Sideswipe accidents are surprisingly common. They happen when two cars drive too closely to one another and impact the side of the vehicle. These accidents generally just leave damage to the vehicle. However, at higher speeds and under certain road conditions, they can lead to very serious injuries. Sideswipes though are legally challenging. As there is no straightforward at-fault party, the accident usually has to be investigated to determine liability.
What Are Sideswipe Accidents?
A sideswipe accident is when two vehicles collide along the sides of the vehicle. This usually happens to vehicles going the same direction but can also happen with vehicles going opposite directions. The biggest risk with sideswipe accidents is that they can lead to much larger accidents. For example, imagine one vehicle is driving outside of its lane. They sideswipe another vehicle along the front end. This leads the second vehicle to drive outside of their lane, colliding with another vehicle. This can also make determining liability in sideswipe accidents very challenging.
What Causes Sideswipe Accidents?
Sideswipe accidents are very common, so there are a lot of things that can cause them. Most of these factors come down to driver error. However, some are caused by unavoidable externalities. The most common causes of sideswipe accidents include:
● Reckless or aggressive driving
● Driving under the influence, driving while drowsy, or driving while texting
● Speeding and rushing to merge
● Failure to use a turn signal or ensure the merge lane is clear
● Under or over steering curves
● Changing speed while drivers change lanes
● Failure to notice a vehicle switching lanes
● Too narrow of roadways or bridges
● Lack of care when parking or around parked vehicles
● Wet or slick road conditions leading to hydroplaning vehicles
● Lack of visibility
As you can see, there are several causes of sideswipe accidents. In many of these cases, it’s clear who the liable party would be. For example, if a drunk driver sideswipes you, it is their fault. However, it gets trickier when it comes to poor weather or road conditions.
What Is Liability?
Liability is a legal concept predicated on the idea that everyone has a duty of care. When that duty is breached and that causes damages, the person who breached their duty is liable for the damages. For example, if you are driving drunk you are in breach of your duty to follow the law and drive sober. Any damages you cause as a result of your drunk driving, you are responsible for financially. To prove liability, you have to prove:
● There was a duty of care;
● That duty was breached;
● The breach of the duty caused damages
This sounds straightforward but can be very tricky in the state of Florida.
How Does Liability Work In Florida?
Florida is often called a no-fault state. However, that is just for PIP coverage. Florida uses a comparative fault system. This splits the fault among drivers by percentages. For example, if you were speeding and a car sideswiped you, the state of Florida would consider both of you responsible for the accident. They would then sign you each a percentage. That percentage would impact your settlement figure. Say the total value of the accident is $10,000. If you are to blame for 30% of the sideswipe accident, you will only receive 70% of that value or $7,000. This gets even more complicated when you start adding multiple drivers. That is why you must work with a skilled accident attorney.