San Antonio Sideswipe Truck Accident Lawyer
Sideswipe accidents happen when a truck driver attempts to change lanes without checking mirrors or blind spots. The driver moves into a lane that already has a car in it, and the truck collides with that car. The collision may knock the car into the next lane or off the road entirely, or the car may become jammed up beneath the high overhang of the trailer.
While sideswipe same-direction accidents do not have the same force of impact as head-on collisions or other types of accidents, they can be every bit as dangerous and occasionally fatal. The personal injury attorneys at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund have litigated numerous such accidents in which a truck driver illegally changed lanes and caused a serious accident.
If you’ve been injured by a commercial truck driver in a sideswipe accident, contact us today and set up a free consultation. Our powerful team is here to help.
Different Kinds of Sideswipe Accidents
There are a variety of circumstances that may lead to sideswipe accidents involving large trucks:
- Sideswipe same-direction accidents occur when two vehicles that are each heading in the same direction collide in a side-impact collision.
- Sideswipe opposite-direction accidents generally occur when one vehicle is attempting to turn left while another vehicle is attempting to go straight.
- In some cases, sideswipe accidents can occur between two commercial trucks. However, many of these accidents involve a truck colliding with a much smaller vehicle on the road.
Common Causes of Truck Sideswipe Accidents
The most common cause of a sideswipe accident is when one vehicle fails to yield the right of way to another. This can include illegally changing lanes without checking mirrors or blind spots. Or it may happen when one vehicle attempts to make a left-hand turn onto a highway or another street and the other vehicle coming from the opposite direction hits the turning vehicle on the side.
Other common causes of truck sideswipe accidents include:
- Intoxicated drivers
- Over-tired drivers
- Inexperienced drivers
- Distracted driving
- Not anticipating a lane merge
- Failure to keep the truck in one lane
- Failure to check mirrors/blind spots
- Failure to signal before changing lanes
- Truck jackknifes after a tire blowout
- Truck capsizes due to being improperly loaded
- Wet roads
In some cases, two vehicles in the first and third lanes on highways will both attempt to merge into the middle lane at the same time. Without video evidence, it can be very difficult to determine fault in these cases.
Side-Impact Collisions: Who’s at Fault
Determining fault in a sideswipe accident requires an investigation. In more cases than not, fault will be disputed by either party with both blaming the other for the accident. Some evidence that could prove helpful:
- The police report will shed some light on the situation but cannot necessarily be relied upon as an inviolable objective document or a final authority.
- In addition, there will be witness statements, and in some cases, there may be closed-circuit surveillance cameras that shed some light on how the accident happened.
- Debris from the accident and the damage done to one or both vehicles can also be used to reconstruct the probable cause of the accident.
In any case, the rules of the road will determine fault:
- In more cases than not, someone failed to yield the right of way when they were supposed to and this resulted in a major accident.
- In cases where a driver attempted to merge into a lane that already had a car in it, that driver is going to be assigned the majority of the blame.
- In cases where a car was attempting to make a left-hand turn and was sideswiped head-on by another vehicle, a determination must be made as to how much time the vehicle attempting to go straight had to react to the turning vehicle. If the turning vehicle cut off oncoming traffic, then they would be assigned the blame. If the other vehicle ran a red light or otherwise had enough time to react to the vehicle attempting to turn, then the blame would go to the driver going straight.
Comparative Fault Under Texas Law
In some cases, some portion of the blame may be assigned to both drivers. In cases where some traffic violation contributed to the accident, a determination may be made to assign some of the blame to each party in the accident. So long as your part of the blame is equal to or less than 50 percent, you are still allowed to recover damages for the accident. However, your total damages would be reduced by your percentage of the share of the blame. In other words, if you have a total of $100,000 in damages and are found 25 percent responsible for the accident, your payment would be reduced by $25,000.
Our sideswipe truck accident attorneys can help you preserve your claim and fight the trucking insurance company or civil defense attorney as they try to reduce the value of your claim by blaming you for the accident.
‘Blind Spot’ Accidents ─ What You Need to Know
Semis, tractor-trailers, and other large delivery vehicles have much larger blind spots than cars, vans, SUVs, and pickups. It’s worse on the right side of the vehicle, where the blind spot can extend across multiple lanes of traffic. Merging into traffic and switching lanes safely is more difficult for truck drivers. However, truck drivers earn special commercial licenses that ostensibly prove they have the training necessary to operate these vehicles safely.
Due in large part to the frequency of blind spot collisions, especially those in which the truck driver is attempting to move right, modern trucks are fitted with blind spot detection systems that warn the driver if they have a car in their blind spot. There are, however, a number of older trucks that don’t have this technology installed.
Additionally, if something goes wrong with the sensors, and the truck driver has come to rely on the blind spot detection system, it’s only a matter of time before an accident occurs. In this case, trucks are expected to leave for deliveries in safe and working condition. Technological failure does not clear the trucking company of liability. In some cases, however, it adds another potentially responsible party.
Sideswipe Accidents and Catastrophic Injuries
When commercial tractor-trailers are involved, sideswipe accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries. This happens for one of two reasons. Either the truck sweeps the other vehicle off the road or a smaller vehicle (like a car) becomes jammed up underneath the carriage of the trailer.
Trucks have rear guard rails in the back of the vehicle to prevent smaller vehicles from becoming lodged there in the case of a rear-end collision. These are required by federal law. However, federal law does not require trailers to have side rails.
While less common, a sideswipe accident can cause a smaller car to become lodged underneath the larger truck. When that happens, the entire roof of the car caves in as glass shatters everywhere. Such accidents are often fatal.
While federal law may not require trucks to drive with side rails, many trucking companies fit their trucks with underside guards all the way around the trailer to prevent these types of accidents. Since, however, this technology is vital to preventing nearly 300 deaths a year, trucking companies that don’t fit their trucks with side rails can be held liable in civil court for putting drivers at risk.
Demanding Compensation in a Trucking Sideswipe Accident
The majority of trucking accident claims are made against the trucking company’s liability insurance policy. These policies carry significant limits because commercial trucks improperly operated put other drivers and their families at risk of catastrophic and costly injuries.
In some cases, the trucking company can be sued directly. In these cases, you must allege that some negligence on behalf of the trucking company either caused the accident or aggravated the situation. For instance, a trucking company would be considered negligent if it failed to do a background check on one of its drivers and it turned out they were driving on a suspended, revoked, or expired commercial driver’s license. Additionally, their insurance policy may not even cover them in the case of this level of gross negligence.
Additionally, trucks that have bad tires or improperly functioning blind spot detection systems can cause sideswipe accidents. If a tire blows out, the tire company may be liable along with the trucking company. It is possible to sue the manufacturer of a defective product after a serious trucking accident.
Your sideswipe truck accident attorney can help you pursue damages related to:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
How Our Sideswipe Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or other commercial trucking vehicle, the stakes are very high. You will only get one chance to recover damages related to your accident. For that reason, you want to have a powerful team of truck accident attorneys managing your claim.
Give Ketterman Rowland & Westlund a call or talk to us online to set up a free consultation. We will preserve the integrity of your claim and fight for every penny that you’re owed.