The roads of Florida see high volumes of traffic every year. However, this significantly increases the risk of accidents occurring and can have disastrous consequences for those involved. One of the most common types of collisions is side-wipe accidents, which happen when two cars are traveling in the same direction, and one vehicle hits the side of the other. These accidents often occur when drivers are attempting to change lanes without taking the necessary safety precautions first.
Often, sideswipe accidents lead to victims suffering injuries that have a slow recovery process or have life-long effects. There are numerous injuries that sideswipe accidents commonly cause, many of which can be compensated. When you choose to hire a reputable attorney, you will increase your chances of recovering enough compensation to cover the cost of medical bills, loss of income, and any other suffering you have faced. Ensure that you do enough research before making any final decisions on your representation. It could mean the difference between a good settlement and a great one.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a sideswipe accident that wasn’t your fault, you will need the guidance and advice of an experienced lawyer. At The Law Place, our team has over 75 years of combined experience in representing clients in positions just like yours. Plus, we work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t face any fees unless you successfully receive a settlement from your insurance company.
Contact The Law Place today to arrange a free consultation with a member of our team where you will receive free, impartial advice, no-strings-attached. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so do not hesitate to call whenever you need us. Contact us today at (941) 444-4444.
What Is a Sideswipe Accident?
As previously mentioned, a sideswipe accident happens when two cars are traveling alongside each other, and one makes an impact with the side of the other vehicle. Sometimes referred to as ‘blind spot accidents,’ these types of accidents can also happen when two vehicles are traveling in opposite directions.
There is a multitude of reasons why side-wipe accidents can occur. One of the most common causes is unsafe lane changes that drivers make without correctly checking the road. No matter the cause, the impact of the collision surprises drivers and can often lead to serious injuries or even fatalities if the vehicles in question are moving at high speeds.
Unfortunately, the high-speed impact is not the only dangerous part of a sideswipe accident. Often, drivers can subsequently lose control of their vehicles as they try to overcompensate and recover their place on the road. This can lead to situations where additional cars become involved in the accident, especially vehicles in front, which are then at risk of a rear-end collision. Even if no other vehicles become involved, the impacted vehicle may still crash into roadside objects or guardrails at the side of the highway.
The Common Causes of Sideswipe Accidents on the Roads of Florida
While a sideswipe collision can occur for many reasons, they are most commonly caused by drivers not paying attention to their surroundings.
Below is a list of the most common causes for sideswipe crashes, as seen by the car accident lawyers at our law firm over the years:
- When a driver fails to check their blind spots before attempting to change lanes.
- When a driver is driving whilst distracted, for example by a mobile phone, conversation, or the music in their vehicle.
- When a driver is intoxicated by either alcohol or drugs and changes lanes improperly.
- Reckless driving, which can have many causes such as road rage or racing.
- When a driver fails to properly use their turn signal to show their intention to change lanes.
- Merging recklessly without checking if it is safe to do so.
- Two drivers shifting into the same lane at the same time.
- Hydroplaning, which occurs when a car attempts to turn on an icy or wet road.
Who Is at Fault for a Sideswipe Accident?
While it is impossible to say for sure for every case, since every car accident is different, the person at fault in a sideswipe accident is usually the driver who has failed to maintain traveling in a single lane. This is especially true when the lane change takes place in a dangerous way or if signals are not used correctly.
When it comes to demonstrating fault, your personal injury lawyer will need to be able to demonstrate that the other driver violated their duty of care and is thus guilty of negligence, as per Florida Statute 768.81.
It is also possible that more than one driver can be found to be at fault in a sideswipe accident.
What Is a Duty of Care and How Does It Apply to Sideswipe Accidents?
A duty of care, in legal terms, is something that everybody always owes those around them.
To put it simply, it means that people have a duty not to undertake actions that are obviously dangerous and put other people around them at risk.
To take the example of a sideswipe accident, putting people at risk by failing to signal properly or driving recklessly is a violation of the duty of care that the driver has to keep fellow road users safe from their actions.
The Different Parties Who Could Be Found to Be at Fault for a Sideswipe Accident
Once it is proven that someone else owed you a duty of care, that they violated this duty of care, and that the subsequent violation caused your injuries, then that person owes at least a portion of liability under Florida law.
The following is a breakdown of the different parties who could be found to be liable for your car accident and the damages it caused.
The Driver of Another Vehicle
Another person driving a car or other motor vehicle is the most likely person to be found liable for your sideswipe accident.
This is because most sideswipe accidents occur when someone crosses from another lane without signaling, checking their blind spots, or otherwise driving negligently.
Liability here is not limited to one car, as two vehicles or more may be involved, especially if a driver does lose control of their vehicle. In these cases, it can be more complex to determine fault, especially if two vehicles or more were demonstrating negligent driving.
While less common, it is also possible for pedestrians to be responsible for a collision.
