Sometimes, you may not even see a sideswipe collision coming. One moment, you think a vehicle has positioned itself next to you, waiting for you to pass by before changing lanes or merging.
The next moment, the vehicle slips into your lane, causing severe damage to your vehicle and, in many cases, serious injury to the occupants in that vehicle. You may have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries following a sideswipe collision in Tampa caused by another driver’s negligence.
Sideswipe Collisions: Defined
Sideswipe collisions occur when one vehicle “swipes” another on the side. Sideswipe collisions occur when a vehicle swipes into a driver traveling the same direction, as with two vehicles traveling in different lanes of the same road, or when a vehicle crosses over the center line and swipes the side of a vehicle traveling the opposite direction.
In many cases, however, vehicles that cross the center line will cause more head-on collisions than sideswipe collisions, particularly if the other driver does not have time or space to maneuver away from a potential collision.
Why Do Sideswipe Collisions Occur in Tampa?
Sideswipe collisions can come out of nowhere and may happen anytime, from traveling down a residential street to heading down the highway.
#1. Merging Incidents
Merging involves carefully matching speed and moving into the appropriate traffic lane. Unfortunately, some drivers struggle heavily with proper merging behaviors. They may have a hard time lining their vehicles up correctly, or they may misjudge the speed of the vehicles in the other lane. Failing to look before merging can also increase the risk of a sideswipe collision, particularly if a larger vehicle obscures the presence of a smaller vehicle in the driver’s blind spot.
Merging incidents occur most frequently on Tampa highways, including I-275 and I-4, but may occur at any point on a Tampa road.
#2. Changing Lanes
Changing lanes, like merging, requires careful attention to everything going on around the driver and near the vehicle. Changing lanes requires the driver to pay particular attention to the presence of smaller vehicles that might creep into their blind spot before they commit to changing lanes. Unfortunately, when they get ready to change lanes, some drivers may fail to notice the presence of another vehicle nearby, raising the risk of a sideswipe collision.
#3. Driver Distraction
Distracted driving includes a range of behaviors that might take the driver’s hands, eyes, or attention away from the most pressing task: driving. Unfortunately, many of Tampa’s drivers may suffer from high rates of distraction that can increase the risk of a sideswipe collision. Drivers who look down at something else, from a cell phone to food or drink in the vehicle, cannot pay attention to the other things around them. They may also allow their vehicles to drift into the lane next to them, causing a sideswipe collision with a nearby vehicle.
Tampa sees a high amount of tourist traffic each year, with around 24.5 million visitors coming to the area annually. Those visitors may need to keep their eyes on GPS devices as they try to navigate the streets of Tampa, or they might catch themselves checking arrival times or confirming addresses while they try to navigate. Unfortunately, that distraction can raise the risk of a sideswipe collision.
#4. Driver Inebriation
Driving while intoxicated increases the risk of many accident types, including sideswipe collisions. Inebriated drivers often have difficulty reasonably controlling their vehicles, especially on Tampa’s often-crowded roads.
Intoxicated drivers may suffer from tunnel vision that makes it incredibly difficult to change lanes or merge. They may also have a higher rate of moving out of their assigned lanes of traffic, which may cause them to sideswipe another vehicle. Inebriated drivers may increase during the later hours or during heavy tourist times, including spring break or summer.
#5. Aggressive Driving
Aggressive drivers often weave in and out of traffic with little regard for everything else taking place around them. Some aggressive drivers may travel at high rates of speed to decrease the time they have to spend on the road or show their frustration with the other things they have encountered on the road. Aggressive drivers, however, may not have enough time to look at the road around them, including the drivers in the lanes beside them, which may increase the risk of a sideswipe collision.
#6. Drowsy Drivers
Drowsy driving can, in many cases, mirror the symptoms of intoxication. Drowsy drivers may have a hard time keeping their attention and focus on the road in front of them, causing them to drift sideways into another lane of traffic. In some cases, drowsy drivers may drift off completely while behind the wheel. The car will continue traveling forward, which may cause it to drift into another lane due to the driver’s overall lack of control.
Because Tampa sees such a high amount of tourist traffic, it may also see a higher incidence of drowsy drivers. Tourists often choose to ignore their normal sleep schedules while on vacation. They may engage in more activities than they would normally enjoy, causing them to stay out later. In addition, some tourists may arrive late in the evening, past when they would typically head to bed. Their bodies naturally exist at a lower point during that time, which may increase the risk that they will grow drowsy or fall asleep while driving.
The Aftermath of a Sideswipe Collision in Tampa: What Comes Next?
