Car accidents often occur when we least expect them. While most of us drive defensively and try to steer clear of obvious road hazards, there are some accidents that are unavoidable. Unfortunately, the ones we don’t see coming can do the most damage. Anyone who has ever been involved in a sideswipe collision will tell you just how dangerous such wrecks are.

Sideswipe collisions are a kind of car accident that occurs when two vehicles moving in the same direction make contact. In low-speed sideswipe crashes, damage may be minimal. Cars that are sideswiped at high speed, though, can result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Though not the most common kind of car wreck, sideswipes occur frequently enough. Drivers owe it to themselves to get educated about how and why these incidents happen and how to avoid being involved in one.

Common Causes

As with many kinds of car accidents, driver error is frequently to blame for sideswipe collisions. Distractions are one cause of driver error. With our phones just out of reach, the pinging of a notification can trigger a Pavlovian response in even the safest of drivers. Even those who choose not to text and drive can find their attention wavering when their phone is ringing or buzzing. Even tech-free accidents can occur when a driver is distracted by a conversation with a passenger.

Speeding is another common cause of sideswipe crashes. When a person travels over the speed limit, they lose the small margin of error they have to correct any inconsistencies in their driving. Motorists can lose control of their vehicle when driving too quickly, sending them colliding into other cars on the road.

A failure to yield to oncoming traffic can also lead to sideswipes. When a driver begins to merge into another lane, they must watch out for traffic heading the same direction. In many cases, drivers forget to check their blind spots and merge without looking to see if another vehicle is there. Inevitably, this kind of inattentive driving leads to collisions.

Injuries Associated with Sideswipe Crashes

Because sideswipe accidents are often difficult to anticipate, they can be incredibly dangerous. They also impact the side of the vehicles involved, areas that often lack the same protection installed in the front and rear of the car. In turn, this leads to more serious injuries in victims. The speed, size of the vehicles involved and momentum involved also contribute to the severity of the injuries.

Common injuries associated with sideswipe wrecks include concussions, whiplash, fractures, traumatic brain injuries, cuts, bruises, and spinal cord injuries. Tragically, some of the most serious injuries can be catastrophic, leaving victims permanently paralyzed. Others succumb to their injuries and pass away soon after the wreck.

Avoiding Sideswipe Collisions

Sideswipe collisions are often unexpected, but there are steps you can take to avoid them. Whenever you’re behind the wheel, minimize distractions as best as possible. Turn your phone off and tuck it out of sight and out of mind. If you need to make a call, pull over and put your car in park before taking your phone out. When traveling with passengers, be sure to stay engaged with the task at hand. Simply eliminating as many distractions as possible will go a long way to keep you safe behind the wheel.

Another key element of sideswipe collision avoidance is being tuned into the traffic around you. Keep tabs on the cars directly in front of, behind and beside your vehicle. Most of us do this without thinking, but being more mindful about the flow of traffic can be a good way to avoid collisions. Of course, driving defensively and checking blind spots before changing lanes is all part of this mindfulness.

Taking Legal Action

If you find yourself involved in a sideswipe collision, you may want to take legal action against the other driver involved. In many cases, accident victims are entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver. The cost of medical bills, prescription costs and even therapy bills can be sought from the insurance company of the other party. This is only true, however, if the other driver was indeed at fault. Evidence must show that they were negligent and their choices behind the wheel directly led to the accident.

While it’s possible to pursue a t-bone car accident settlement without a lawyer, doing so can be incredibly complicated. Thankfully, many car accident attorneys work on contingency. This means that clients owe nothing in legal fees unless a settlement is recovered. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations, too, giving accident victims the opportunity to tell their story and explore their legal options.

If you’re considering taking legal action against a negligent driver, Lawsuit Info Center can help. Start with our car accident settlement calculator, a tool that can provide unique insight into what your case may be worth.