Sideswipe car accidents

8 minute read Published on Jun 8, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Sideswipe car accidents

Sideswipe car accidents are one of the most nerve-wracking types of car accidents to be involved with. Why? They often come out of nowhere and can, therefore, shock the driver to the point of accidentally swerving out of their lane or suddenly stopping, which can lead to even greater damage. If you want to know all there is about sideswipe collisions, including their primary causes and how an insurance company determines fault in the aftermath, keep reading.

Sideswipe accidents explained

A sideswipe car accident is a type of accident that involves two cars colliding from the side as they travel in the same direction. The most common example of a side-swipe car accident is when one car accidentally veers out of its lane, whether they are attempting to change lanes or is simply distracted, and as a result, it hits the vehicle travelling in the lane beside it.

Though it may not sound like it, sideswipe collisions are extremely dangerous. First, the physical impact or force of another car colliding into your vehicle from the side can have severe consequences, especially since passengers and drivers are typically less protected from this angle. If the other vehicle hits your car in a spot next to where the driver or a passenger is sitting, it could cause serious injury.

Further, even if the physical force of the sideswipe accident is not enough to cause major damage or injury to the occupants inside, some drivers might find it difficult to remain in control of the car during and after the collision. It’s not uncommon for a car to spin out of control, veer into another lane, or hit another vehicle or grounded object after being involved in a sideswipe collision. In even more extreme cases, the driver might even cross the rest of the highway or flip and roll over. Thus, the primary reason that sideswipe car accidents are so dangerous is that they often lead to secondary accidents that can result in further property damage and bodily injury, both to those involved in the initial accident and others.

To make matters worse, sideswipe car accidents often occur when travelling at high speeds and on multi-lane roads, such as highways. This makes these types of accidents even more dangerous, as we all know that speeding can exacerbate the effects of a collision.

Head-on sideswipe car accidents vs. sideswipe car accidents that involve cars travelling in the same direction

While sideswipe collisions from the side are most common, you will occasionally see head-on sideswipe car accidents. A head-on side-swipe car accident occurs when two vehicles travelling in opposite directions are about to collide and swerve to avoid each other but, unfortunately, aren’t able to completely avoid colliding.

A head-on collision is when two cars collide front to front, while a head-on sideswipe car accident is when two cars collide from the side. The main cause of head-on sideswipe car accidents is one or both cars accidentally veering out of their lanes. This type of sideswipe accident tends to have even more severe consequences than sideswipe accidents involving cars travelling in the same direction.

How does a sideswipe accident happen?

A sideswipe accident can happen in a number of ways, though some are more common than others. Below, we outline some of the most common causes of sideswipe car accidents so that you can do your best to avoid them in the future:

Improper or unsafe lane change

Perhaps the most common way that a sideswipe accident occurs is when a driver attempts an improper or unsafe lane change. As a driver, you are responsible for taking the necessary safety precautions when you want to change lanes. This means using your turn signal and checking your blind spot before changing lanes. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for drivers to forget one or both of these behaviours, and that’s when a sideswipe accident can occur on a multi-lane road.

Reckless merging

Similar to an improper lane change, reckless merging can also result in a sideswipe collision. Merging is most common on highways, and it is usually the driver entering the roadway who is responsible for merging safely. Again, in order to merge safely, you must use your turn signal and do a shoulder check to make sure that your blind spot is clear. If you fail to do this, a sideswipe collision can occur.

Losing control of the vehicle

A driver losing control of their vehicle is another reason that sideswipe collisions can happen. Someone can lose control of their car if they are driving at high speeds or through inclement weather. For example, if a driver is travelling too fast around a curve, they might inadvertently drift into the lane beside them in an attempt to regain control, but this could end up resulting in a sideswipe collision.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of car accidents in Canada, so we would be remiss if we didn’t mention it here. What is distracted driving, you might be wondering? Distracted driving is any type of behaviour that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. This could be eating a snack, drinking coffee, texting a friend, tuning the radio, or even setting up your air conditioner or heating system. If you want to avoid hitting another car, a grounded object, or even a pedestrian, you must stay focused on the road at all times.

