One of the most intimidating parts of driving on a highway or interstate is sharing the road with large, commercial trucks. These vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and are often operated by workers who might be tired, distracted, or reckless, putting you and your loved ones in increased danger.
Many people feel nervous trying to pass a big rig, especially when a sharp curve approaches, a gust of wind blows through or, terrifyingly, a trucker flips on a turn signal because you’re in their blind spot. You might not know the technical term for it, but at this moment, you’re in danger of a sideswipe accident. These are serious crashes, especially in areas where there are two or more lanes of traffic, resulting in severe injuries and significant property damage.
At Max Meyers Law, we understand the outward-rippling consequences of being in a truck sideswipe accident like an 18-wheeler or tanker, and how overwhelming it is to deal with the fall-out. Understanding how these accidents happen, who’s at fault, and what you must do to protect your health, rights, and financial stability is imperative to getting through to the other side.
The Anatomy of Truck Sideswipe Accidents
These collisions occur when two vehicles are moving in the same direction and come into contact with each other on the wide side of the vehicle. A large number of these crashes take place when drivers attempt to switch lanes on a highway or interstate, or when merging onto a similar road. But generally, sideswipe accidents happen any time a vehicle operator fails to stay in the proper lane or doesn’t properly check for hazards when switching lanes.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that there are roughly 242,000 sideswipe crashes each year that result in 27,000, serious injuries and more than 2,500 fatalities.
Many people assume that truck sideswipe accidents aren’t as detrimental as other types of truck crashes because the vehicles are moving in the same direction and may not involve as much force as, say, a head-on collision. But sideswipe accidents can push vehicles into other hazards—including oncoming traffic—cause a serious rollover accident, or even set off a chain reaction of other crashes.
Underlying Causes of Truck Sideswipe Crashes
Why do these incidents happen? The most common cause is blind spots, and large commercial trucks have many of those. But there are other reasons including, but not limited to:
- Improper turning
- Driver distraction
- Poorly adjusted or blocked mirrors
- Driver fatigue/falling asleep at the wheel
- Driving under the influence
- Lack of signaling merging or lane change
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Loss of control while driving
- Equipment failure
- Poorly designed roads
When it comes to getting compensation and collecting damages after a truck sideswipe crash, the most important consideration is to determine whether you were at fault, the trucker was negligent, both parties share responsibility for the incident, or another entity contributed to the event, such as a municipality or a parts manufacturer. It’s also possible for multiple parties to share fault.In some cases, the fault is obvious. Perhaps the rig didn’t have regular maintenance checks and the brakes went out, or the truck operator violated hours of service regulations. In other cases, liability may be more difficult to pin down, especially without the help of an attorney.
If a trucking company or commercial truck driver was in fact responsible for your accident, you could collect the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Past and future medical bills and expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Non-medical expenses
- Permanent injury
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
What to do After a Washington Truck Sideswipe Accident
After such a catastrophic incident, it’s imperative to prioritize your safety and health while taking the appropriate legal steps at the same time. Here’s what we recommend.
Ensure Your Immediate Safety
The aftermath of a sideswipe truck accident can be chaotic. First and foremost, ensure your safety by moving to a safe location, if possible. Activate your hazard lights and call 911 if you’re able. Sometimes in highway crashes, the safest place to stay is in your car.
Seek and Accept Medical Attention
Regardless of what you think about the severity of your injuries, it’s crucial to get medical attention. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away, and only a health care professional can accurately assess your condition. Your well-being is paramount, and prompt medical attention also documents your injuries for legal purposes. It’s not brave or strong to turn down medical help.
To build a solid case, gather as much evidence as possible if you’re physically able. Take photographs of the accident scene, including damage to both vehicles, road conditions, and any relevant signage. Obtain contact information from the truck driver, any witnesses, and law enforcement officers on the scene.
Contact Your Insurance Company and an Attorney
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible—it’s likely required by your insurance policy. Consult with an attorney experienced in truck accident cases who can guide you through the process and ensure you don't provide statements that could harm your case.
Document Your Injuries
Keep a detailed record of your medical treatment, expenses, and any ongoing symptoms. This documentation is essential when seeking compensation for your injuries and damages, but it also ensures your best possible care and recovery.
Don't Accept Quick Settlements
Insurance companies may try to settle quickly, offering minimal compensation that benefits their business. It's crucial to consult with an attorney before accepting any offers to secure fair compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering.
Know Your Rights
Always remember that you have legal rights, and it's crucial to protect them. At Max Meyers Law, our team has the skill and dedication to help you navigate the legal process and achieve the best possible outcome in your sideswipe truck accident case.