| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accidents
Sideswipe Crashes and How to Recover Damages

Sideswipe crashes, though often less dramatic than head-on collisions, can still lead to significant damages and injuries. Understanding what a sideswipe is and how to navigate the aftermath, including recovering damages, is crucial for any driver.

What Is a Sideswipe?

A sideswipe occurs when the sides of two parallel vehicles touch or collide while moving in the same or opposite directions. These incidents often happen in lanes of heavy traffic, during merging, or when a car drifts out of its lane. Unlike other accidents, a sideswiped car may not suffer from immediate severe damage. However, the impact can lead to loss of vehicle control, leading to more significant accidents or causing secondary crashes.

Recovering Damages from a Sideswiped Car

When it comes to accidents of any type, California requires you to prove that the other party was negligent. In addition, you must show that their negligence resulted in your losses. 

While this may seem simple, California’s pure comparative negligence system complicates the process. This system allows plaintiffs to recover damages even if they are 99% at fault for their injuries. However, recovery is also reduced by that same percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff demands $100,000 in damages but is 75% at fault, they may only get $25,000. 

So, to recover damages, plaintiffs need to take extra care to gather the evidence necessary to show that the other party was negligent.

Proving the Other Driver’s Negligence

Proving negligence in a sideswipe accident involves establishing four essential factors: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. These factors form the foundation of a negligence claim, which is critical for recovering damages. Here’s how each factor plays a role in proving negligence.

Duty of care

The first step is to establish that the defendant (the other driver involved in the sideswipe accident) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (you or the person bringing the lawsuit). The duty is generally straightforward to prove since all drivers have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles safely. Drivers must follow traffic laws, pay attention to the road, and ensure their actions do not put other road users at risk.

Breach of duty

Once you establish a duty of care, the next step requires that the defendant breached this duty. In the case of a sideswipe accident, this may involve showing that the other driver was not following traffic laws at the time of the accident. 

Examples include failing to signal when changing lanes, speeding, driving under the influence, or distracted driving. Evidence such as eyewitness testimony, traffic camera footage, or accident reports are crucial in proving a breach of duty.


Proving causation means showing that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the accident and the plaintiff’s damages. Establishing causation is sometimes challenging, as it requires demonstrating a clear connection between the defendant’s actions and the crash. The connection may involve reconstructing the accident scene, using expert testimony, or providing detailed evidence of the accident unfolding.


Finally, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered actual damages as a result of the accident. Damages include physical injuries, property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To recover compensation for damages, you need documentation such as medical records, bills, repair estimates, and proof of lost wages to show that these damages occurred.

Sideswipe Collision FAQs

Still have questions about your sideswiped car accident? Here are the most frequently asked questions about these accidents we get from potential clients.

Does a Sideswipe Count as an Accident? 

Absolutely. A sideswipe is like any other traffic accident and necessitates a formal response, including reporting to the authorities and notifying insurance companies.

What Does It Mean When a Car Gets Sideswiped? 

A car gets sideswiped when it is hit on its side by another vehicle. The sideswipe usually happens when a car drifts out of its lane or attempts a lane change without looking. The damage often ranges from minor scrapes and dents to significant structural damage, depending on the force and angle of the impact.

Does Car Insurance Cover Sideswipe? 

Yes, car insurance typically covers sideswipe accidents, but the extent of the coverage depends on the policy details. It also depends on who is at fault in the accident. If you are at fault, you need collision coverage to be reimbursed by your insurance. Keep in mind that this usually includes a deductible. However, if the other driver is at fault, their liability insurance may cover some costs.

What to Do After Being Sideswiped?

If you get into a sideswipe collision, the most important thing is your safety. Pull over at a safe location and check yourself for injuries. Next, call 911 to report the accident and document as much as possible at the scene, including getting the other driver’s details. Finally, report the accident to your insurance company and consult with a car accident attorney.

Injured in a Sideswiped Car? Proving Negligence Can Be Challenging Alone

Proving negligence in a sideswipe accident is difficult, especially if you don’t have the support you need. Don’t let the stress overwhelm you. At Peerali Law, we handle every aspect of your case from day one so you can focus on healing. That includes gathering evidence, negotiating, and preparing your case for trial if necessary. Our boutique law firm in Los Angeles understands the challenges of recovery and is here to help.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation, or fill out our contact form. We’re here to answer any questions you have about your accident.

Author Photo

Kristopher earned his J.D. at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law where he was a member of the Review of Law and Social Justice honors law journal and was awarded several scholastic honors.

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