A side-swipe accident happens when the side of one car glances off another vehicle or a stationary object like a street sign or light post. Fault depends on the specific facts surrounding the accident. It can be harder to determine fault in a side-swipe accident than in some other types of car accidents.
Side-swipe accidents can cause devastating effects, setting off a chain reaction or propelling a car into an oncoming traffic lane. Likewise, side-swipe accidents can cause spinning, rollovers, and fatalities. But because fault may be hard to determine, the insurance company may try to hold you partly responsible for what happened.
To protect your rights, it is important to talk to a car accident law firm in Atlanta, Georgia.
What to Do After a Side-Swipe Accident in Georgia
In the aftermath of a side-swipe accident in Georgia, you may be confused and unsure of what your next steps should be. It is imperative that you take action to protect your future insurance and civil claims. Here are the initial steps you should take following a side-swipe accident in Georgia:
Contact Police and Emergency Responders
Law enforcement officials will arrive at the accident scene and file their initial crash report that could prove valuable in your case against the liable party. Even in instances where the accident may be considered “minor,” contacting law enforcement officials gives you an advantage over the defense from the start.
While you wait for emergency responders and law enforcement officials to arrive at the scene of the side-swipe accident, do what you can to gather evidence and document the scene. You might collect the contact information of any witnesses who might have seen the collision, take photos of the property and vehicle damages, take photos of your injuries, and exchange contact information with the individual who side-swiped you.
Once emergency responders arrive at the accident scene, it is important that you obtain a medical evaluation. Although you might initially feel OK in the aftermath of your side-swipe accident, your injuries could prove more severe if left untreated. If you do not obtain a medical evaluation immediately after the accident, the defense may also attempt to argue that your injuries were not caused by the side-swipe accident, but were instead caused in another way.
Call an Attorney
After you have been cleared medically, your next step should be to call your side-swipe accident lawyer for help. The sooner you get an attorney working on your case, the more likely you will be able to gather evidence needed to prove liability in your case.
How do Side-Swipe Accidents Happen?
A side-swipe accident is one of two types of accidents in which a car is hit from the side. In the other type (a “T-bone” accident), one car rams directly into the side of another, forming a “T” shape.
In a side-swipe accident, the cars are facing more or less the same way. One car of them simply brushes past or bumps into the side of the other, causing damage along the doors, side mirrors, and quarter panels. Side-swipe accidents can also occur if a car scrapes past an object that is not moving, including a parked car, mailbox, or another object.
Many side-swipe accidents happen during lane changes. There are several reasons for this, and some of the most common include:
- A driver changing lanes without checking blind spots
- A driver weaving in and out of traffic and changing lanes without signaling
- Two drivers trying to move into a center lane at the same time
- A driver speeding up or following two closely and not allowing other vehicles to merge
Side-swipes also happen when a driver swerves into another lane of traffic to avoid an accident, an object on the road, or another hazard. These types of side-swipe accidents are more likely to happen if a driver does not have enough time to react, such as if a driver is distracted, tailgating, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Loss of Control
Finally, side-swipes can occur when a driver loses control of a vehicle. This can happen because of excessive speed, drinking and driving, defective tires, or impact with another vehicle.
Why Is It Hard to Tell Who Is at Fault in Side-Swipe Accidents?
Fault is important in all Georgia car accident claims because the insurance company that covers the driver at fault is the one who must pay for the accident. Usually, one or more drivers are at fault because they broke the law or were careless. This is also known as “negligence.” side-swipe accidents tend to have a more complex chain of events than many other accidents, and that can make it harder to figure out who is at fault.
For example, suppose the driver in front of you slams on the brakes because there is a tire in the middle of the road. You don’t have time to react, so you veer into the next lane to avoid rear-ending the car in front of you. In the process, you side-swipe a third car.
The driver who braked might be at fault if he or she was distracted and should have seen the tire sooner. You might be at fault if you were speeding or weren’t maintaining a safe following distance. Or you both might be partly at fault—it just depends on the facts.
Georgia’s Shared Fault Laws
Under Georgia law, you can recover money for your injuries as long as you were less than 50 percent at fault. However, if the accident is partly your fault, you won’t receive as much money as if the accident was totally caused by someone else.
In side-swipe accidents, it’s common for the insurance company to say you are partly to blame in order to pay out the least amount of money possible. A good lawyer can do an independent investigation of your accident and build a case to show the insurance company exactly what happened and that you are not to blame.
How Long do You Have to File a Side-Swipe Accident Claim?
If you are hoping to file a side-swipe accident insurance claim or civil lawsuit, it is important that you do so in a timely manner. Under the Georgia statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including side-swipe accidents, injury victims will only have a maximum of two years to get their claim filed.
Many people assume that the two-year statute of limitation begins from the date of your accident, but this may not always be the case. If you hope to ensure that the statute of limitations does not bar you from financial recovery, make sure you get an experienced side side-swipe accident attorney on your case as soon as possible.
How do Side-Swipe Accident Insurance Claims Work?
Georgia is a fault-based state for car accidents. No matter what type of collision you were involved in when someone else is responsible for causing your accident, you have the opportunity to file a claim with the liable party’s insurance provider.
Dealing with the insurance company is not going to be easy. The majority of insurance companies have tactics up their sleeve in the hopes of reducing the amount of compensation they are required to pay a claimant. The insurance company might accuse you of causing the accident, they might delay the processing of your claim, or the insurance adjuster may even attempt to get you to settle for far less than your claim is worth.
Unfortunately, many side-swipe accident victims find themselves being taken advantage of in their greatest time of need. To avoid this issue in your case, have your side-swipe accident lawyer negotiate with the insurer on your behalf. This way, you can be sure that liability is being evaluated accurately in your case.
What Damages Can You Recover Through the Insurance Company?
When you are filing a claim with the insurance company, you might assume that you are going to recover all of your losses through your insurance settlement. Unfortunately, the claims process is not that simple. Insurance policies only cover certain types of damages.
For example, the liable party in your case may have purchased bodily injury liability coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. Bodily injury liability coverage protects parties from financial liability for a victim’s medical expenses. If the defendant only purchased the minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance coverage under Georgia law, which is currently at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, you may have additional medical expenses the insurance company is not obligated to cover.
Generally, insurance settlements and side-swipe accident claims will only cover the costs of purchasing a new vehicle, making vehicle repairs, and covering the costs of your side-swipe accident-related medical expenses. But remember, the amount of compensation you will be awarded through your insurance settlement will be limited by the amount of coverage the defendant has purchased.
Recoverable Damages in a Side-Swipe Accident Lawsuit
When you have an injured and side-swipe accident, you have the right to be compensated for all of your losses. You can be repaid for not only your financial or economic damages but also the ways your life has been impacted by the accident and your resulting injuries.
Some examples of economic damages you might be able to recover in your side-swipe accident claim include:
- The expenses related to household maintenance
- The costs of hiring childcare providers
- Your extra insurance fees when your insurer increases your premiums
- All of your hospital bills, medical equipment fees, and other medical expenses
- Your loss of income and ability to earn a living in the future
Some examples of non-economic damages you could be entitled to as part of your side-swipe accident claim include:
- The physical pain you have experienced due to your injuries
- The physical and emotional trauma associated with the accident
- Your difficulty in being able to maintain relationships with your closest friends and family
- No longer being able to enjoy events, activities, or interests you were passionate about prior to the accident
- The embarrassment you feel due to disfiguring injuries or skin scarring
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers know how to get you money for the injuries you suffer in a side-swipe accident. We never charge a fee unless we win you money. Let us give you a free, no-obligation consultation and explain how we can help you.
Call us or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.