Determining fault in most auto accidents requires proving that someone was negligent. Sideswipe accidents are no exception. Whoever negligently causes a sideswipe accident will be legally responsible for compensating victims for their injuries and losses. In some cases, fault for an accident may be clear. In others, establishing liability may be more complex, especially when a fault is shared among two or more drivers.
At Butler Kahn, we are committed to holding at-fault parties accountable for the accidents and injuries they cause. If you were involved in a sideswipe accident at little to no fault of your own, our skilled legal team is ready to thoroughly investigate your case and build a solid legal claim on your behalf. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney.
Who Is At Fault in a Georgia Sideswipe Accident?
In a sideswipe accident, the driver who failed to stay in their lane is usually at fault for the collision. However, every case is unique.
What are Some Common Causes of Sideswipe Accidents?
Sideswipe accidents occur when two vehicles slide past each other in a collision. Though these accidents can occur while one vehicle is stationary, they normally arise when two vehicles pass each other too closely while traveling along a multi-lane road. Common causes of sideswipe accidents include:
- Distracted driving – Drivers distracted by things like cellphones and GPS may not notice vehicles in adjacent lanes. This increases the risk of a sideswipe accident if they make a sudden maneuver without checking their surroundings.
- Tailgating – When drivers follow other vehicles too closely, they may not have enough time to react when traffic slows down or stops. If they suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a vehicle in front of them, they may accidentally sideswipe adjacent vehicles.
- Unsafe lane changes – Drivers who do not check their surroundings or use their turn signals before changing lanes can also end up sideswiping adjacent vehicles.
- Driving under the influence – Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can impair judgment and coordination, making it difficult to safely maneuver a vehicle in traffic. Impaired drivers may swerve beyond their lane and sideswipe nearby vehicles.
- Poor weather conditions – Inclement weather, such as heavy rain or snow, can also contribute to sideswipe accidents by reducing visibility and traction. If a driver loses control of their vehicle or simply struggles to see those around them, they may cause a sideswipe accident or worse.
What Are the Lane-Change Laws in Georgia?
Many sideswipe accidents occur when someone changes lanes unsafely. To reduce the risk of these accidents, Georgia law requires that motorist drive “as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane” and take certain precautions when making a lane change. Some specific requirements of the lane-change statute include the following:
- No person shall change lanes “unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.”
- No person “shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal . . . to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is an opportunity to give such signal.”
- When changing lanes, required signals must be “given continuously for a time sufficient to alert” drivers traveling behind or toward the signaling vehicle.
How Is Fault Determined in a Sideswipe Accident?
In most sideswipe accidents, fault is determined by figuring out whether one or more of the individuals involved was negligent. Drivers who fail to take “reasonable care” to avoid causing an accident through their actions will be held liable for negligence and required to compensate victims for resulting injuries and losses. If the accident is caused by violating a law put in place specifically to keep road users safe, the responsible driver may also be held negligent per se. When determining fault in a sideswipe accident, responding police officers, insurance adjusters, attorneys, and courts will consider all sorts of evidence. Relevant evidence may include things like:
- Police accident reports
- Medical treatment and billing records
- Photographs and videos of the aftermath
- Footage from surveillance, traffic, and dash cameras
- Blood-alcohol content (BAC) and toxicology test results
- Testimony from reliable witnesses
- Testimony from doctors, traffic signal engineers, and accident reconstruction experts
- Cell phone, GPS, and traffic-signal logs
What Compensation is Available for My Injuries and Losses?
If you have been hurt in a sideswipe accident you did not cause, you may be legally entitled to compensation for the economic and noneconomic impact your injuries and losses have on your life. The injury attorneys at Butler Kahn can help you pursue compensation for things like:
- Medical and rehabilitation costs associated with the accident
- Lost wages if you cannot work while healing from your injuries
- Lowered earning capacity if your injuries result in long-term disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Lowered quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Cost of repairing or replacing damaged personal property
To learn more in a video presentation by Jeb Butler of Butler Kahn, see What Should I Be Compensated for After a Car Accident?
What If I Was Partly Responsible for a Sideswipe Accident?
If you were partially at fault in a sideswipe accident in Georgia, you might still be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries and losses. This is because Georgia courts weigh the “comparative negligence” of all involved drivers when determining liability in car accidents, meaning that injured parties may recover compensation so long as they did not contribute more than 50 percent to the cause of the accident. However, their compensation will be reduced proportionately to any amount they contributed less than 50 percent. To illustrate, a driver who sustained $100,000 in damages in a sideswipe accident but who also contributed 25 percent to the underlying cause would have their compensation reduced proportionately to $75,000.
What Is the Deadline for Filing My Sideswipe Accident Lawsuit?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations gives you just two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit seeking compensation from another driver. Late filings are nearly always dismissed in court. This will eliminate your right to seek legal compensation, as well as give the at-fault party and their insurers the upper hand in out-of-court settlement talks. To avoid these consequences, you should speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an auto accident. For a video presentation by Jeb Butler of Butler Kahn explaining statutes of limitations in Georgia, follow this link.
Contact a Georgia Sideswipe Accident Attorney Today
If you are reading this page because you or a loved one has been hurt in a sideswipe accident, we hope you are receiving the medical care that you need and are making a strong recovery. We hope the information on this page has been helpful. If you would like to talk with us about your situation, call us or contact us online. There is no charge to talk with us about your case.