What Happens if You Get Sideswiped?
Did you recently get hurt in a Miami car accident because another driver sideswiped your vehicle? Nearly all sideswipe accidents are entirely preventable, and many of them result in severe damage and bodily injury. If you’re struggling to deal with the aftermath of a sideswipe accident in Florida, you might wonder what happens next. Luckily, you might have legal options for pursuing compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses from a sideswipe accident. Reach out to a Miami car accident lawyer.
In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Florida sideswipe accidents and the steps you can take to protect your rights. We’ll go over the laws and insurance requirements that apply to sideswipe wrecks, what you can expect after a sideswipe accident, and what you can do to get money for your losses. With a firm understanding of your legal rights and the steps you should follow, you can heal from your injuries and move forward with your life after a sideswipe accident.
Facts and Statistics About Sideswipe Accidents
A sideswipe accident occurs when the broad side of one vehicle scrapes or swipes against the broad side of another vehicle traveling in a parallel direction. Sideswipe accidents can happen for many reasons, but driver negligence is often a factor. Drivers are more likely to sideswipe others when they drift into neighboring traffic lanes due to inattention, intoxication, fatigue, or judgment errors.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 622,222 reported sideswipe accidents throughout the United States in one recent year. Sideswipe accidents collectively accounted for nearly 12 percent of all vehicle accidents nationwide that year. As a result of all 622,222 sideswipe accidents, more than 100,000 people suffered reported injuries, and almost 1,000 people died nationwide.
While sideswipe accidents can be relatively minor compared to other car accidents, these wrecks can still cause severe injuries and property damage.
Florida law contains specific provisions to reduce the risk of sideswipe accidents, including:
- Driving entirely within a single lane of traffic. Florida drivers on roadways with designated traffic lanes must drive as nearly as practicable within a single lane. Also, drivers must not change lanes unless and until they determine they can do so safely.
- Passing vehicles going in the opposite direction. Drivers going in opposite directions must pass each other to the right. When drivers pass others on roads that aren’t wide enough for more than one lane of traffic in each direction, each driver must allow the other at least one-half of the space on the main roadway.
- Overtaking and passing other vehicles. Drivers overtaking and passing other cars going in the same direction must use their turn signals, pass to the left at a safe distance, and refrain from returning to the right side of the road until they are clear of other vehicles. Furthermore, drivers overtaking and passing bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles must leave at least three feet of passing distance or slow down and remain at a safe distance until it is possible to pass with at least three feet of clearance.
- Overtaking and passing other vehicles on the right. A Florida driver can only overtake and pass others on the right when the other vehicle makes or prepares to make a left turn on a one-way road that is wide enough for two lanes or a two-way street wide enough for two lanes of traffic going in each direction.
- Limitations on overtaking, passing, and changing lanes. Florida drivers may not drive to the left side of the centerline of a roadway to overtake and pass other vehicles unless they can do so without interfering with the operation of other vehicles traveling in the same or the opposite direction.
Top Causes of Sideswipe Accidents in Miami
Sideswipe accidents can occur due to various factors, including driver error, poor road conditions, and improper vehicle design or maintenance.
Let’s explore some common causes of sideswipe accidents that occur in Miami:
- Distracted driving. Drivers who engage in distracted driving behaviors, such as texting while driving, are more likely to lose focus on the road and drift into neighboring lanes, causing sideswipe accidents.
- Driving under the influence. Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol have impaired judgment, depth perception, and response time, meaning they are more likely to cause sideswipe accidents when they fail to notice other vehicles or react quickly enough to avoid collisions.
- Driver fatigue. Similar to alcohol or certain drugs, extreme fatigue can impair drivers’ reaction time and judgment, making them more likely to cause sideswipe accidents when they drift into other lanes or react too slowly to changes in traffic.
- Driving too fast for conditions. Speeding or driving too fast for conditions gives drivers less time and space to react in traffic, increasing their risk of accidental, high-speed sideswipe accidents.
- Failure to check blind spots. Drivers who fail to monitor their blind spots or check their surroundings before merging or changing lanes can cause sideswipe accidents if they don’t notice other vehicles in their blind spots.
- Failure to yield the right of way. Drivers who fail to yield the right of way when they merge, turn, or change lanes often cause sideswipe accidents with other motorists with the legal right of way.
- Running red lights or stop signs. Running red lights or stop signs can cause sideswipe accidents when drivers traveling in opposite directions scrape against one another in the middle of intersections.
- Improper turning or merging. When drivers engage in improper turning, merging, or lane change maneuvers, their erratic behavior is more likely to confuse other drivers and increase the risk of sideswipe wrecks.
- Driver inexperience. Teen drivers and other motorists with limited experience are more likely to make mistakes, such as failing to check their blind spots or to yield the right of way, which often lead to sideswipe accidents.
