Who Is at Fault in a Sideswipe Accident in California?

Need Consultancy? Request A Free Quote

Want to get in touch with us? We’d love to hear from you. Get an expert opinion today.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

A commonly cited form of accident in California is a sideswipe accident, in which one vehicle scrapes along the side of another vehicle. If you or a loved one was recently involved in this type of collision, you probably have many legal questions concerning liability for the incident and recovering your losses.

Determining liability for your recent accident is the first step toward recovering compensation for your damages. For example, when a sideswipe accident happens, the driver who failed to maintain a single lane of traffic is at fault for the incident. While this may sound straightforward, many people who experience this type of accident have trouble proving fault for their damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer is the best resource to consult in this situation, and you should have some idea of what to expect from your case as it unfolds.

Who is at fault in a sideswipe accident?

How Do Sideswipe Accidents Happen?

Sideswipe accidents can occur anywhere with multiple lanes of traffic or lanes of traffic next to cars parked on the side of the road. Therefore, it’s possible for a driver to sideswipe another vehicle driving in the lane next to them or a parked car next to their traffic lane. It’s also possible for sideswipe accidents to involve vehicles traveling in opposite lanes of traffic, but these incidents tend to result in severe damages to both parties due to the opposing momentums of the two vehicles.

Discerning the exact cause of a sideswipe accident is essential for holding the at-fault party accountable for the damages they cause. Some of the most commonly cited causes of sideswipe accidents in California include:

  • Distracted driving. If a driver isn’t paying attention while operating their vehicle, they may drift into another lane, potentially sideswiping another vehicle. Distracted driving is the leading cause of all traffic accidents in the US.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. Impaired driving is dangerous and illegal. An impaired driver will experience diminished motor function and would be likely to sideswipe other vehicles, both those parked alongside the road and vehicles moving in adjacent lanes.
  • Aggressive driving. Drivers who engage in deliberately reckless maneuvers put themselves and others at risk. For example, if a driver attempts to aggressively cut another driver off, they may cause the other driver to swerve and sideswipe another vehicle.
  • Vehicle malfunctions. If a driver notices any mechanical issues with their vehicle, they have a legal duty to have the problem fixed as soon as possible. For example, a flat tire, damaging steering mechanism, or other mechanical issues may cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and sideswipe another vehicle.

Determining fault for a sideswipe accident is typically straightforward. If a driver causes this type of accident due to their failure to maintain a single lane, they are responsible for the resulting damages. However, some drivers may attempt to flee the scene of a sideswipe accident, especially when they hit parked vehicles. When this occurs, the owner of the struck vehicle should report the incident as soon as possible to the police and consult an attorney. Law enforcement and the driver’s legal counsel can help them identify and locate the driver responsible for the hit-and-run.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

One of the biggest mistakes an injured driver can make after a sideswipe accident is assuming they can handle the subsequent legal proceedings alone. While fault for your recent sideswipe accident might seem clear, the legal mechanisms you will need to navigate are more complex than you may realize, and you could face unforeseen complications that you do not know how to address on your own. The right attorney will make a tremendous impact on your case. They will help you figure out who is responsible for your recent accident and assist you in calculating the damages you can recover from a successful insurance claim or personal injury suit against the driver responsible for the incident. It’s common for plaintiffs in civil claims to learn their cases are worth much more than they initially expected once they have legal counsel on their side.


Q: How Do You Prove Fault for a Sideswipe Accident? A: Ideally, the driver responsible for a sideswipe accident will stop and remain at the crash scene, taking responsibility for their actions. If the other driver contests liability, your attorney can help you prove their fault in numerous ways, from securing traffic camera footage to obtaining eyewitness statements. Q: What Does Sideswipe Damage Look Like? A: Sideswipe accidents typically result in severe scratching along the side of the struck vehicle. The sideswipe can destroy the rearview mirror on the struck side of the vehicle, severely damage the body panels on that side, and possibly cause the vehicle’s side-impact airbags to deploy. Q: How Do Insurance Companies Decide Who Is at Fault in a Sideswipe Accident? A: Insurance companies will manage investigations for every claim they receive. If you intend to file an insurance claim for a recent sideswipe accident, you should assume that the insurer will want to review all available evidence and gather additional evidence on their own. Typically, insurers will simply strive to prove which driver failed to maintain a single lane of traffic to assign liability. Q: What Happens in a Side Impact Collision? A: A side-impact collision is far more damaging than a sideswipe accident. Commonly called “T-bone” accidents, a side-impact collision can result in severe damage to the struck vehicle and devastating injuries to the occupants of the struck vehicle. Sideswipe accidents can still involve substantial damages, but they are typically far less severe than side-impact accidents. A Kreeger Law Firm Sacramento car accident attorney has years of experience representing California clients in a wide range of vehicle accident claims, including those involving sideswipe accidents. We know how frustrating it can be to realize that another driver’s negligence is the cause of your injuries and other damages, and we can help you ensure accountability for this type of incident. If you are ready to discuss your legal options after a sideswipe accident, contact the Kreeger Law Firm and schedule a consultation.