A sideswipe collision can occur in a variety of ways and involve two or more parties. Sometimes the consequences are little more than a few scratches on your vehicle. Other times, you could suffer substantial losses, including devastating injuries and significant financial and emotional repercussions. In Arizona, you have the right to hold the at-fault party responsible for your economic and non-economic damages.
First Steps To Take Following a Sideswipe Collision
The steps you take in the moments, days, and weeks following a car accident can affect your ability to access compensation for your losses. Arizona is a no-fault auto accident state, meaning the person responsible for the accident is liable for damages. However, the victim has the burden of proving the other driver’s negligence and their right to general and specific damages. To recover your losses, consider the following actions you can take.
Reporting the Accident
There are several reasons someone may decide not to report a car accident to the police. For example, in a minor accident, you may not think it necessary, or the at-fault driver may ask you to refrain because they do not have proper insurance coverage. In addition, some people may fail to report an accident for fear of liability. Whatever the reason, it is always better to report an accident to the police.
In more heavily populated areas, the police station may not dispatch an officer for minor damage and no instance of bodily harm. However, you still have the ability to report the accident by driving to the station or filing an online report through the department website.
Should the police arrive, they will investigate and write a report. More likely than not, they will make a fault determination and include that in their notes. This could be a vital source of evidence for your claim.
Documenting the Scene
Documenting the scene after a sideswipe collision is your first opportunity to collect evidence to support your claim. Start by taking photographs of the following:
- The damage to both vehicles
- Any visible injuries on your body
- The area around the impact area, including any traffic lights, road signs, or nearby ramps
Look around for any businesses and properties with outdoor security footage that might have footage of the accident. Also, ask the other driver for their contact information, including proof of insurance, and take a photograph of the card. Finally, if any eyewitnesses remain on the scene, get their information as well.
Another excellent way to document your statement immediately following the crash is to record a video of the scene and narrate the details. The sooner you write down or record your recollection of events, the more reliable your memory is, making it potentially more beneficial for your claim.
Seeking a Complete Medical Evaluation
A common mistake accident victims make is failing to see a doctor immediately following the crash. A sideswipe collision may not result in significant bodily injury. You may even walk away feeling unharmed, but you should still seek medical attention to ensure you are physically well and document any injuries in a medical record.
You can drive yourself to the hospital or an urgent care facility. You may also schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Who you see is not as important as when you see them. Waiting too long for an evaluation is not only dangerous if you have internal injuries, but it can also potentially damage your claim.
Talking to an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
Liability in a sideswipe collision is often relatively straightforward. However, dealing with an insurance company is not always a simple process. Providers task their adjusters to put the company’s best interest above all else, which sometimes means you will deal with a combative insurer attempting to delegitimize your claim.
Auto accidents account for most personal injury claims, which is why a personal injury attorney is the best person to help you build your case. In addition, most work on a contingency fee basis and offer free consultations where you can ask as many questions as possible. Therefore, you have nothing to lose from scheduling a consultation.
Determining Liability in Sideswipe Collision
As the plaintiff, you are responsible for providing evidence that the other driver is liable for the accident and resulting damages. In all car accident cases, the person who violated traffic laws or failed to act safely is generally the responsible party. For example, in a case involving a sideswipe accident, the at-fault party is typically the driver who did not yield before merging or looking before moving into another lane.
In the rare event that both parties are at fault for a sideswipe collision, Arizona law requires the application of the pure comparative negligence rule. Should you be as much as 99% responsible for the crash, you could still recover 1% of the total value of damages.
Elements of a Negligence Claim
Negligence is the basis of nearly all personal injury claims, and Arizona tort law requires the plaintiff to prove the following key elements to establish negligence:
- That the other party owed them a duty of care
- That the driver did not uphold that duty of care by violating the law or failing to follow driving best practices
- That the driver’s breach of duty resulted in the collision that caused injuries
Proving duty of care is simple because every driver has a responsibility to abide by the laws of the road and operate their vehicle in a way that keeps others reasonably safe. An attorney can help with establishing the other elements.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney After a Sideswipe Collision
It is never too soon to talk to a car accident lawyer after a crash. Arizona personal injury law holds at-fault drivers responsible for their negligent actions, and victims typically receive higher settlements at a faster rate with legal representation. If you suffered an injury or significant property damage in a sideswipe collision, contact Sargon Law Group to schedule your free case evaluation and speak with a qualified car accident attorney who has experience with similar cases in Maricopa County.