Sideswipes were the third most common accident in 2019, preceded only by angle and rear-end collisions. These accidents are rampant in Georgia, and rates continue to soar as people engage in distracted driving behaviors like texting or talking on the phone.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a sideswipe car accident, you have the right to seek compensation. A Macon sideswipe accident lawyer can help you and your family recover from the accident by getting you the compensation you need to pay your medical bills and make up for lost income.
Call us today to get started on your case.
Sideswipes are Serious
Macon’s proximity to major highways and interstates including I-16, I-75, and I-475 puts it at greater risk for accidents, especially with more semi-trucks driving through the area than ever before.
Sideswipe (blind spot) accidents occur when the sides of two vehicles collide while traveling in the same or opposite direction. Sideswipes can happen between two moving vehicles or between one vehicle and a stationary object, such as a guardrail or fence post.
People often overlook these accidents, assuming they’re not as serious as rear-end or head-on collisions. However, sideswipe accidents are notorious for compounding damage after the initial collision. Drivers often lose control of their vehicles and spin out or crash into other cars. This can be disastrous for occupants in either vehicle, as the sides of a vehicle offer far less protection than the front and back.
Data obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that there were 878,000 sideswipe car accidents in the U.S. in 2019. Of those, 138,000 involved injuries, and 913 were fatal.
There were 41,368 sideswipe collisions in Georgia in 2020 alone, a statistic made more startling by the fact that fewer people were on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-nine people died and 6,851 were injured in sideswipe crashes that year.
Causes of Sideswipe Accidents
Sideswipe accidents can occur anytime, anywhere, although they are much more common in certain situations. Here are some of the most common causes of sideswipe accidents:
When a driver takes their eyes off the road for even a couple of seconds, they’re putting themselves and others at risk of crashing. Texting, taking calls, eating, and fiddling with the radio or air conditioning are all activities that take a driver’s attention away from the road, increasing the likelihood of their drifting out of the lane and causing a sideswipe collision.
A study conducted by NHTSA found that drivers who glanced away from the roadway for more than two seconds were twice as likely to crash. This heightened risk is due to the fact that drivers miss critical changes in the environment when they take their eyes off the road.
Many trucking companies place unrealistic expectations on drivers, encouraging or even forcing them to work beyond the federally mandated 12-hour shift. Truck drivers must go off duty after 12 hours of work; if they don’t, they’re at risk of driving under great fatigue.
Drowsy driving lowers safety inhibitions and has a negative effect on their ability to judge distances, speeds, and other requirements for safe driving.
People who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol are less likely to make safe, discriminatory decisions that are necessary for operating a vehicle safely. Drunk and drugged drivers often misjudge the size or struggle to stay in their lane, both of which can easily lead to their switching to another lane and causing a collision.
Every driver gets frustrated from time to time, but some allow their anger to influence the decisions they make on the road. Short tempers can lead to erratic driving behaviors commonly associated with road rage – illegal passing, speeding, not giving other drivers room, and running other drivers off the road.
Each of these behaviors causes sideswipe accidents. Due to their erratic nature when coupled with high speeds, these crashes can be particularly devastating.
Each year, drivers cause thousands of sideswipe accidents by failing to yield to oncoming traffic. Whether out of laziness or pure recklessness, these drivers fail to yield to the right of way and often end up injuring others. Failing to clear blind spots is another common cause of sideswipe accidents.
Steps to Follow After Being in a Sideswipe Accident in Macon
After being in an accident, follow these steps to protect your legal rights and best interests. If you have questions or wonder what else you can do at this point to recover physically and financially, contact our Macon sideswipe accident lawyer.
1. Move your vehicle to a safe location.
One collision often leads to another. Drivers don’t have enough time to brake or slow down, especially if the crash happened right in front of them. To reduce the risk of being hit by another vehicle or causing a pile-up, try and move your car to a safer location off of the road.
If your car is inoperable, turn on your hazards and wait for police and emergency crews to clear the scene before exiting the vehicle.
2. Check yourself and your passenger(s) for injuries.
If you’re in severe pain or see that you’ve been injured, call an ambulance immediately. Your health is the top priority; don’t try to hang back and collect evidence at the scene if you’ve been hurt.
After checking yourself, check your passengers for injuries. Again, if they are in pain, have visible wounds, or are unconscious, call an ambulance.
3. Call the police.
Police can help in even the most minor accidents, as they create reports which can be extremely beneficial for determining liability and forming the basis for a lawsuit.
You probably won’t have plans to pursue a lawsuit at the time of the crash, but calling the police will help keep your options open in case you do decide to take the at-fault party to court. Police officers can also settle disagreements and will make sure the other driver(s) don’t leave the scene before collecting necessary information.
