Your AAA Network

What to Do When You Get Sideswiped

Sideswipes might seem like minor collisions but they can cause major damage.


Sideswipe accidents are very common. After all, it just takes a momentary lapse in concentration or the slightest maneuver in the wrong direction for two cars to make contact. And though it is easy to brush off getting sideswiped as a minor inconvenience, they can also be the catalyst to a more serious collision. Be prepared.

What Is a Sideswipe Collision?

As the name implies, a sideswipe collision occurs when the sides of two vehicles make impact. This can happen as the two vehicles are traveling in the same direction or when they are traveling in opposite directions.

Sideswipes commonly occur when one vehicle starts moving into the other vehicle’s lane. This can be caused by a number of different reasons including distracted, reckless, drowsy, or drunk driving; drivers changing lanes without checking their blind spots; multiple drivers merging into the same lane at the same time; and skidding or hydroplaning on slippery roads.

A sideswipe collision could also occur with a parked car, if a driver gets too close to the side of the road and makes contact with a stationary or idle vehicle.

This might seem like a minor accident that would leave little car damage and few serious injuries, but if you have ever been sideswiped you know that is not always the case. While the initial contact may not be major, the impact of one car hitting another can be enough for either driver to lose control of their vehicle. It is very common for motorists to over-steer to try to regain control, which leads to swerving. Swerving can cause the driver to crash into other objects like guardrails, trees, light posts and other vehicles. Losing control of your car and swerving can also lead to rollover crashes.

30 DIY Car Care Projects.

Learn about which car care tasks you should take on and which you should leave to an AAR shop!

Download Now!

What to Do After a Sideswipe Accident

If you get sideswiped, you should treat it the same way you treat any other automobile crash. First, check to make sure all parties are uninjured. If medical assistance is needed, call 911 immediately. If your car is drivable, move it off the road to a safe place and put on your hazard lights. Call the police and file a report. Exchange information with the other driver including name, address, vehicle information, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers and insurance carrier information. You may also want to take photos of the car and location should you need them for later.

Sideswipe Car Damage

The damage caused by a side swipe collision depends on several factors, such as the size of the vehicles and the speed at which they were traveling. Generally, sideswipe damage includes dented driver- or passenger-side doors, scraped quarter panels and lost or damaged sideview mirrors. Of course, if the sideswipe led to head-on collision or another type of crash, damage would be much more significant.


Determining Sideswipe Collision Fault

In a sideswipe collision, the driver of the car that entered the other driver’s lane will be at fault. If so, they will be placed with all of the liability.

But because many of these accidents take place at high speeds on the highway, it can be difficult to determine fault if the two parties give conflicting accounts of the crash. There are scenarios in which the sideswiped vehicle driver was at least partly to blame. If it is found that both parties were partially at fault for the sideswipe accident, then they each would be responsible for half the cost of the damages.

Filing an Insurance Claim

Following the crash, call your insurance provider as soon as possible. They will ask a series of questions regarding your crash. Provide them with as many details of the incident as you can, including a walk-through of the events, as well as the date, time, parties involved and any injuries you incurred. The insurance company will request a copy of the police report as well. Soon after the incident is reported, an adjuster from the insurance company will come to see the car in person to give an estimate for the necessary repairs.

Your insurance carrier will investigate to determine the nature of the crash and the severity of the damage to the individuals and vehicles involved. They will take into account all of the information available including the police report as well as any photos or video. If there are differences between the two parties’ accounts, you may receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company.

If it is decided that you are the victim of a sideswipe collision, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance should cover your car damage and any medical costs. Almost all states require some sort of liability insurance.

If you are found to be at fault, then the liability is reversed. In that case, basic collision insurance, if carried, should cover the costs to repair your vehicle minus any deductible.

Have you ever been sideswiped? How was the insurance process? Tell us in the comments. 

Looking for better insurance rates? Check out AAA’s extensive auto insurance options.


Leave a Reply

You must log in to post a comment.

Enter Your Log In Credentials
Larger version of the image

Send this to a friend