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What to Do When You Get Sideswiped

A small crash doesn't have to mean a big headache.


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

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 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.

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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 sideswipe 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 a head-on collision or another type of crash, the damage would be much more significant.


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.


Your insurance carrier will investigate to determine the nature of the crash, the severity of the damage and liability. 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 you are not at fault, 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.

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.

    • Andrew S.

      Hi Christopher, insurance would cover a sideswipe the same way it would cover any other sort of crash. You can read more about no-fault here.

  • LINDA G.

    If u are sideswiped or your car is scratched and there is no car to fault as they took off what do u do?


    I was sideswiped by someone changing lanes. I thought the damage was only cosmetic, until I tried to open the window, and the window fell off the track. Make sure you check all components of your car after even a minor sideswipe!

    • Andrew S.

      Hi Douglas, if the driver leaves the scene, record any information you have on the car (make/model/color) and call the police immediately. You should still follow the same steps regarding filing a claim with your insurance company. Thanks for reading!

  • DAVID K.

    everyone should know what you have explained-what would be helpful is what you should do if the party that is at fault takes off!

    • Andrew S.

      Hi David, if the driver leaves the scene, record any information you have on the car (make/model/color) and call the police immediately. Then follow the same steps regarding filing a claim with your insurance company. Thanks for reading!


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