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Sideswipe Car Accidents In New York

According to the research by the insurance industry, on average there are at least 2000-2500 fatal sideswipe accidents in the United States each year. Sideswipe car accidents occur when two vehicles traveling alongside each other make contact with their sides. These incidents often arise when a driver changes lanes without checking for other vehicles in the adjacent lane or when a distracted driver carelessly drifts into another lane. Many sideswipe collisions happen during lane merges, where a driver fails to ensure sufficient space for a safe merge, increasing the likelihood of an accident. In some cases, parked vehicles have also fallen victim to sideswiping incidents. Sideswipe accidents don’t only occur between cars driving in the same direction. There are also opposite direction sideswipe accidents. In fact, according to New York Department of Transportation, each year in New York there are approximately 120 deaths and 3500 injuries from opposite direction collisions, including sideswipe crashes.

While sideswipe accidents may initially appear less severe than other types of collisions, they frequently result in significant injuries. Victims of such car accidents may experience serious brain injuries, contusions, fractures, internal injuries, amputations, paralysis, or spinal cord injuries. Thankfully, under New York law, individuals involved in car accidents, have the right to file personal injury claims to pursue compensation for their losses. If you or a family member sustained injuries in a sideswipe car accident caused by another person's negligence, we at Stephen Bilkis & Associates strongly recommend that you seek assistance from a skilled New York car accident lawyer who will work hard on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve for your losses.

Causes of Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe car accidents are a common occurrence on roads worldwide, often resulting in property damage, injuries, and even fatalities. These accidents happen when two vehicles traveling parallel to each other make contact with their sides.

  • Lane Change Errors: One of the primary causes of sideswipe accidents is lane change errors. These occur when a driver attempts to change lanes without adequately checking for other vehicles in the adjacent lane. Failing to use mirrors, neglecting blind spots, or misjudging the speed and distance of other vehicles can lead to a sideswipe collision. For example, in Naranjo v. Campbell, 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 35041 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2019), the plaintiff had been driving southbound on the FDR Drive when the defendant's vehicle abruptly changed lanes, colliding with the plaintiff's vehicle. The plaintiff argued that the defendant violated Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1128(a) by not safely changing lanes, constituting negligence per se. Since the defendant admitted to the police the unsafe lane change, the court found in favor of the plaintiff on the issue of liability.
  • Distracted Driving: In today's digital age, distractions behind the wheel have become increasingly prevalent. Drivers who engage in activities such as texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, eating, or even daydreaming are more prone to drifting into adjacent lanes and causing sideswipe accidents.
  • Impaired Driving: Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or certain medications significantly impairs a driver's judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Impaired drivers may swerve into other lanes, increasing the risk of sideswipe accidents.
  • Fatigue: Driver fatigue is another leading cause of sideswipe accidents. When motorists are excessively tired or drowsy, their focus and attentiveness decrease, making it more likely for them to veer into neighboring lanes and collide with other vehicles.
  • Merging Lanes: Sideswipe accidents frequently occur in areas where lanes merge. Drivers who fail to properly assess the available space or neglect to yield to oncoming traffic while merging can initiate sideswipe collisions.
  • Inadequate Signaling: Proper signaling is essential for safe lane changes and turns. Drivers who fail to use their indicators or provide insufficient warning to other motorists may catch adjacent vehicles off guard, resulting in sideswipe accidents.
  • Inexperience: Inexperienced drivers, such as newly licensed individuals or those unfamiliar with specific road conditions, are more prone to misjudging distances and failing to execute lane changes accurately. Lack of experience increases the likelihood of sideswipe accidents.
  • Road Conditions: Poorly maintained roads, inclement weather, or slippery surfaces can contribute to sideswipe accidents. Reduced traction and decreased vehicle control make it more challenging to stay within one's lane, increasing the risk of sideswipe collisions.
  • Speeding: Driving at excessive speeds reduces a driver's ability to react to sudden changes in traffic patterns or unexpected movements of nearby vehicles. Speeding drivers may struggle to navigate curves or make timely lane changes, resulting in sideswipe accidents.
  • Mechanical Failures: Defective brakes, malfunctioning steering systems, or tire blowouts can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle, leading to unintended lane changes and sideswipe collisions.

