Determining Liability for a Sideswipe Auto Accident

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on March 14, 2022  in Car Accident News. Updated on May 25, 2023

side of a carSideswipe accidents may result in minimal damage to a vehicle, but these collisions could lead to serious injuries that may not be immediately obvious after the crash. Pursuing compensation for these injuries may be more complex because determining liability for these types of accidents could be complicated.

If you need help filing a claim for a sideswipe accident, you should call our New Jersey car crash lawyers to learn more about your legal options.

We offer a free consultation and there is no obligation to hire us.


A sideswipe collision is an accident that occurs when two vehicles traveling in the same direction collide. Either the vehicle on the left impacts the right side of a parallel vehicle or vice versa. There are also a fair number of opposite-direction sideswipe collisions.

The severity of the crash often depends on the part of the vehicle impacted by the collision. The more severe the damage the more severe the victim’s injuries are likely to be. However, significant injuries could occur even if the vehicles involved sustained minor damage.

For example, a sideswipe where the front right end of a vehicle impacts the left rear end of another vehicle may cause the impacted vehicle’s driver to lose control and spin out, causing a serious accident that could involve multiple cars. Victims of these crashes could hit fixed objects like:

  • Barrels
  • Road signs
  • Trees
  • Guardrails
  • Light poles
  • Utility polices
  • Concrete barriers

Sideswipe accidents may be especially dangerous on highways when vehicles are traveling at high speed and there are multiple lanes of traffic.


There are a variety of reasons sideswipe collisions occur. Most of them are caused by negligent drivers who fail to check blind spots before changing lanes or merging. Some other negligent actions that cause sideswipe accidents include:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Distracted driving (texting and driving, looking at the stereo, etc.)
  • Aggressive driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Racing
  • Rushing to try to merge
  • Speeding
  • Failure to use a turn signal
  • Failing to ensure there is enough room to switch lanes
  • Drowsy driving
  • Oversteering on a steep curve
  • Understeering on a steep curve
  • Speeding up when another driver is changing lanes
  • Slowing down as a driver changes lanes behind you
  • Refusing to let another driver change lanes
  • Crossing multiple lanes
  • Constantly switching lanes
  • Failing to notice a car two lanes over is changing lanes into the middle lane

Sometimes sideswipe accidents are a result of bad weather conditions. For example, a vehicle that hydroplanes on a wet road could collide with the side of another. The same goes for icy roads or vehicles caught on black ice. However, if weather conditions are not ideal, drivers have a heightened duty of care to others to act in a manner that should help lower the risk of a crash.


Yes, more than one party may be liable for a sideswipe accident. One common example of this is when two drivers merge into the same lane at the same time. If neither driver properly checked to make sure the lane was clear before merging into it, they could both be liable for the crash.

If you are partially at fault for a sideswipe accident, you may still be able to recover compensation for two reasons:

  • New Jersey is a no-fault state. Even if you are partially at fault for a crash you can still file a first-party claim on your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy to have your medical bills and some other economic damages covered. You may have to pay a deductible, though.
  • New Jersey’s comparative negligence law allows for an injury victim to recover at least partial compensation so long as he or she is not more than 50 percent at fault for the crash.

In cases involving multiple vehicles, liability is still likely to fall only to the driver whose negligent actions set off the chain of events that ultimately caused your injuries.

For example, a driver who sideswipes another vehicle and causes that vehicle to crash into you is likely going to be the liable party.


Proving someone else is liable for your damages comes down to proving his or her negligence is what caused the crash that resulted in your injuries. To do this you must be able to gather the necessary evidence and build a strong case for compensation.

Some of the evidence you may be able to use to prove fault for the crash includes:

You should immediately seek medical attention for your injuries to protect your health and to help link them to the crash.

No matter how minor you may think the accident is, you should always call the police. You need to have the crash officially documented. You also do not want to give the insurance company reason to suspect you were injured by something besides the crash. Without a police report, you may have a harder time proving you were in a crash.

The other driver may offer cash but there is no way of knowing if it will be enough to cover your damages. What if your injuries are worse than you thought and the money you received runs out? The insurance company is likely to deny liability for your damages.


Determining liability for a sideswipe accident may be complex. That is why you should speak to a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible to help you pursue the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Our attorneys have decades of experience. We do not charge you anything up front and we only get paid if you do.

No upfront fees. No risks. Call (800) 518-0508

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