous for motorcycle riders and bicyclists because many drivers don’t look out for motorcycle and bicycle riders and often fail to safely share the road with them.

Unfortunately, most side-swipe accidents tend to occur because of distracted driving. This includes behaviors such as talking on the phone, texting while driving, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a sideswipe collision is defined as a “a collision in which the sides of both vehicles sustain minimal engagements.”

Side-swipe accidents almost always happen when two vehicles travelling in a parallel manner — whether in the same or opposite direction — make contact with the side of one another’s vehicle. Side-swipe accidents are more or less universally associated with either an intentional or unintentional lane change.

Sometimes, a driver simply does not see another vehicle because of a blind spot, heavy rainfall, or other visual distractions. And in the worst cases, an intentional lane change can be deliberate or reckless in nature.

In general, when a sideswipe accident is caused by an unintentional lane departure, it’s likely that distracted driving, fatigue, or alcohol and drug use played a significant role. Furthermore, anytime a driver attempts to avoid an obstruction or head-on collision, the result can inevitably lead to a sideswipe crash. Vehicle malfunction or medical emergencies are among the least common causes for a sideswipe, but these factors can play a role in contributing to this type of accident.

The nature of a sideswipe can cause a driver to veer out of his or her lane and ultimately collide head-on with another vehicle or object. In fact, a side-swipe accident is often responsible for being the initial impetus for many multi-vehicle accidents.

Below are more common causes of sideswipe accidents:

  1. Speeding. It is easy for a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle when speeding or driving too fast for road conditions. Speeding is especially dangerous when driving through a construction or school zone because a driver may not have enough time to react to obstacles.
  2. Overcorrection. A sideswipe accident can be caused when an animal or child runs out in front of a driver. The driver may have no choice but to swerve into an adjacent lane and unintentionally hit another vehicle.
  3. Not Yielding. In some cases, a driver may merge into another lane and will not yield to oncoming traffic. Failing to yield can cause a sideswipe accident in the process.
  4. Reckless Driving.  A driver who engages in frequent lane changes, tailgates, speeds or is overly aggressive can easily cause a sideswipe collision.
  5. Impaired Driving.  It goes without saying that a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol will have their depth perception and judgment impaired, which can result in a collision with an adjacent vehicle.


There will be a presumption of negligence on the part of the driver who made the lane change. This means that the driver of the car who made the lane change will be presumed to have acted outside the realm of what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation. In other words, before a driver makes a lane change, he or she must signal, check blind spots, and then safely change lanes.  

A driver can be held liable if he or she made a lane change that was unsafe or reckless. In a sideswipe accident, the driver who side swiped the other vehicle as it passes will typically be held liable. If that’s the case, he or she will be placed with 100 percent of the liability. Further, the at fault driver would also be responsible for the damages related to that accident.

There are more considerations to keep in mind. If both parties are deemed partially at fault for the accident, both parties would have to pay a percentage of the damages related to the accident.

Finally, if the side-swipe accident took place on a one-lane highway, liability lies on the overtaking vehicle to safely pass and with enough clearance. And if the accident occurred on a multi-lane highway with clear lane markings, there really is no valid reason for an overtaking vehicle to cross into another lane.


If you have sustained injuries as a result of a side-swipe collision, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (888) 888-9285 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.