What Are Your Legal Rights in a Sideswiped Accident?

When two vehicles collide, the impact can be severe and cause significant injuries and damage. Since most vehicles lack ample side protection, an impact from the side during sideswipe accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries.

Most sideswipe accidents in Florida happen because of unsafe lane changes. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV), over 8,400 crashes happened in 2020 because of improper passing.

After a sideswipe collision in Florida, victims may be left wondering what went wrong and what they could have done to avoid the collision. While laws regarding automobile accidents in Florida can be confusing, the at-fault driver in a sideswipe collision is usually the one who was driving recklessly. 

Accident victims may need to submit a personal injury claim to seek the compensation they deserve in case of a sideswipe accident. A seasoned Boynton Beach car accident lawyer can help victims seek financial compensation for their losses in case of a sideswipe accident. Read on to understand more about the legal rights that sideswiped accident victims have in Florida.

What Is a Sideswipe Accident?

Law enforcement and insurance companies often categorize accidents depending on the impact angle. Sideswipe accidents happen when a vehicle’s side or corner hits another car’s side. When two or more vehicles crash while traveling in the same direction, one or both cars may lose control and crash into nearby obstacles or vehicles.

Most vehicles’ front and back seats serve as the primary crumple zones. The only thing that protects the driver and passengers on the sides is the car’s thin exterior. Anyone sitting inside the vehicle can experience greater force during a sideswipe collision than in other types of accidents, such as rear-end or head-on collisions.

Top Causes of Sideswipe Collisions

The circumstances under which a sideswipe collision takes place are varied. Some of the most typical examples are as follows:

  • Failure to Check Blind Spots

Driving tests require drivers to know about their blind spots and the importance of being aware of them. However, some drivers forget this crucial part when they drive.

Blind spots refer to areas that the side and rear-view mirrors do not cover, such as the rear-right and rear-left of the car. Drivers should glance over their shoulders before changing lanes to see if there are any obstacles in their blind spots. 

Some newer vehicle models feature sensors that will sound an alarm if the driver starts to drift into an already-occupied lane, but this is far from standard. Accidents involving sideswipe movements are often caused by drivers who fail to check blind spots.

  • Distracted Driving

It’s common for drivers to veer into another lane when not paying attention. Activities such as texting, eating, or daydreaming should be avoided while driving.

  • Merging

By Florida law, drivers merging into a lane from another must give way to traffic in the lane. Drivers frequently mistime their movement and sideswipe vehicles already in the lane when trying to merge into oncoming traffic.

  • Driving Aggressively

Some sideswipe collisions are caused due to road rage. A driver may be held criminally accountable for an accident they cause if they intentionally use their vehicle to hit another moving vehicle.

  • Avoiding Collisions

A driver may attempt evasive actions and move into the adjacent lane to prevent another collision. If there is another car in that next lane, it can cause a sideswipe collision. 

The worst-case scenario in sideswipe accidents is when one or more of the involved vehicles spin out of control. The force from the impact can throw a vehicle into oncoming traffic, starting a chain reaction. When this happens, there is a high potential for severe injuries and property damage.

Unsafe Lane Changes in Florida

Florida has various legal protections and laws that help prevent sideswipe accidents. According to local state laws, drivers shouldn’t pass on the left unless the lane is visible. The law also states that there needs to be sufficient room to pass without blocking traffic flow. It is the driver’s responsibility to check for adequate passing space before changing lanes. 

Drivers must also use their turning signals when changing lanes or passing another vehicle in Florida. It warns of a driver’s intentions and helps prevent sideswipe collisions by giving oncoming cars time to react.

Liability in Florida Sideswipe Accidents

Victims of sideswipe accidents in Boynton Beach, Florida, may be left wondering who is responsible for their incurred damages, such as medical bills. The driver who made an unsafe lane change is usually found at fault in a sideswipe collision. Moving a vehicle from one lane to another is prohibited unless the driver determines it is safe to do so per Florida Statute 316.089.

Establishing liability in Florida sideswipe accidents can be challenging. Disputes might arise while trying to determine who was at fault in the accident. Having an attorney after a sideswipe collision can help those involved in the accident show and prove who was at fault. 

Experienced Boynton Beach car accident lawyers can collaborate with the authorities to determine the extent of the damage to the vehicles and use that information to build a case. Witness testimony is another tool an attorney can use to determine who is to blame for your accident.

Comparative Negligence Laws

A defendant may not always be solely at fault in a sideswipe collision. Fortunately, sideswipe accident victims can still seek compensation, even if they are partially responsible for the crash.

Automobile accident cases in Florida are decided according to the modified comparative negligence rule. A plaintiff could still win compensation even if they share some guilt for an accident under this approach because the fault is assigned on a percentage basis. 

However, the compensation claimants are awarded may be lowered if courts find that they contributed to the accident. An excellent example of this scenario is a case where the claimant was texting while driving when the other vehicle made an unsafe lane change without indication.

What Damages Can Someone Recover for Sideswipe Accidents in Florida?

Victims may pursue different types of compensation from varying at-fault parties. The specifics of the sideswipe collision and its outcomes experienced will determine which compensation categories apply to the unique case. Severe scenarios are often awarded higher compensation amounts. 

If sideswipe accident victims need assistance identifying which damages apply to their case, they should schedule a consultation with a car accident attorney for legal advice.

Below are the common types of damages in sideswipe accidents:

  • Property damage
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity

If a person loses their life during a sideswipe accident, their family can sue the negligent party for wrongful death. Wrongful death claims help reimburse lost household income, compensate for the loss of consortium or companionship, and cover last expenses such as burials and funerals.

Contact a Boynton Beach Car Accident Attorney

Sideswipe accident victims or their loved ones should contact a seasoned auto accident attorney to preserve their legal rights after the crash. Our team of dedicated lawyers at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers has extensive experience handling sideswipe accidents in Florida and is ready to help.

For more information about car accidents in Florida, reach us at (561) 800-8000 or fill out the online contact form on our website to schedule a free initial consultation. 

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