A sideswipe collision often causes serious damage to the side of the vehicle where the accident occurred. Often, you may have a hard time exiting the vehicle, particularly if the collision occurred close to the door. To deal effectively with the aftermath of a sideswipe collision, you may need to exit your vehicle from another door. However, you should not exit your vehicle on your own if you feel you may have sustained severe injuries, including back and neck injuries. When in doubt, wait for help to arrive.
#1. Always report a sideswipe collision to the police.
Sideswipe collisions often cause significant property damage and, in many cases, severe injuries. Frequently, vehicles do not have as much protection at the sides as they do at the front and rear. As a result, many victims of sideswipe collisions, particularly those on the side of the vehicle where the collision occurred, have a high rate of serious injuries.
Do not try to walk away from a sideswipe collision without reporting the incident to the police. If you try to handle an accident claim without first going through the police, you may have a tough time establishing exactly when the accident occurred or even clearly showing the other driver’s involvement. On the other hand, an accident report can serve as an incredibly valuable document as you file an injury claim.
Drivers who cause sideswipe collisions may explain why they would like to avoid reporting the accident to the police. Tourists may not want to deal with the police while on vacation, and inebriated or drowsy drivers may not want that report on their records. However, after a collision, reporting the accident can help prevent you from missing out on the compensation you may deserve.
#2. Assess everyone in the vehicle, even people on the opposite side from the collision, for injury.
While the passengers on the side of the vehicle where the sideswipe collision occurred have the greatest risk of suffering severe injuries, passengers anywhere in a vehicle involved in a collision can suffer injuries, including back and neck injuries. Always carefully evaluate everyone for injury before getting out of the vehicle.
Regardless of whether you think you have sustained a severe injury in the accident, you may want to pursue medical attention. A medical care provider can give you a better idea of all injuries you may have sustained in the accident and what treatment you need to maximize your recovery. Furthermore, that medical report will establish when your injuries took place and tie them back to the accident, making it easier for you to file an injury claim later.
Once you have seen a medical care professional, follow the recommendations issued by that professional as you recover from your injuries. You may find that your medical needs temporarily limit the activities you can engage in, including your ability to participate in sports and other activities or to take care of your work.
However, suppose you ignore the instructions given by your medical provider. You may inadvertently worsen your injuries, which could mean that you have to spend longer in recovery-or even that you have larger, longer-term limitations related to your injuries. If you have questions about your care or your next steps, talk to your medical care provider.
#3. Collect basic evidence from the accident scene.
While medical care should always top your priority list after a collision, if you did not sustain severe injuries, you might want to collect some evidence from the accident scene that may later support your car accident claim.
You may want to:
- Collect the other driver’s license and insurance information
- Photograph the other driver’s vehicle, including its make, model, and license plate
- Photograph the position of the two vehicles
- Take a picture of the damage to your vehicle
- Capture any injuries you may have suffered in the collision
Never put yourself in danger to collect any evidence related to a collision. Do not step out into traffic or take other steps that could cause you to suffer additional injury.
#4. Have an attorney look over your claim if you suffered any injuries in the accident or if you find yourself struggling to establish the other driver’s liability for the incident.
Sideswipe collisions can, in some cases, make it very easy to determine who caused the accident: you may have photos from the accident scene, for example, that clearly show that the other driver crossed into your lane, causing the collision.
On the other hand, if you mistakenly moved your vehicle before taking those photos, you may find it much more difficult to establish liability for the accident.
Depending on where the collision occurred, the other driver may attempt to claim that you committed the negligent action that led to the accident. As a result, you may have difficulty establishing that you deserve compensation for your injuries. You may need a lawyer to help look over your accident claim to help establish liability.
In addition, any time you suffer injuries in a car accident, you may benefit from having a lawyer on your side. Insurance companies may not work in your favor, particularly as they assess the compensation you deserve after a serious accident. They may, in many cases, try to pressure you to accept a settlement offer that does not reflect the compensation you deserve.
Accepting that offer could leave you without the funds you need to cover your medical costs or manage other expenses related to your recovery. By talking to a lawyer, on the other hand, you can get a better idea of the full compensation you deserve and how to best pursue it, which may make you feel more comfortable managing your claim and going after the compensation you really deserve for your sideswipe collision injuries.
Contact a Tampa Sideswipe Collision Lawyer After Your Accident
If you suffered injuries in a Tampa sideswipe collision, do not try to handle your accident claim on your own. Instead, contact a Tampa sideswipe collision attorney to learn more about your rights and receive comprehensive legal support related to your claim.