Drunk driving

Drunk driving, also known as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is another cause of sideswipe collisions. Your ability to drive safely goes out the window when you have a certain amount of drugs or alcohol in your system. This can lead to swerving, unsafe lane changes, and an inability to judge the positions and distances of other cars and pedestrians. To stay safe and avoid a criminal charge, never drive impaired.


If you want to avoid getting into a serious sideswipe car accident or a car accident altogether, then you should never speed. Speeding makes it more likely that you will lose control of your vehicle, which is when accidents happen. Plus, the faster your car is travelling at the time of the accident, the worse the consequences will be. Accidents that involve speeding cars usually result in more severe property damage and bodily injury. To make matters worse, if you are caught speeding, whether it results in an accident or not, you can receive a speeding ticket, which will go on your driving record and increase your car insurance rates. Learn more safe driving tips here.

Road rage

Road rage often leads to unsafe driving behaviours. For this reason, road rage is a cause of sideswipe collisions. When you’re angry and frustrated behind the wheel, it can lead you to speed or attempt an unsafe lane change, such as weaving in and out of lanes without signalling. All of this makes you far more likely to get into a car accident, including a side-swipe collision.

Bad weather

Your chances of being involved in an accident go up when driving in bad weather. Poor weather not only affects road surfaces, but it can also decrease visibility, making it more difficult to see other cars, pedestrians, and objects on the road. For example, rain, snow, and ice can significantly reduce the amount of traction on the road. Meanwhile, these conditions, as well as fog and even direct sun, can make it harder to see. All of this increases your risk of hitting another car. Even if you take care to check your blind spot, you might have trouble seeing a car travelling in the lane beside you if there is heavy rain or thick fog. To make matters worse, brake time will be increased since traction is lower, so your odds of getting into a fender bender might also go up. Anytime you’re driving in poor weather, slow down and give other cars as much space as possible.

What injuries can result from a side-swipe car accident?

All kinds of injuries can result from a sideswipe car accident. The extent of a person’s injuries ultimately depends on the type of sideswipe accidents they were involved in, as well as other circumstances, such as the speed at which the cars were travelling during the collision. However, a few of the most common types of injuries that can arise from sideswipe collisions include:

  • Whiplash
  • Broken bones
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Psychological injuries
  • Fatalities

Sideswipe car accidents and auto insurance

If you get into a sideswipe car accident, you will need to report the car accident and file a claim with your insurance provider. In fact, this is one of the first things that you should do if you’re in a car accident.

Not reporting a car accident can have serious repercussions, especially if someone is injured in the accident or the accident damage exceeds a certain amount of money. In either of these scenarios, you are legally obligated to report the accident to the police. You can be fined if you fail to do so. On top of this, having a police report is important when you file an insurance claim.

In Ontario, thanks to the province’s no-fault insurance system, the claim you file will be directly with your provider, even if you were not at fault for the accident.

Once you’ve filed your claim, your insurance company will investigate it and determine the fault. Shared fault can be determined. However, usually, one party will be found to be more liable than the other. The at-fault party can then file a third-party liability insurance claim to cover the costs of the accident.

When determining liability, the insurance adjuster will consider various circumstances around the accident, such as whether one or both drivers veered out of their lanes and if either driver was engaged in illegal or unsafe driving behaviour at the time of the collision, such as speeding or texting and driving.

Learn more by contacting BrokerLink

If you want to find out more about sideswipe car accidents, reach out to BrokerLink today. One of our licensed and experienced insurance advisors can explain how these types of accidents happen, how fault is determined after you are involved in one, and how you can drive safely to reduce your odds of getting into a sideswipe collision.

As car insurance experts, the BrokerLink team can also help you understand how your car insurance rates will be impacted if you are found to be at fault for a sideswipe collision. Generally, your insurance rates will increase, though there are some exceptions, such as if you have accident forgiveness coverage.

Whether you want to help reducing your rates following an accident or simply want to purchase a new car insurance policy, a BrokerLink insurance advisor can explain the different types of auto insurance out there and help you find a policy that includes any of the following coverages:

Contact BrokerLink to get started today and request a free car insurance quote.

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