Side-Swipe Car Accidents and Who Is at Fault

Sideswipe car accidents are an all-too-common occurrence on the crowded roads and highways of Las Vegas. If you have recently been injured in a sideswipe accident, you may be grappling with serious injuries, property damage, financial difficulties, and a variety of legal questions. If your accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, you could potentially recover financial compensation for these and other damages by filing a personal injury claim.

At the Cottle Firm, our dedicated Las Vegas car accident lawyers help our clients fight for the financial compensation they need and deserve. In some cases, this includes damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other losses related to the accident and subsequent injuries. Contact the Cottle Firm today at 702-722-6111 to learn more about your legal rights after a sideswipe car accident in a free consultation.

What Is a Side-Swipe Car Accident?

Sideswipes are often confused for T-bone accidents, but this is a different type of crash. A T-bone occurs when one vehicle crashes head-on into the side of another vehicle. Conversely, a sideswipe involves an impact between the sides of both vehicles. In sideswipes, the vehicles are typically traveling parallel to each other and are usually moving in the same direction, but sideswipes can occur between two vehicles traveling in opposite directions as well.

Common Causes of Sideswipes

Sideswipe accidents are often the result of negligence by one of the drivers involved in the crash. However, fault is not always immediately clear and is typically only determined after a thorough investigation. If you have questions about who was at fault in your sideswipe accident, you can learn more by contacting the Cottle Firm for a review of your case.

Distracted Driving

To drive safely, our full attention must be on the road and our surroundings at all times. Distractions like cell phones, food, and drinks divert our attention away from what’s in front of us and put us at a higher risk of getting into an accident. Distracted drivers not only endanger themselves, they endanger all other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians they encounter while distracted.

Distracted driving is a form of negligence that often leads to preventable accidents, including sideswipes. Sideswipe accidents often occur when one driver drifts from their lane into the adjacent lane, striking another vehicle. Distractions can easily cause a driver to lose focus on the road and drift out of their lane.

Lane Merging Issues

Many sideswipe accidents involve one driver merging from a smaller road onto a highway and striking another vehicle already on the main road. Lane merging requires a great deal of focus and care, and all drivers have a responsibility to merge as safely as possible. When a sideswipe occurs due to a driving error by a merging driver, the other driver could have grounds for a personal injury claim.

Blind Spots and Improper Lane Changes

Blind spot errors and improper lane changes are common factors in sideswipe accidents. Drivers who are unaware of their surroundings or who fail to check for other vehicles in their blind spots may inadvertently collide with other vehicles in neighboring lanes. Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

The most common form of improper lane changing is when a driver suddenly moves into another lane without using their turn signal. To safely switch lanes, drivers must first signal beforehand and check their mirrors and blind spots to make sure there are no other vehicles. Failure to do so constitutes negligence and could result in liability if an accident occurs.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs both cognitive and motor skills, greatly increasing the risk of causing an accident. Drunk drivers often cause sideswipe accidents either by physically losing control of their vehicle and swerving into another lane or losing mental focus on the road and drifting into another lane. 

Even though we are all aware of the dangers of drunk driving, it is still troublingly common. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 13,384 people were killed in alcohol-impaired accidents in 2021. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a drunk driver, you may have grounds for legal action.

Common Injuries in Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe accidents are often considered less severe than other types of collisions. In many sideswipe accidents, both drivers walk away with minor injuries, but major property damage. 

However, sideswipe accidents can still cause severe injuries, especially when they occur at high speeds. Serious injuries are also more likely if one of the drivers is knocked off the road or into a lane facing oncoming traffic.


Whiplash is a common car accident injury that occurs when the neck forcefully and quickly moves back and forth. This force is generated during the harsh impact of two vehicles colliding. According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is most common in rear-end car accidents. However, it also often occurs during sideswipes.

Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • More severe pain when moving the neck
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Chronic headaches that start at the base of the skull
  • Pain and tenderness in the arms, shoulder, or upper back
  • Numbness and tingling sensations in the arms
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Most cases of whiplash are relatively minor and heal with a few weeks of treatment. However, whiplash can also result in chronic neck pain, limited range of motion, and other chronic health conditions. If the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, the costs of treatment could be recovered as damages in a personal injury claim.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries are common in sideswipes and car accidents, but they are not always immediately apparent. Many types of soft tissue injuries can have a delayed onset of symptoms, occurring hours or even days after the crash. This is why seeking prompt medical care is always essential following a car accident.

Soft tissue injuries include all injuries to ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The most common soft tissue injuries suffered in sideswipes and other types of car accidents include sprains, strains, and contusions. 

