A picture of traffic with the words, "sideswipe, lane change, and merge auto accidents."

It happens in a blink of an eye. You are driving home from work, listening to your favorite song on the radio, and then something hits the side of your car. It drives you into the lane next to you, going right through it and into the ditch. Thankfully, only you and the driver that hit the side of your car were involved in the accident.

Shaken up, you and the other driver call the police, exchange information, and wait for them to arrive. The entire time, you may be wondering, who is liable for the accident? The car accident attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. shed some light on who is responsible for a sideswipe accident to help our clients better prepare themselves for getting the compensation they deserve.

What Is a Sideswipe Accident?

A sideswipe car accident is when two cars traveling parallel to one another, either in the same or in opposite directions, collide with one another. This type of accident is also known as a merging accident or a lane change collision. It often happens in intersections, parking lots, highways, or neighborhood roadways, where two cars can change lanes. The seriousness of these accidents can vary from minor to serious injuries.

What Are the Common Causes of Sideswipe Car Accidents?

Sideswipe car accidents are often caused by one driver moving out of their lane unsafely and hitting the car next to them. They can be caused by the following:

  • Failing to check blind spots before merging.
  • Failing to properly change lanes.
  • Drifting out of a lane while distracted.
  • Hydroplaning.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Road rage.
  • Driving while drowsy or falling asleep behind the wheel.

Single Driver Changing Lanes

It is legal for a driver to change lanes to pass a slower vehicle, avoid obstacles, or prepare to turn or exit the interstate. A driver making a lane change may be the at-fault party if they did the following:

  • Failed to leave enough room when changing lanes.
  • Failed to check their blind spots.
  • Failed to use their turn signal.
  • Changed lanes while speeding.
  • Intentionally or unintentionally cut another vehicle off.

However, sometimes the vehicle already in the pre-established lane causes the accident. This can be caused by the following behaviors:

  • Accelerating when they see another vehicle trying to get into their lane.
  • Decelerating if a driver is attempting to change lanes behind them.
  • Not paying attention to other drivers on the road.

Two Drivers Switch Lanes

A shot of cars in traffic in a big city.

Sometimes, two drivers may try to switch lanes at the same time which, if they are not paying attention, causes them to hit each other. Other times, one of the drivers may overreact and swerve into the lane next to them, into another vehicle beside them, or a ditch or shoulder. 

These accidents often occur due to the drivers of both vehicles failing to do the following:

  • Failing to look at vehicles two or more lanes away before they change lanes.
  • Trying to cross more than one lane of traffic at once.
  • Zigzagging in and out of multiple lanes.

Driver Merges

Sometimes, a driver will find themselves in a lane that is about to end, meaning that they have to merge in with other traffic. Drivers who are in the standard driving lanes always have the right away, meaning the merging vehicle has to merge. In this kind of accident, a collision will occur if the merging driver either:

  • Moves too fast or too slow during the merge.
  • Cuts off another vehicle while attempting to merge.
  • Hesitates while merging.
  • Doesn’t look for other vehicles when they merge.
  • Doesn’t use their turn signal.

It is important to note that non-merging drivers may hold partial fault if they fail to adjust to the merging traffic. For example, they speed up to intentionally prevent another driver from merging.

How Is Fault Determined After a Merge Accident?

Finding fault is the first step in seeking compensation after your accident for injuries and damages. Texas state law requires all drivers to stay in a single lane while traveling. They may change lanes when it is safe to do so and must use their vehicle’s turn signals to show their intent to other drivers. 

In sideswipe accidents, the at-fault driver is usually the one who crosses into the other lane and hits the car next to them who is legally in their lane. This is also true if a driver sideswipes a parked car on a city road or neighborhood.

However, rarely do drivers agree on what happened. In most cases, police officers will conduct an investigation of the scene of the accident along with the state of both vehicles to get a clear idea of what happened. They then check their findings against the statements given by the drivers and any witnesses to the accident.

For the best result in determining the fault of an accident, you will want to have a car accident attorney on your side. The attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. can help you show the fault of the driver by gathering the following evidence:

  • Statements from witnesses to the accident.
  • Video surveillance of the scene of the accident (if one is available).
  • Physical evidence from the collision scene.
  • The police report.

What Is Needed to Show Another Driver’s Negligence in a Lane Change Accident?

A picture of an accident close up.

Proving that someone acted negligently is the basis for proving fault during an accident. Texas has strict legal guidelines for one’s negligence. A driver can only be considered negligent if the following is true of them:

  • They Owed You a Duty of Care: For example, all drivers on the road owe a duty of care to drive under the legal guidelines set forth by the state and safely to help avoid accidents.
  • The Other Driver Violated That Duty of Care: The driver failed to follow the law by texting while they were driving.
  • The Violation of Duty Led to the Sideswipe Accident: Since the other driver was distracted by their phone, they failed to check their mirrors before merging into the other lane, causing them to run into you.
  • The Accident Led to Your Injuries: The sideswipe accident caused you to sustain injuries, such as whiplash and head trauma.

What Damages Can I Recover After a Sideswipe Accident?

If you have been involved in an accident with a negligent driver, you may be able to seek compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Personal property damage
  • Pain and suffering

Have You or a Loved One Been in a Sideswipe Accident?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a sideswipe accident, you will want the experienced attorneys of the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. on your side. Our attorneys will help you gather the evidence necessary to prove the other driver’s negligence and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our car accident attorneys today for more information on our services or to schedule a free no-obligation consultation to go over the facts of your case. 

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