To prevent sideswipe accidents, it is crucial for drivers to practice defensive driving techniques, maintain focus on the road, avoid distractions, signal lane changes properly, and adhere to traffic laws. Regardless of the reason, if you were injured in a sideswipe accident caused by another person, contact an experienced New York car accident lawyer.

Consequences of Sideswipe Accidents

Even though it may seem as a sideswipe accident would be minor, causing only damage to the car, they can be very serious. Sideswipe accidents can have serious consequences, including severe injuries. For example, in February 2019, Mr. Peguero's was seriously injured in a sideswipe accident that occurred while he was driving Eastbound near Cooper Avenue and 80th Avenue in Queens. Perguero suffered injuries including a concussion and tears to his right shoulder and right elbow. Additionally, he was diagnosed with multiple herniations and underwent a single-level cervical fusion and two-level lumbar fusion after conservative treatment failed. With the help of an experienced New York car accident lawyer, Perguero filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. Peguero v. Krulasik, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 35486 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2020)

Sideswipe accidents can also lead to loss of life. In Raedel Hawkins v. County of Suffolk, Jenna Vatalaro, a 19-year-old student, was fatally injured in a collision on Montauk Highway in Blue Point. Vatalaro's car collided with a transit bus. The estate sought wrongful death damages, alleging conscious pain and suffering. During the trial, the estate's counsel argued Dortch initiated a sideswipe collision by crossing the highway's center line. Defense argued Vatalaro failed to yield while turning left onto Atlantic Avenue. The jury found the defendants liable, awarding $1.67 million to Vatalaro's estate, including $1.25 million for wrongful death and $250,000 for pre-impact terror.

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a sideswipe car accident, contact an experienced New York car accident lawyer, as you have the right to pursue the following types of compensation from the parties who caused the accident.

  • Medical Expenses: If you sustain serious injuries in a sideswipe accident, you can seek compensation for all medical expenses related to your treatment. This includes hospital bills, doctor's visits, surgery costs, prescription medications, physical therapy, and any other necessary medical treatment. It's important to document all medical expenses to ensure you receive full compensation.
  • Lost Wages: If your injuries prevent you from working or result in a loss of income, you can pursue compensation for lost wages. This includes both current and future income you would have earned if not for the accident. Documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns, and a letter from your employer may be required to prove your lost earnings.
  • Pain and Suffering: New York allows injured parties to seek compensation for pain and suffering resulting from a sideswipe accident. This compensation accounts for the physical pain, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life caused by the injuries. Calculating pain and suffering damages often involves complex legal and medical assessments and will vary based on the severity of injuries and their long-term impact.
  • Wrongful Death: If a sideswipe car accident in New York results in the wrongful death of a loved one, the victim’s personal representative can pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim.

To pursue compensation after a sideswipe accident in New York, it's essential to gather evidence such as police reports, witness statements, photographs of the accident scene and injuries, and documentation of medical treatment and expenses. Consulting with an experienced car accident attorney in New York can help you navigate the legal process and ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve.

Sideswipe Car Accident Verdicts and Settlements

With any personal injury claim, in a claim based on injuries suffered in a sideswipe car accident, severity of injuries is a key factor in determining the amount of the jury verdict of or settlement. The following are a few examples of actual sideswipe injury verdicts and settlements:

  • $3,250,000 to plaintiff who was injured when truck sideswiped his car door. On May 22, 2015, while he was placing a child in the vehicle, Plaintiff Damon Patterson’s car's door was swiped by a truck. His injuries included brain damage, a torn knee meniscus, spinal disc herniations, and shoulder labrum tears. Patterson underwent surgeries for his knee, shoulder, and spine, along with ongoing physical and neuropsychological treatments. He sought compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, Social Security benefits, and pain and suffering. In September 2019, the parties settled during trial with the defendant’s insurance company agreeing to pay Patterson $3.25 million.
  • $3,000,000 for sideswipe accident that led to spinal fusion. Plaintiff Humberto Bravo, a landscaper, was driving his dump truck on the Cross-Westchester Expressway when it was swiped by a tractor-trailer driven. The collision caused a chain reaction involving other vehicles, resulting in injuries to Bravo's back, neck, and shoulder. Bravo, along with other injured parties, sued the driver of the tractor-trailer, alleging negligence. Bravo underwent multiple surgeries, including a failed discectomy and fusion procedures on his spine and shoulder. However, Bravo suffered residual pain and limitations, preventing him from performing physical labor or everyday activities. Bravo sought recovery for past medical expenses and pain and suffering. In December 2019, the parties reached a pretrial settlement totaling $3 million.
  • $1,750,000 settlement to plaintiff who suffered knee and spine injuries in a sideswipe accident. Jazzma Daughtry, a passenger in a car, was involved in a sideswipe collision with a dump truck. Daughtry filed a lawsuit against the truck driver as well as his employer, claiming that the driver failed to yield the right of way. The defendant argued that the driver of the car entered his truck's path. Daughtry suffered herniated discs and a torn meniscus, requiring surgery and ongoing physical therapy. Daughtry sought compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. The parties ended up settling for $1.75 million.
  • $1,150,000 for injuries suffered win car was sideswiped by a firetruck. Jennifer Maria Sosa, a passenger in a car driven by Jeffrey Emiliano, was involved in a sideswipe collision with a fire truck that was turning left onto East 27th Street in Manhattan. Sosa suffered a herniated disc, requiring surgery. She also claimed ongoing pain and limitations affecting daily activities. Sosa sued Emiliano, Sutton, and the City of New York for negligence. Her New York car accident lawyer argued that Sutton, driving to the immediate right of Emiliano, was primarily liable for the accident, alleging he failed to yield. Seeking recovery for future medical expenses and pain and suffering, in January 2020, Sosa settled for $1.15 million.
  • $7,750,000 jury verdict in favor of plaintiff who was injured in a sideswipe collision. On March 1, 2016, Melissa Cepeda was driving on the Bronx River Parkway when her car was involved in a sideswipe collision with a sport utility vehicle driven. Cepeda sued the driver as well as the vehicle's owner, alleging negligence. Cepeda claimed herniations in multiple intervertebral discs, nerve impingement, and shoulder injuries. Defense argued Cepeda exaggerated her injuries, citing a normal range of motion and a job promotion post-accident. The jury found defendants liable and determined Cepeda suffered a serious injury, awarding her $7.75 million. Cepeda's awarded damages included $250,000 for past pain and suffering and $7.5 million for future pain and suffering over 30 years.
  • $6,200,000 jury verdict in favor of plaintiff who suffered serious injuries when a truck made an improper left turn, sideswiping her car. On May 30, 2013, Maria Vasquez, a home-care attendant, was driving on Third Avenue in Brooklyn when her car collided with a truck driven by the defendant while both were executing left turns onto Hamilton Avenue. She sued alleging negligence. Vasquez claimed the defendant turned from a lane where left turns were not allowed. Vasquez sought medical treatment a week after the accident, having suffered a herniated disc in her neck, a torn meniscus in her left knee, and a torn rotator cuff in her left shoulder. She underwent surgeries for her knee and shoulder and spinal fusion for her neck. Vasquez resigned from work due to her injuries, claiming she could not perform basic activities like cooking and may need further surgeries. Defense argued Vasquez's injuries were degenerative and not related to the accident, emphasizing her quick return to work. Despite this, the jury found defendants liable, deeming Vasquez's injuries serious. They awarded her $6.2 million, including $1 million for past pain and suffering and $5 million for future pain and suffering, with $200,000 for future medical costs.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Sideswipe accidents can result in significant repercussions, especially when involving large vehicles such as truck or when the vehicles are traveling at high speeds. In accordance with New York law, you have the right to seek compensation for the injuries you sustained in a sideswipe accident caused by another party. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we possess a wealth of experience in representing clients who have suffered severe injuries in vehicle accidents, and we are dedicated to providing you with the legal assistance you need. Don’t delay in taking action. Under New York law, you generally have only 3 years to file a claim based on injuries suffered in a car accident. Contact an experienced car accidents attorney serving New York at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your car accident. We serve clients in the following locations: Westchester County, Suffolk County, Staten Island, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, and Queens.

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