Although police reports are inadmissible in court, they’re extremely helpful pieces of evidence for the insurance company, as they provide witness testimony and details of the crash.
4. Collect evidence at the scene.
You can help your case tremendously by gathering certain types of evidence for your Macon sideswipe accident lawyer to use. If you’re uninjured and it’s safe to do so, try to collect the following:
- Photographs of the scene, including any stop signs or traffic lights, weather conditions, and marks on the road.
- Photographs from multiple angles of any damage to your vehicle.
- Photographs of your and your passengers’ injuries.
- Witness contact information.
In addition to the items above, you should get the other driver’s name, contact information, license plate number, and insurance information.
5. Call your insurance company.
Georgia law requires drivers to notify their insurance company if they were involved in an accident that resulted in an injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more. Those are the legal requirements for reporting an accident, but it’s a good idea to notify your insurance even if you don’t think you were injured.
Many car accident-related injuries appear later, sometimes weeks or even months after an accident. It’ll look suspicious to your insurance company if you file a claim months after the accident, claiming for the first time that you were injured.
6. Speak with a Macon sideswipe accident lawyer.
Insurance companies are notorious for denying or devaluing claims. If you or a loved one were injured in a sideswipe car accident, you need maximum compensation to pay for your medical bills, lost income, and other expenses.
Your best bet for receiving maximum compensation is to hire a lawyer. Call our office today to speak with an attorney and learn how we’ll fight for you.
How Lane Assistance Technology Falls Short
Lane departure warning systems are a relatively new technology. They alert drivers who are drifting out of their lane with vibrations or visual or auditory warnings.
Designers and manufacturers of these systems applaud their ability to prevent wrecks, but their testimony is only part of the story. The truth is that these safety systems fall short in many areas, namely with drivers who are incapacitated and on roads with unclear or eroded markings.
Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that 34% of drivers who crashed after drifting from their lanes were sleeping or otherwise incapacitated, and as such would be highly unlikely to regain full control of their vehicle even with lane assistance technology installed in their vehicle.
Other drivers, the report found, have medical issues that may prevent them from correcting the lane drift quickly. The report went on to suggest that systems with only “transient corrective action” may not prevent lane departure and sideswipe crashes, and drivers who avoid these crashes may be at risk for other types of crashes when they do regain control of the vehicle. These findings led the IIHS to recommend installation of both lane assistance technology and in-vehicle driver monitoring systems to identify incapacitated drivers.
Common Injuries in Sideswipe Accidents
The sides of your car don’t have bumpers to protect against collisions. In sideswipe accidents, the door that was hit will often collapse, causing serious injuries. Because of the enormous force exerted on vehicles in collisions, it’s unlikely for just one person to be injured – more often, the driver and all passengers will suffer some kind of bodily harm.
These are some of the most common injuries in sideswipe collisions:
Brain and Head Injuries
When a car is struck on its side, the occupant’s head is thrown in the direction of impact. In the case of a sideswipe, that means their head goes in the direction of the door and window. The violent blow that the head sustains can cause a host of head and brain injuries, one of the most serious of which is traumatic brain injury (TBI).
TBIs have serious implications for victims. Treatment is often long and tedious, and there’s no guarantee that the victim will regain their functioning as it was before the accident. TBIs often cause memory loss, unconsciousness, agitation, mood changes, and many more effects.
The quick, violent back-and-forth motion exerted on the human body during a sideswipe accident can cause the tendons and ligaments in the neck to stretch or break, causing whiplash and other soft tissue injuries. Whiplash is common in all types of car accidents and can be extremely painful for victims.
In sideswipe accidents, vehicle occupants can be thrown forward into the steering wheel or dashboard or sideways into the door or window. The force in these accidents is enough to cause broken bones, or fractures. Broken arms, legs, collarbones, and ribs are commonly broken in sideswipe accidents.
Lacerations and Cuts
Accident scenes are full of flying debris. Metal car parts, glass, and personal belongings can all become detached or ripped off from the vehicle, fly through the air, and puncture the skin of people nearby.
Cuts and lacerations may not seem serious, but these injuries are easily infected and can result in further damage.
Call a Macon Sideswipe Accident Lawyer Today
Some people don’t consider sideswipe accidents as serious as rear-end and head-on collisions, but the fact is that these accidents can share the same kind and severity of injuries.
If you or a loved one were injured in a sideswipe accident in Macon, you need the help of a knowledgeable, experienced attorney to help you through this time and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for more information and to schedule your case consultation.