- Defective car parts. Sometimes, defective car parts, like faulty brakes or airbags, cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and collide with others in unexpected sideswipe accidents.
- Poorly maintained car parts. If drivers fail to keep their vehicles in good condition, poor maintenance can also contribute to mechanical failure, increasing the risk of preventable sideswipe collisions.
- Poor road conditions. Drivers in areas with poor road conditions, such as large potholes or missing traffic signage, are more likely to lose control of their vehicles and collide with other vehicles in sideswipe accidents.
Common Sideswipe Accident Injuries
Sideswipe crashes can result in significant injury to vehicle occupants. In a sideswipe accident, the force of the impact often causes the vehicles to rotate or spin away from each other, which can throw occupants around the inside of each vehicle. In some cases, substantial impacts can shatter side windows, spewing glass shards toward occupants.
Common injuries that result from sideswipe accidents include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Bone fractures
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bruises and burns
- Internal injuries
- Seat belt injuries
- Airbag injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Emotional injuries
The injuries from a sideswipe accident often have immediate and long-term effects on crash victims. Many suffer from painful symptoms that require costly medical care and time away from work. Speaking to a lawyer after a sideswipe accident is crucial to pursue the money you need to cover these losses while you heal.
Compensation for Sideswipe Accident Injuries
Florida follows a no-fault car insurance rule regarding auto insurance, meaning you will file a claim with your insurance provider following a crash to pursue compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
All Florida drivers must carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage, which pays for 80 percent of your medical expenses and 60 percent of your income losses after an accident, up to the limits of your policy. PIP insurance is no-fault coverage, which covers your losses no matter who causes an accident.
Depending on the circumstances of an accident, the value of your crash-related losses might exceed the limits of your PIP coverage, and you might need to seek compensation from additional sources.
An attorney can identify all possible sources of compensation to help you seek the financial relief you need. For instance, your health insurance provider might cover some of your medical costs after you exhaust your PIP benefits. And if another driver is at fault for the sideswipe accident, you could file a third-party claim against their insurance policy in some circumstances.
Florida law allows you to step outside of the no-fault system and file a claim or lawsuit against another driver if you have a severe crash injury, meaning one that results in permanent or significant disability, scarring, or disfigurement.
If you have a severe accident-related injury after a Florida sideswipe wreck, you could file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to pursue full compensation for the following losses:
- Hospital bills and other medical costs you incur because of the accident
- Incidental costs, such as out-of-pocket travel costs for doctor’s appointments
- Lost wages from any time you miss at work due to your accident injuries
- Losses in your lifetime earning capacity due to permanent crash injuries
- The subjective cost of your pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life
- The costs of repairing damage to your vehicle or replacing a totaled vehicle
Proving Your Sideswipe Accident Case
Before you can seek compensation through a third-party claim or lawsuit for injuries from a Miami sideswipe accident, your attorney must be able to prove that your injuries meet the legal threshold for a severe injury and that the other party is liable.
To protect your legal rights and lay a strong foundation for your personal injury claim after a sideswipe wreck:
- Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations closely
- Attend all follow-up medical appointments as necessary
- Document the details of your healing journey in a pain diary
- Gather photos and physical evidence from the accident scene
- Ask the other driver for their contact and insurance details
- Politely ask eyewitnesses for statements and contact info
- Hang on to your medical bills and other crash-related documents
- Watch what you say to the insurance company about the crash
- Avoid sharing information or photos online while your case is pending
- Contact a trusted car accident attorney before you speak to others
When you go to an experienced sideswipe accident lawyer after a Miami car crash, they can identify, gather, and preserve the following evidence to support your case:
- Video footage of the collision from helmet cams, dash cams, or traffic cameras
- Photos of vehicle wreckage, visible injuries, and the surrounding accident scene
- The official police accident report and any relevant toxicology test results
- Statements from reliable eyewitnesses who saw the sideswipe collision occur
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists
- The other driver’s cell phone, GPS, and vehicle maintenance records
Time Limits for Sideswipe Accident Lawsuits in Florida
If you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit after a Florida sideswipe accident, you should know that you have only four years from the date of the accident to sue. This might sound like more than enough time, but those four years often go by faster than you would expect.
Investigating an accident, gathering crucial evidence, and building a robust case can take weeks or months. Your attorney needs as much time as possible to give you the best chance at seeking maximum compensation for your injuries and losses. Reach out a Miami personal injury lawyer.
If you wait too long to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident, the other side will likely ask the court to dismiss your case, and the court will most likely agree. If this happens, you effectively lose your right to seek compensation for your crash-related losses in civil court. That’s why you need a knowledgeable injury lawyer early on in your case who can protect your rights and handle your case efficiently.