It is usually more difficult to determine fault in a sideswipe accident than other types of car accidents, such as a T-bone accident. Where the vehicles end up after the accident and the location and extent of damage offer clues to investigators as to how the accident was caused. However, the physical evidence at the scene of a sideswipe accident does not often paint a clear picture of how the accident was caused.
The accounts from the drivers involved and witnesses will usually have the greatest impact on how fault is determined after a sideswipe collision. Relying on witness statements and driver statements can be tricky though. These statements do not always line up and can frequently contradict each other, especially when each party is trying to put the blame on the other.
The Role Of Negligence
Negligence will play a big factor in determining who was at fault for a car accident. Authorities will look to see if either party was negligent in their actions, leading to the crash.
The four key factors to look at when determining if a driver was responsible for an accident are:
- Duty of Care: The at-fault driver had a duty of care to the other vehicle or vehicles in the accident.
- Negligence: There was a breach of the responsible driver’s duty of care leading to the collision.
- Cause: The negligent or purposeful actions of the at-fault driver caused the accident.
- Damages: There was injury, financial loss, or other damage suffered by the victim.
The driver that initially changed lanes is usually considered to be at fault in a sideswipe accident. This is because drivers are expected to make sure that the lane they are merging into is clear of any other vehicles before moving over. Drivers who failed to ensure a clear path before changing lanes were negligent in the accident and can be held responsible.
Investigators will use the physical evidence from the scene along with driver and witness accounts to determine what ultimately caused the accident. Any driver that was found to have violated traffic regulations, resulting in the accident, will usually be held liable for the accident. If both parties disobeyed traffic laws, liability may be assigned based on the percentage of fault each party had.