What Happens When a Car Hits You from the Side?

Nothing startles you like another vehicle slamming into the side of your car. Between your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, you may be forced to abandon daily activities. A few weeks of doctor’s visits and the inability to work can quickly become a financial burden. If you have been the victim of a side-impact crash in Las Vegas, you need the car accident attorneys at Cloward Trial Lawyers to represent you.

What Happens When a Car Hits You from the Side?

Causes of Side Impact Crashes

A side impact crash, also known as a broadside collision, takes place anytime a car hits another vehicle from the side.

There are two common types of side impact crashes: “side-swipes” and T-bone accidents. In a side-swipe accident, a vehicle is struck on the side by another vehicle. In contrast, a T-bone accident is when a car’s front end hits the side of another vehicle.

A few common causes of side-impact crashes are:

  1. Merging collisions: this is a common cause of “side swipe” accidents; a driver may fail to notice another driver already on the road when merging into traffic.
  2. Inclement weather: due to low visibility (heavy fog, precipitation, etc.) or slippery road conditions, a driver may lose control and collide with another vehicle
  3. Failure to yield: many T-bone and side sweep crashes may take place at intersections. Many collisions are due to poor depth perception and/or a driver’s impatience. T-bone accidents commonly occur when drivers run red lights.
  4. Distracted driving: a driver may fail to follow traffic laws because they are either texting, talking on their phone, or eating or drinking. Distracted driving is anything that prevents the driver from focusing on the road.
  5. Aggressive driving: if a driver is driving aggressively, or speeding, then they may lose control of their vehicle and hit the side of another car

Why is a Side Impact Crash So Serious?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), side-impact crashes were the direct cause of 23% of occupant deaths in 2020. In multi-vehicle accidents, more than 2,500 passengers die from side impact crashes annually.

A side impact crash can have severe ramifications on your body. As opposed to a head-on collision, where you have a bumper to ease the impact, you do not have the same protection when you are hit from the side.

In a side collision, there is minimal safeguard between you and the other vehicle. Due to this lack of protection, the driver and passengers take the brunt of the collision.

As a vehicle is crushed from a side impact crash, flying debris can cause lacerations (skin cuts), broken bones, and eye injuries. Temporary or permanent vision loss can result.

Head Injuries

The Mayo Clinic reports that car accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. A TBI is caused by a violent blow to the head. Since occupants do not have the protection of airbags in side collisions, brain damage is more likely.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any injury to the brain that compromises brain function. This injuries can be classified anywhere from mild to severe. In more severe cases, the patient may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Persistent headaches
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilated pupils that do not respond to light (mydriasis)
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Profound confusion

Symptoms can manifest themselves as physical, cognitive, mental, or a combination. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries can go undiagnosed since symptoms may not present for days or weeks following the accident.

A common type of TBI that results from side impact collisions is a concussion. A concussion is a temporary loss of brain function. Many of the symptoms overlap with general TBI symptoms.

The most notable symptoms of a concussion include the following:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble thinking normally
  • Mood changes

Vehicle Damage

A side impact not only causes physical injuries but can also cause irreparable damage to your vehicle.

Vehicle damage may include:

  • Dented or scraped door panels
  • Broken glass
  • A bent frame

If you have been in a side-impact crash, a reputable mechanic will be able to assess the damage to your vehicle to determine what repair options are available.

If the frame of your vehicle has suffered damage, then the car may lose some of its protective ability. It may be challenging to maneuver turns at high speeds.

Depending on the severity of the crash, it may make more sense to replace the vehicle. Generally, a car is considered totaled if the cost to repair a vehicle is more than 75% of the car’s actual value.

Who is at Fault in a Side Impact Crash?

Fault will usually lie with whichever driver caused the accident, either by violating traffic laws or turning into the other driver.

All drivers are required to operate their vehicles with reasonable care. In operating a vehicle, this means that every driver is required to obey traffic laws and to pay attention to the road.

A driver that fails to operate their vehicle with reasonable care is a hazard to others. Most motor vehicle accidents are caused by negligent behavior. When a party is found negligent, they are failing to act in a way that a reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances.

For example, a driver that runs a red light and T-bones another driver traveling straight at an intersection will most likely be found liable for the accident. If the driver that ran the red light was obeying traffic laws, they would have stopped at the red light, and the accident would not have occurred.

In order to be found liable for an accident, the following components of negligence must be found:

  • Duty: the defendant (the party being sued) had a duty to take proper care on the road
  • Breach: the defendant failed to uphold that duty
  • Causation: as a direct result of the defendant’s actions or failure to act properly, the plaintiff (person pursuing the claim) has sustained injuries
  • Damages: the defendant’s breach of duty has resulted in actual damages, or losses, to the plaintiff

Types of Legal Remedies

In Nevada, if the damages being sought are less than $10,000, a case can be taken to small claims court. Cases that are up to $25,000 are considered limited civil cases and must be tried in civil court.

When a party that is part of a car accident is requesting legal relief to be made “whole” again, they are seeking damages.

A victim of a car accident may be entitled to compensatory damages: economic (special) or non-economic (general).

Economic, or special damages, are losses that can be easily quantified and account for out-of-pocket expenses.

Examples of economic damages:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Household services
  • Vehicle damage

None-conomic, or general damages, are losses that do not have a specific dollar amount attached but still interfere with the plaintiff’s ability to live a full life.

Examples of non-economic damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of society and companionship

If the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, then the plaintiff may be able to receive punitive damages.

Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to make the victim “whole” again, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages also serve to deter others in society from behaving in the same manner.

Although Nevada has no caps on compensatory damages, there is a limit on punitive damages. In Nevada, punitive damages cannot be more than three times the amount of compensatory damages.

If the compensatory damages are less than $100,000, punitive damages cannot exceed $300,000.

Comparative Negligence

Which state you reside in will determine to what extent you can be compensated for your losses. For instance, Nevada is a state that follows the modified comparative negligence standard. This means that each party’s ability to collect financially for their losses will be based on his or her percentage of fault.

If both parties contributed to an accident, then each party’s liability will need to be assessed.

If the case is taken to court, then a judge or jury will decide the award amount for each party based on their respective liability.

In states that practice pure comparative negligence, the plaintiff can still recover damages even if they are more at fault for the accident than the defendant.

However, in modified comparative negligence, a driver will be barred from recovery if they are more than 50% at fault for the accident. This is designed so that the person more responsible for the accident cannot take legal recourse.

Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer if a Car Hits you From the Side?

An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to properly handle evidence that is key to your case. This may include photos of the accident scene, eyewitness statements, and a police report. Hiring a dedicated attorney should be your first step before speaking to your insurance company.

Contact A Dedicated Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer

We know how the losses from a car accident impact your life. If you have been injured in a side impact crash, Cloward Trial Lawyers is here to assist you. Contact us today. Pay nothing unless you win.

Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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