Sideswipe collisions happen for various reasons, but these seemingly minor car accidents can cause serious enough injuries that victims may need a car accident lawyer to pay for their medical bills.
For example, one man was allegedly drunk and sideswiped another vehicle, killing one person and injuring a seven-year-old child. He was arraigned on charges of involuntary manslaughter and maiming, and faces a criminal trial for his actions. The man also faces charges for driving while intoxicated and for possession of alcohol while under 21 years of age, both misdemeanor charges. The drunk driver also hit another vehicle, injuring an adult and a three-year-old child.
In another case, a 54-year-old woman sideswiped a barrier on a highway, and died from her injuries. The police are investigating the cause of that crash, but believe the woman may have had a medical emergency.
When a vehicle sideswipes something, it delivers a glancing blow with the side of the car, often at a high velocity. The vehicle could sideswipe another vehicle, a barrier, or even a tree or pole. Sideswipe crashes are often fatal if the hit is hard enough. A sideswipe could push another vehicle off the road, rip out fencing and barriers, or even knock down poles if the vehicle travels into the other object with enough force.
The injuries you could suffer in a sideswipe accident vary depending on the severity of the accident. Injuries might include:
- Bumps, bruises, scratches, and cuts.
- Strains, sprains, and other soft-tissue injuries, including pulled muscles.
- Simple and compound fractures. A compound fracture happens when a broken bone breaks the skin.
- Head, shoulder, and neck injuries. Sometimes these injuries take hours or days to manifest.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions. Concussions and other microtraumas often lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) later in life. Doctors cannot definitively diagnose CTE until after death, but they do look for specific symptoms. You are more at risk for CTE if you’ve suffered multiple concussions or even smaller traumas to your head.
Any open wounds, including wounds from surgery, could become infected, which prolongs the recovery process. Additionally, if you have an autoimmune disease, diabetes, or are taking medication that lowers your white blood cell count, your recovery time could be longer. Your attorney should consider these factors when negotiating with the insurance company for a fair and reasonable settlement.
If your case should go to trial, you should provide evidence of these issues if your accident injuries take longer to heal, exacerbate existing conditions, or require long-term medical care due to complications. The court must see why you believe your recovery from certain injuries might take longer than average, or might require additional medical care.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of your injuries, you could recover three types of damages, including special, general, and punitive damages.
Economic damages, also known as special damages, are for the money you need to pay out of pocket, or that might cost you a fixed amount, such as lost wages.
Special damages include:
- Past medical expenses for injuries suffered in the sideswipe crash.
- Future medical expenses for follow-up appointments, additional surgeries, or even physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological therapy you might require in the upcoming months or years. Often, patients with long-term injuries suffer from depression or anxiety. If the accident was particularly severe or otherwise emotionally disturbing, an accident victim might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Past lost wages.
- Future lost wages for the time you expect to miss from work. If you cannot go back to work in your field and cannot do work that is comparable in pay, you might expect to obtain lost wages for the difference in your pay.
- The replacement or repair of your personal property.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Always be sure to keep invoices and bills for any expense related to the accident, even if your insurance company pays the bill. You will need them to show how much you spent, and how much the insurance company spent on your behalf. Special damages are an attempt to make you whole again.
Non-economic damages, often called general damages, are also meant to make you whole again. The defendant pays non-economic damages for items that do not have a specific cost. Generally, a court will award non-economic damages if doctors expect your injuries to be long-term, permanent, or if the doctor expects you to die from your injuries.
General damages might include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of use of a body part or function;
- Disfigurement; and
Many of these damages require expert testimony to establish. If you lost a loved one in a sideswipe accident, the court might award damages for loss of companionship or loss of consortium.
What to Do if You Are in a Sideswipe Accident
If you can move without causing more bodily damage to yourself, check on the other drivers, while also calling first responders. If more than one person needs an ambulance, let them know that multiple people have injuries.
Take photos of the accident scene. Show the entire accident scene from all angles. Take some close-up pictures of the damage to the vehicles, any skid marks, and property damage. Procure contact information, including the name, address, and phone number for each driver and passenger. Additionally, procure other drivers’ registration and insurance information.
Procure the contact information for all witnesses. Ask each witness what he or she saw and make notes as to what each person says. Contact your insurance company to advise it that you have been in an accident, the location of the accident, and the name of your sideswipe accident lawyer. Do not give the insurance company any other information before speaking with your attorney, as it could be used to try to deny your claim, or to offer you a low-ball settlement.
Be sure to ask the police how and where to get a copy of the police report. Finally, get medical attention, even if you do not believe that you suffered major injuries. Some injuries, even severe ones, may not manifest until hours or days later.
Finally, call a car accident lawyer, who can help you with all of the above tasks, and even take many of them off of your shoulders so you can recover from your injuries.