Sideswipe car accident cases are on the rise in the United States. With more pressure to stick to schedules and increasing traffic build-up, many drivers are guilty of weaving in and out of traffic. This leads to side-on collisions, which can have devastating consequences for accident victims.
If you’ve been injured in a sideswipe collision, you’ll likely be facing expensive medical bills, property damage, and dealing with the loss of wages as well as emotional pain and suffering. If this is the case for you, you will need to work with a law firm as soon as possible to understand your rights and to make a claim for compensation.
If you’re wondering how an injury attorney would navigate this process for you, you’ll find everything to know about how an experienced attorney would approach a sideswipe car accident case below.
The Law Place is a Florida law firm experienced in injury and accident cases, sideswipe accidents, head-on collisions, pedestrian accidents, and more. We also offer a free consultation and free case evaluation to all our new clients. So, call us today on (941) 444-4444.
Finding Out Who Was at Fault for a Sideswipe Car Accident
The first thing a car accident lawyer would need to determine was that their client was not completely at fault for their own accident. There needs to be another individual or entity that shares some portion of liability in order to have a viable personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Liable parties vary across different types of car accidents. However, the fault could lie with:
The most likely culprit in a sideswipe traffic collision is the motorist who collided with you. This is a fairly straightforward scenario as a car accident attorney would clearly be able to attribute fault to one individual. In this case, the motorist who hit you would be liable for any damages caused.
However, it is possible for multiple motorists to contribute to an accident such as this. For example, the individual who sideswiped you (driver one) may have been taking evasive maneuvers to avoid another driver (driver two) who was swerving or violating traffic laws. In this case, driver one may not be completely at fault for the accident. Here, the fault could lie with driver two, who caused driver one to hit you.
A pedestrian could be responsible for causing a side-on collision, for example, if they were jaywalking or if they stepped out onto the road without looking. This could cause another driver to swerve in order to avoid hitting them, which could then mean that they collided with the side of another driver’s vehicle.
Passengers are actually one of the leading causes of traffic accidents in the State of Florida. If a passenger in a vehicle is distracting the driver, it’s very easy for a car accident to occur. Therefore, it is possible for a driver in a sideswipe car accident to claim that they were caused to drive unsafely due to inappropriate passenger behavior.
A Company or Organization
In some cases, a company or organization could be held responsible for causing a car accident, even if they were not directly present or involved in the incident. This is most common in the case of:
- Travel companies – Private travel companies may share some of the blame for causing a car accident if, for example, they hired an under-qualified or unqualified driver, required their staff to skip rest breaks or spend too long on the road, or if they failed to carry out proper safety checks or training. Another example of a travel company being at fault could be a rental car company that failed to properly maintain their vehicles.
- Equipment manufacturers – It is rare but not impossible for an equipment manufacturer to be responsible for a car accident in the State of Florida. This could be the case, for example, if the cause of the collision was due to faulty equipment such as load securing items or tow bars.
Car Accident Victims
It is also possible that a victim of a sideswipe car accident could share some responsibility for the event. As an example, you may have become injured due to another driver swerving in and out of traffic. However, at the time of the incident, you may have been checking your phone or may have become distracted by a passenger, meaning that you could not react appropriately to an oncoming vehicle. In this example, you would share a portion of the blame for your accident.
However, this does not mean that you would not be eligible to receive any compensation. Florida operates under a Comparative Negligence rule (Florida Statute 768.81), which makes it possible for monetary damages to be determined based on your share of fault.
So, for example, if you were involved in a sideswipe auto accident by a driver who was weaving in and out of traffic recklessly, but you were also distracted by your cell phone, you would likely share some of the blame for the accident. In this car accident claim, if you were ruled to be 30% at fault, you would only be entitled to receive 70% of the total amount of damages, with the 30% reduction reflecting your share of liability.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to work with an experienced car accident lawyer for your claim. The other driver at fault for your accident could claim that you were also negligent. So, you’ll need a strong legal defense in order to avoid losing out on the level of compensation you deserve.
Determining That Negligence Occurred
Once it has been determined that another individual was partially or fully responsible for your sideswipe accident, car accident lawyers will then need to prove that negligence occurred. According to Florida Statute 768.81, in order to do this, they will have to:
Determine Duty of Care
Firstly, your lawyer will have to determine that the person who caused your accident owed you a duty of care. In the State of Florida, all drivers have a legal obligation, or ‘duty of care’ to act safely and in compliance with traffic laws so as not to endanger other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. In fact, any individual or entity involved in or in the presence of a Florida road or highway would be bound by a duty of care to act safely, sensibly, and legally.
Prove a Breach or Violation of Duty of Care
The next thing your car accident attorney will need to do in a negligence case is to prove that the person who caused your accident breached their duty of care.
Therefore, part of proving that negligence occurred in a sideswipe car accident is determining that a law or regulation was broken when a driver collided with you or that a driver was behaving unsafely, thereby violating their duty of care. So, your car accident lawyer will also be investigating the reason that another driver hit you.
Causes for sideswipe car accidents and reasons that an individual may breach their duty of care include:
- Checking a mobile phone.
- Becoming distracted on the road.
- Behaving unsafely as a pedestrian around the road.
- Driving recklessly or dangerously.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Falling asleep at the wheel.
- Driving under the influence.
Prove That This Breach Directly Resulted in Injuries
In order to have a successful negligence case and to be able to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, your lawyer will need to prove that any violation in this duty of care directly resulted in you becoming injured. If you were hit by another driver in a sideswipe accident, this should be relatively straightforward because another motorist hitting you would likely have been what caused your injuries. However, you should always work with an experienced personal injury attorney to get the best possible case result.
