Who Is at Fault in a Sideswipe Accident?
Most sideswipe accidents occur on highways when vehicles are going at fast speeds. Facts and statistics from the Insurance Information Institute (III) show that the 913 fatal sideswipe vehicle accidents in 2019 accounted for 2.7% of total fatal crashes in the US that year.
Who is liable in a sideswipe accident? Every case is different, and determining which parties are at fault is challenging. That’s why accident victims rely on personal injury lawyers. Skilled attorneys are experts in identifying liable parties and holding them accountable for the injuries and damages they have caused.
How Does a NY Sideswipe Crash Happen?
A sideswipe accident occurs when two vehicles are going in the same direction. The left side or right side of one vehicle collides with the opposite side of the other vehicle.
When on the road, drivers have a duty to keep their cars in their designated lane of travel. Drivers are only permitted to change lanes when it is safe to do so.
Most sideswipe accidents occur when drivers switch lanes or merge onto a new road without ensuring that it is safe to do so. The most common causes of sideswipe collisions are:
- Drifting into another lane because of distractions (like texting, changing the radio, or talking to other passengers)
- Not seeing vehicles in the driver’s blind spot
- Reckless actions that cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle
- Failure to check mirrors or use a turn signal before switching lanes (negligence)
- Poor visibility (often due to weather conditions like fog, rain, or snow)
- Not using headlights at night
- Cutting off other vehicles (accidentally or intentionally)
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Who Is at Fault When Changing Lanes?
If a driver switches lanes and collides with another motor vehicle, they are usually at fault. Drivers must check the area and ensure that there is enough space before merging into a new lane. That is why the driver who changes lanes is often held responsible for the car crash.
However, because of New York negligence laws like comparative negligence, the other driver can be partially responsible for the accident. Factors such as speeding, aggressive driving, and driving under the influence can make the other driver partially or entirely liable for the accident.
If you believe another driver is at fault or are unsure who is at fault in an improper lane change accident, let a New York accident attorney review your case. Lawyers can ascertain how much liability each party is accountable for and use that data to calculate appropriate settlements.
Who Is at Fault When Merging?
If a party merges into another lane of traffic, it is their responsibility to do so cautiously. Oncoming traffic has the right of way. Failing to yield when merging into a new road or lane is negligence, and, therefore, the merging vehicle is liable for the collision.
Sideswipes when merging occur in New York because the merging driver:
- Cut off another vehicle
- Hesitated when entering the new lane of travel
- Failed to make sure the area was clear before merging
- Did not use a turn signal when entering the new lane
- Drove too fast when merging
Exceptions to the Merging Rule
Keep in mind that a vehicle with the right of way can bear some responsibility for a sideswipe collision while merging. Non-merging drivers are expected to recognize when a lane is coming to an end and anticipate drivers moving into their traffic lane.
Non-merging drivers maintain partial liability for a crash if their actions restricted the other driver from safely entering the lane of travel. This includes:
- Purposely speeding or slowing down so the new vehicle cannot merge
- Tailgating vehicles to prevent other drivers from moving into traffic gaps
- Failing to slow down when a car is visibly merging ahead
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Who Is Liable When Both Vehicles Are Switching Lanes?
On highways with three or more lanes (such as Interstate 495 in New York), sideswipes occur when two vehicles switch lanes simultaneously. In these scenarios, neither car has the right of way, so both drivers share the fault for the accident. Sideswipe crashes often occur when one or both drivers:
- Try to cross multiple lanes at once
- Fail to check that all lanes are clear before merging
- Do not use their turn signals when switching lanes
- Weave between multiple lanes to get ahead of traffic
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NY Accident Attorneys Can Determine Fault in a Sideswipe Accident
Sideswipe accidents can lead to extensive physical injuries, as well as, hefty medical expenses. If you were injured and suffered damages due to a sideswipe crash, contact a New York car accident lawyer. Legal experts determine who is at fault for a sideswipe accident and help you receive fair compensation for your injuries and economic damages from the liable insurance companies.
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