Head and Spinal Injuries

Head and spinal injuries are potential outcomes of sideswipe accidents, particularly if the impact is forceful. Even seemingly minor collisions can cause concussions that affect cognitive function and spinal injuries that may lead to long-term complications. Victims may suffer pain, limited mobility, and the need for extensive and ongoing medical care. 

Determining Fault in Sideswipes

All motorists are legally obligated to drive as safely as possible at all times. When one driver fails to do so and causes an accident, other drivers who suffer injuries may have grounds for legal action. However, determining fault in sideswipe accidents is not always straightforward. 

Fault is usually determined through a police investigation, as well as an investigation by a personal injury lawyer. If you are unsure who was at fault for your sideswipe accident, consider having your case evaluated by one of the experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyers at the Cottle Firm.

Who Is At Fault When Merging?

In sideswipe accidents that involve one driver merging into another lane, the merging driver is often at fault, as the driver in the main lane has the right of way. Merging drivers are obligated to yield the right of way and wait for an opening before they merge. If they fail to do so, they will be considered at fault and could be held liable for damages.

However, there are situations in which the non-merging driver could be considered at fault. This could be the case if they were negligent in a way that contributed to the accident. 

Determining Fault in Lange-Changing Sideswipes

In sideswipe accidents involving a lane change, the driver changing lanes is typically at fault. All motorists have a legal duty to make sure the coast is clear before changing lanes. If the lane-changing driver fails to change lanes when it is not safe to do so and strikes another vehicle, they will likely be considered at fault. 

Depending on the circumstances of the crash, the non-lane-changing driver could also be considered partially at fault. These drivers also have a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and could be deemed partially at fault for failing to do so, such as by speeding up when the lane-changing driver is switching lanes or engaging in distracted driving behaviors like texting or talking on the phone.

Comparative Negligence in Nevada Car Accidents

Nevada evaluates fault for car accidents and other personal injury cases based on the standard of comparative negligence. The court reviews all circumstances of the case to determine how much each party involved contributed to the crash. This means that both drivers in a car accident could share fault for the crash.

Under Nevada’s comparative negligence law, you may only file a personal injury claim if you were deemed to be 50% or less at fault for the crash. You may file a claim even if you were partially responsible for the crash, assuming that the other driver was 51% or more at fault. If you are awarded damages in a settlement or judgment, your awarded amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, a driver who was awarded $10,000 but was 25% at fault would instead receive $7,500.

Protecting Your Rights After a Sideswipe Accident

Following a sideswipe car accident in Las Vegas, your next steps can significantly impact your ability to seek compensation. Consider taking the following actions to protect your legal rights after being involved in an accident:

  • Remain at the scene – Stay at the scene until police arrive to avoid legal consequences.
  • Seek medical assistance – Call 9-1-1 if needed and wait for care from medical providers.
  • Move to a safe area – If possible, move your car to prevent further injuries.
  • Record information – Write down license plate numbers and vehicle details and take photos of the scene and any injuries.
  • Collect contact information – Get insurance details, driver’s license numbers, and contact info from everyone involved in the crash.
  • Do not admit fault – Avoid admitting any wrongdoing or discuss who could have been at fault, as it may impact your claim.
  • Don’t confirm lack of injury – Soft tissue injuries may not show symptoms right away, so refrain from stating you’re uninjured.
  • Record impressions – Note accident details, speed, and road conditions.
  • Report the accident – Report the accident to the police and notify your insurance company.
  • Consider speaking with a lawyer – Schedule a consultation with an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer to determine if you could have grounds for a personal injury claim.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

In the aftermath of a serious car accident caused by another negligent driver, the expertise of a skilled car accident attorney can make a major difference in the outcome of your case. Many individuals without lawyers inadvertently settle for less than their claim’s full value. At the Cottle Firm, our Las Vegas car accident lawyers help our clients fight for the rightful compensation to cover medical expenses, lost income, and other accident-related costs. 

A competent personal injury lawyer thoroughly reviews the specifics of the car accident and lets their clients know their legal options and the true value of their claims. With legal assistance, personal injury victims increase their chances of maximizing their claims and avoiding inadequate settlements. A lawyer can investigate all contributing factors to the accident, identify responsible parties, represent you in interactions with insurance companies, estimate future expenses, and negotiate a fair settlement.

Discuss Your Case With Our Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyers

Sideswipe car accidents can pose significant challenges for those involved, including serious injuries and both personal and economic setbacks. If your sideswipe accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim.

At the Cottle Firm, our devoted Las Vegas car accident lawyers are ready to help you seek the compensation you rightfully deserve for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Contact the Cottle Firm today at 702-722-6111 to discuss your sideswipe accident claim in a free consultation.


Las Vegas Brain Injury Lawyer

Las Vegas Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

Las Vegas Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

Las Vegas Hit and Run Accident Lawyer