Show That You Suffered a Serious Injury
Lastly, you will need to be able to prove that you sustained a significant injury in order to be eligible for compensation.
Florida Statute 327.353 defines a serious injury as one which causes damage to the head or brain, results in disfigurement, affects the function of any organ, or causes a real risk of death.
Finding Evidence to Support Your Car Accident Claim
A key part of the legal process when it comes to any car accident case is for your lawyer to look at any available evidence. This will help them to build a strong argument to help you receive compensation, but also to defend you against any accusations should anyone else involved in the accident claim that you were at fault.
Available evidence can include:
Your Own Account
The first place your personal injury lawyer will start in terms of evidence is your own account of what happened during your vehicle accident. They’ll take you back through what occurred, looking for relevant details to support your claim.
It can often be difficult to remember exact details about vehicle accidents after they occur, especially if you sustained a head injury or if the event was particularly traumatic. Therefore, it’s always best practice to write down as many details about what took place as soon as you are safely able to do so. Try to take down information such as the registration plates of vehicles involved in the car wreck, details about the individuals involved, as well as anything you think is relevant about your injuries or any damages.
After a car crash, anyone involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses, will need to give a recorded statement to law enforcement officers at the scene in compliance with Florida Statute 316.061. Your lawyer will be able to access all of this information in order to make sure you have a viable personal injury case, to support your claim, and to support you in a court of law if necessary.
Photographs and Video Footage
Photographs and videos are the most useful pieces of evidence in cases involving car accidents. In addition to detailed notes, you should also take photographs and videos at the scene of the crime if you are well enough and it is safe for you to do so. You’ll also need to take photographs of any property damage or injuries, continuing to document the recovery process over the next few months.
Accident attorneys will also be able to access any surveillance footage that may have captured the accident. This is the most useful type of evidence as it relies solely on facts rather than memories or accounts from those who may have a personal bias.
Your Car Accident Attorney Will Deal with Your Insurance Company
Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with. They often use complex legal jargon and are usually looking for loopholes they can use in order to avoid paying you the full amount of compensation you deserve. This can be as simple as using language to downplay your claim.
For example, insurance companies will usually ask if you are feeling ok following your car accident. Many individuals respond in the affirmative because they are caught off guard. However, your insurance company could use this to state that you were not seriously injured and therefore would not be entitled to receive a full compensation pay-out under your own Personal Injury Protection insurance.
Accident attorneys will therefore liaise with a driver’s insurance company on their behalf, making sure that they don’t do anything to jeopardize a claim. They’ll also fill out any paperwork and navigate the legal process when it comes to dealing with any insurance companies involved in a car accident case.
In most cases, you will need to report an auto accident to your insurance company within 24 hours. Therefore, you should find a personal injury and car accident attorney as soon as possible after the incident.
Car Accident Attorneys Can Provide Legal Advice
Once a car accident attorney has established negligence, pinpointed who was at fault for your accident, and looked at all available evidence, they will be able to give you more accurate legal advice. For example, they’ll be able to help you decide whether to file a personal injury claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
If your case was relatively small and your accident fairly minor, they may advise you to file a claim and try to achieve an accident settlement out of court. During this process, your attorney will liaise with your insurance company, as well as the insurance company of the at-fault driver, in order to reach a monetary settlement. This will be paid to you without needing to take your case to court. In general, this is a much shorter, less complicated, and overall less costly legal process.
However, if your motor vehicle accident was much larger and your case is more complicated, your lawyer may suggest that you file a lawsuit. This will take your case before a court of law where total monetary damages as well as determining fault will be decided by a judge and jury. Filing a lawsuit usually results in a higher amount of compensation. However, it can take 2-3 years to receive a court date. This results in higher legal fees and a much longer wait to receive any benefits.
What Compensation Could I Receive for a Sideswipe Accident?
Auto accidents in the State of Florida are incredibly expensive. There’s usually property damage involved, which, when combined with ambulance travel, hospital stays, and recovery costs, leaves the average accident victim significantly out of pocket.
If you’re injured in an accident and wish to pursue compensation, you could receive cover for:
Short-Term Medical Bills
As long as you properly document all of your short-term medical bills, you will likely be able to receive a level of compensation, whether from your own Personal Injury Protection insurance or by making a claim against the at-fault driver. This could include ambulance travel, X-rays, doctor’s fees, and medication. Under Florida Statute 627.736, you have 14 days to seek medical assistance in order to make a valid claim.
Long-Term Medical Expenses
For many victims of car accidents, medical costs span months or even years depending on the severity of their injuries. Therefore, compensation could also cover the long-term medical expenses of living with a disability as well as ongoing rehabilitation and physiotherapy needed to recover.
Loss of Wages
It’s likely that you’ll be absent from work whilst recovering from a serious injury. You could even be required to leave your job or alter your work patterns as a result of more permanent injuries. Therefore, you could be entitled to receive compensation for any loss of wages you have experienced.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering compensation is designed to support you with the mental ramifications of being involved in a car crash, such as trauma, PTSD, anxiety, or other types of emotional distress. This also includes loss of enjoyment of life if your normal activities or way of living are significantly altered as a result of your injuries.
Contact The Law Place – Experienced Car Accident Attorneys
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, get in touch with The Law Place today. We’re a law firm of car accident and personal injury lawyers dedicated to supporting our clients and helping them achieve the compensation they deserve.
You could be entitled to claim for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. So, don’t suffer in silence.
Book your free consultation and free case evaluation with one of our car accident attorneys today on (941) 444-4444.