Side-impact car accidents are one of the most common types of collisions. These accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, particularly when the motorist who hits the side of the other car is traveling at a high speed. In extreme cases, these accidents can be fatal.
This type of accident occurs when the front end of one vehicle crashes into the side of another. In addition to the extensive damage that they can cause to the vehicle, they often result in severe injuries to the occupants of both cars involved. If the motorist who hit the other vehicle was travelling at a high speed at the time of impact, the occupant in the car that was impacted may suffer from life-threatening or even fatal injuries.
By understanding some of the common causes of side-impact car accidents, drivers can take steps to prevent them. However, if a driver or a passenger is injured in a side-impact car accident, a skilled lawyer can assist them with the claims process. Most side-impact accidents occur because a driver fails to yield to the right-of-way to another motorist who is driving through an intersection. However, there are a range of factors that can cause this type of accident to occur, including the following:
- Brake failure
- Drowsy driving
- Drunk driving
- Inclement weather conditions
- Failure to obey traffic signs or signals
- Improper left turns
- Running red lights
- Distracted driving
- Mechanical issues
- Pulling out of parking lots
- Reckless driving
What Makes a Side-Impact Accident so Dangerous?
Side-impact car accidents tend to be particularly devastating compared to other types of collisions due to the lack of standardized safety installations, the speed at which the oncoming vehicle is travelling, and other factors. When a car hits the front or the rear end of another vehicle, occupants are protected by the bumper, several feet of steel, the trunk, and the seats. However, when the side of a vehicle is struck by another car, they are only protected by the door and the window. This can result in severe injuries or fatalities.
How Do I Prove Fault in a Side-Impact Car Accident Case?
In some instances, proving fault in a side-impact car accident can be very straightforward. For example, if the accident was caused by another driver who ran through a red light, they will likely be held liable for the accident. Other situations may be less obvious and harder to prove.
The following steps will help an injured party prove that the other driver was negligent and is at fault:
- Report the accident. Like any other car accident, it is crucial that police are notified so that they can arrive at the scene, collect information about the accident, and generate a police report.
- Collect evidence. If possible, the injured motorist should take as many pictures of the accident scene as possible, including the damage to the vehicles, the position of the cars, skid marks on the road, traffic signals, and the injuries.
- Seek immediate medical attention. In addition to ensuring that the one’s injuries are diagnosed and treated, having copies of medical records can help prove fault.
- Talk to witnesses. If there were people who saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement, and ask for their contact information as well.
What Injuries can Result From Side-Impact Collisions?
There are certain types of injuries that are more common in side-impact car accidents compared to other types of collisions. The following are examples of injuries that are often associated with side-impact accidents:
- Internal bleeding: This can occur from the sheer force of the impact. Internal bleeding can be hidden, so it is always important to seek medical care after a collision.
- Head injuries: A head injury can occur when one’s head hits a hard surface inside the vehicle upon impact. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common injuries that can cause long-term or permanent physical, emotional, and cognitive deficits. Skull fractures, concussions, and contusions are also examples of head injuries that are caused by side-impact accidents.
- Spinal cord injuries: Examples of spinal injuries that are caused by side-impact car accidents include slipped discs, hernias, and damage to the nerves along the spinal cord. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, one may suffer from partial or total paralysis.
- Whiplash: This is a neck injury that occurs when the force of impact causes the head to snap back and forth, which can cause torn tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
- Amputation: This is a devastating injury that can occur in a side-impact accident. If an injury to an arm, leg, or another body part is so severe that it cannot be treated, amputation may be necessary to save a person’s life.
- Burn injuries: If the impact of a side-impact car accident causes the vehicle to catch on fire, the occupants of the vehicle could suffer from very serious burn injuries. Even minor burn injuries can be excruciatingly painful.
What Factors Determine the Severity of the Injury?
The following are examples of factors that can influence the type and severity of an injury caused by a side-impact car accident:
- Position of the vehicle. The vehicle occupants who are sitting on the sides of the vehicle often suffer the most severe injuries when they are hit by the door panels. The occupants who are positioned on the non-struck side are often injured by the pillar by the front door.
- Age of the victim. When children are in the vehicle at the time of a side-impact accident, they are more likely to suffer serious injuries than adults, even if the vehicles are travelling at a relatively low speed.
- Use of restraints. Seat belts can save lives and reduce the severity of injuries resulting from a car accident. When vehicle occupants are not properly restrained by a seat belt or car seat, they are at an increased risk for severe injuries.
What are Possible Damages for Side-Impact Car Accidents?
When another driver’s negligence causes a side-impact car accident, an injured victim may be entitled to financial compensation. However, insurance companies will typically do whatever it takes to avoid a costly settlement.
An experienced lawyer will protect an injured party’s rights. Depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the injuries, one may be entitled to the following financial damages:
- Economic damages: These are expenses that the victim lost as a result of the accident and can be precisely calculated. They include medical expenses, past and future lost wages, property damage, lost earning capacity, physical therapy, vocational therapy, and the cost of full-time home assistance.
- Non-economic damages: These are expenses associated with a compromised quality of life, and they are more difficult to quantify because they are subjective. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages: These are rarely awarded, but they are applicable when an accident is caused by a driver whose actions are considered particularly egregious. They are meant to punish the at-fault party for their negligent behavior. For example, if a motorist caused a serious side-impact car accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be liable for punitive damages.
Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers at ACTS Law Represent Injured Side-Impact Collision Victims
If you were seriously injured in a side-impact car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles car accident lawyers at ACTS Law. Many car accident cases are complicated, but we will be by your side to help you through the process. To schedule a free consultation, call 833-ACTS-LAWopens phone dialer or complete an online form. Our offices are located in San Diego and Los Angeles, and we serve clients throughout Southern California.