This usually happens when someone is either jaywalking or stepping out into traffic without warning, forcing a vehicle to quickly change into another lane without necessary caution.
Many people do not realize that passengers are a leading contributor to car collisions.
This is because it is so easy for a passenger to distract the driver, which can cause a crash to happen with the possibility of inflicting serious injuries.
In cases like these, it is possible for the driver of the vehicle that caused the sideswipe accident to actually sue their passenger for behaving inappropriately and distracting them.
An Organization or Company
It is possible that a company or organization could be responsible for your accident.
Travel or haulage companies, for example, can be found to be negligent if they are operating unsafe vehicles, coercing employees to skip rest breaks, or failing to follow safety protocol.
Similarly, if equipment malfunctions, it is possible that the maker of said equipment could be liable because of their defective product.
What Injuries Are Commonly the Result of a Florida Sideswipe Accident?
This type of auto accident can lead to a range of injuries that vary in severity depending on how bad the sideswipe accident was.
Injuries leading to personal injury claims as a result of a sideswipe accident include:
- Cuts, lacerations, road rash, and bruising.
- Burns and scalds.
- Fractures or broken bones.
- Internal injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding.
- Head injuries or brain damage, which can often lead to cognitive, behavioral, or emotional impairments.
- Mobility impairments or other physical disabilities.
- Amputation, scarring, and disfigurement.
- Whiplash or other spinal injuries.
As well as physical damage to the body, a sideswipe accident is traumatic enough to often cause mental distress, which can express itself as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Anxiety or depression.
- Inability to drive or go near roads in the future.
- Flashbacks or other types of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Sleep disorders such as night terrors or insomnia.
If you have received any of the above physical injuries, mental distress, or even something not listed as a result of a sideswipe accident, it is likely you are entitled to compensation for your damages.
For the best chances at achieving the level of compensation you deserve, we would highly recommend seeking the assistance of a qualified and experienced attorney like those at The Law Place. To see how we can help you to gather evidence, determine liability, and maximize your settlement, arrange a free consultation with a lawyer from our firm today.
What Happens if You Have Some Partial Responsibility for the Occurrence of the Sideswipe Collision?
It is possible to be partially at fault for a sideswipe accident but not entirely, especially in cases where there are multiple vehicles changing lanes at the same time.
In cases like these, comparative fault and negligence laws will apply, as per Florida Statute 768.81.
The way this works is that a percentage of your settlement will be taken away, depending on how much blame you bear for the accident. For example, if the accident was 40% your fault, your final settlement amount will be decreased by 40%.
What Different Types of Damages Can a Lawyer Win Compensation for Following Sideswipe Collisions?
When your lawyer works to achieve your compensation, the money will come from one or more different categories. Which ones apply to your case will depend on the circumstances and results of your sideswipe accident. Generally speaking, the more severe the consequences, the greater amount of payout you can expect.
We will fully expand on the different types of damages in the sections below, or you can book a free consultation with a member of our attorney team for help determining which specifically applies to your case.
Claiming for Property Damage
Your body is not the only thing at risk in an auto accident. Cars are expensive and vital to the daily routines of many Americans, and replacing them quickly after an accident is not always possible.
As well as this, it is not uncommon for drivers to be carrying mobile phones, jewelry, or other valuables in their cars, which can be damaged or destroyed in the event of an auto accident.
If you lost or had valuable property destroyed in a sideswipe collision, an attorney from our law firm can help you to claim back an amount up the lost value of the property.
Claiming for Medical Expenses
Accompanying an already traumatic physical injury is always the looming cost of healthcare and medical expenses. In fact, it is such a problem that medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States of America today.
If you received an injury as a result of an auto accident that required medical attention, we could help you claim back the cost. We highly recommend that all of our clients hold on to copies of their medical bills for help proving the cost of the car accident to your insurance company.
Claiming for Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is the name given to the category of damages that reimburse your compensation based on the length of your recovery process, the amount of pain involved, and the presence of any additional lifelong complications.
Examples of lifelong complications can include a range of things such as post-traumatic stress disorders, mobility impairments or other disabilities, and extensive scarring or disfigurement.
Claiming for Lost Wages
Victims of severe sideswipe accidents often have to take time off work while they recover from their injuries and trauma. Many workplaces do not provide full pay during this time, leading to a loss of household income which places additional strain on an already stressful situation.
If you are in this position due to a sideswipe collision, an attorney from our law firm can help you win back this lost income. Simply keep hold of any correspondence with your employer concerning time off as evidence for your insurance company.
Claiming for Wrongful Death
As unthinkable as it is, a sideswipe collision is an incredibly dangerous occurrence and can often lead to fatalities.
Wrongful death claims are designed to help a grieving family shoulder the burden of these incredibly hard times. A wrongful death claim works to reimburse lost household income, cover burial and funeral expenses, and provide compensation for loss of kinship, companionship, and consortium.
