Being involved in any kind of car accident can be devastating. In addition to dealing with the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you may have sustained, you are likely wondering who was at fault for the crash.
You may also be wondering who will pay for the damages. Massachusetts is a modified no-fault state, which means that your own insurance will pay for your expenses regardless of who caused the accident. However, if you have suffered serious injuries and the other driver’s negligence led to the crash, you may be eligible to recover damages from the other driver’s insurance policy.
Proving negligence and fault can be challenging in a sideswipe auto accident. This is because these types of accidents often catch a driver by surprise and set off a complex chain reaction of collisions.
Types of Side-Impact Car Accidents
There are two main ways in which a vehicle can strike the side of another vehicle. These are known as side-impact collisions.
The first is commonly known as a “T-bone” collision. This is when the front or rear of one car hits the side of another. It’s well-known that T-bone collisions can seriously injure the occupants of the struck car.
The second is a sideswipe collision. This is when the two vehicles are parallel to one another, and the sides of both cars collide. One example of a sideswipe would be when a driver changes lanes without looking and hits a car in the adjacent lane.
Sideswipe Car Accident Dangers
Sideswipe accidents are generally considered less dangerous than T-bone collisions. They usually result in only minor damage to the involved cars.
However, the danger in a sideswipe car accident lies less in the impact itself and more in the dangerous chain of events that can follow the initial crash. Sideswipes often cause drivers to swerve and lose control, sometimes causing the vehicle to spin out. A car in a spin can lead to secondary collisions and an increased risk of a serious injury, such as a brain injury, nerve damage, or bone fracture.
Vehicles with a higher center of gravity, such as trucks and SUVs, are prone to rolling over when they turn sharply at high speed. Rollovers are extremely dangerous and can result in spinal trauma or even death.
Determining Fault in A Sideswipe Car Accident
There isn’t a cut-and-dried answer to the question of who is at fault in a sideswipe auto accident. Determining liability depends on the circumstances of the collision. Let’s look at some examples to see how fault could be determined.
Unsafe Lane Change
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 89, § 4A states that a driver must not change lanes without first determining that the lane change can be made safely. If a driver didn’t check his blind spots before merging, it could be determined that he made an unsafe lane change. This could render him at fault in a sideswipe collision.
A hallmark of drunk or impaired driving is an inability to drive in a straight line. Drunk drivers often swerve in and out of their lane. If the impaired driver sideswipes another car, he would most likely be considered at fault.
Driving while distracted can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, and in Massachusetts, the number of distracted crashes is on the rise. Massachusetts legislators have responded with the Safe Driving Law, which bans the use of handheld electronics while driving. If a driver was sending, typing, or reading a text message when he sideswiped another car, he could be found at fault for the collision.
Failing to Signal
Massachusetts drivers are required by law to use turn signals prior to changing lanes or making a turn. In the event that a driver fails to use the proper signal, he could be found liable for a sideswipe collision.
Help from A Worcester Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a sideswipe car accident, you may be in pain, unable to work, and saddled with medical expenses. The last thing you need to worry about is determining who was at fault for the accident.
At the law office of Worcester personal injury attorney Peter Ventura, we help car crash victims like you get the compensation they deserve for their medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional suffering. We have defended the rights of injury victims for over 30 years.