While money is likely to be the furthest thing from your mind under such tragic circumstances, the payout from a wrongful death claim can give you the breathing space you need to grieve and process without additional strain.
How Long Does a Victim of a Sideswipe Accident Have to Claim for Damages?
In Florida, all personal injury claims are constrained by the statute of limitations, which determines how much time can pass after an accident occurs before the victim is unable to claim compensation.
The statute of limitations for a car accident that occurs in Florida is four years, beginning from the exact date on which the accident occurred, as per Florida Statute 95.11.
It should be noted that this period of time is shorter if you are aiming to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for these is only two years from the date on which your loved one lost their life.
What Should You Do Immediately After an Auto Accident to Protect Your Legal Rights?
Generally speaking, there are five steps that are essential to ensuring you are fully legally protected and remain eligible for compensation following a car accident.
- First, call the police and properly report the accident. This is valuable evidence.
- Second, when it is safe to do so, take photos of the scene. You will want to include vehicle damage, registration plates, any environmental damage, and skid marks on the road. All of this can be incredibly helpful for determining fault in a sideswipe accident.
- Third, get details from all of the other drivers involved in the accident and any eyewitnesses. You will want to include full names, addresses, phone numbers, and registration plate numbers.
- Fourth, seek medical attention for your injuries. Not only is proper medical care important for your safety, but you are also required to seek medical care for your injuries within 14 days of a collision, as per Florida Statute 627.736. If you have sustained serious injuries, skip the other steps (or have someone complete them on your behalf) and prioritize your safety.
- Fifth and finally, call or otherwise contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Don’t waste time, as this can negatively impact the potential value of your settlement.
Why Is Time of the Essence After Auto Collisions?
We mentioned how important it is to call and secure the counsel of an attorney as soon as possible after a car crash occurs.
This is because your attorney team likely will not be the only team working on the case. Both your insurance company and any other parties involved in the collision are likely to have their attorney team working as quickly as possible.
Besides this, evidence and eyewitness accounts can quickly become lost or otherwise unavailable. While every lawyer at The Law Place has access to personal investigators and car crash recreation teams to recover evidence, the initial evidence from a fresh crash is incredibly valuable.
Furthermore, your lawyer will need as much time as possible to build you a solid case that gives you the best chance of maximizing your settlement amount.
How to Handle Your Insurance Company After a Car Crash
While insurance companies claim to be on your side after a car collision, nothing could be further from the truth. Your insurance company will want to pay out as little as possible as compensation for your injuries to reduce the cost to them.
Unfortunately, insurance companies not only have access to expensive attorney teams and claims adjusters, but they also use underhanded tricks to attempt to reduce your potential settlement amount.
One such trick is pumping you for extra unnecessary information during your phone call to them. Since you are obliged to report your accident to the insurance company, usually within 24 hours, they use your shaken state to attempt to gain information that could impact your claim amount.
Speak to your attorney first to get a good idea of the minimum amount to disclose, and absolutely never sign anything your insurance company tells you to without a lawyer present.
Your personal injury lawyer will also help you to negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company by using all of the evidence and negotiation skills at their disposal.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws
All auto collisions that happen on the roads of Florida are subject to Florida’s no-fault insurance laws.
This means that no matter whether it was you or another driver who was at fault for the accident, you always deal with your own insurance company to make a claim for compensation.
This means that, as per Florida Statue 627.7407, every driver has a legal responsibility to carry insurance. Every car driver must carry a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
How Much Will It Cost to Get the Support of an Experienced Lawyer From The Law Place?
Many people are put off from seeking proper legal counsel because of mistaken beliefs that it will cost too much to be worthwhile.
Here at The Law Place, we are happy to inform you that all of our personal injury cases take place on a no-win-no-fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay a single cent upfront, and any fees that are collected will only be done so out of your final settlement.
We are totally committed to honesty and integrity at our law firm, and as such, we can assure you that there will be no hidden fees or extra surprise costs involved. We are monitored by The State Bar Association to ensure an atmosphere of trust and transparency.
You may think that it is a compromise to take legal advice and counsel at no financial risk, but many of the lawyers at our law firm are AVVO-rated a perfected 10.0.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you have been in a vehicle involved in a sideswipe accident that occurred when merging or changing lanes, you could be entitled to a large sum of compensation – especially if you sustained a serious injury.
In order to maximize the amount of compensation you could be owed, you need top-notch legal advice and the counsel of an experienced and skilled attorney. All you have to do to access this is call our Florida office today to arrange a free consultation and free case evaluation. Every call will be at no obligation and will be completely confidential under the bounds of the attorney-client relationship.
For more information on how we can help you with your sideswipe accident case, give us a call today on the following contact number (941) 444-4444!