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Who Is at Fault in a Sideswipe Car Accident?

cars driving on a busy highway

Understanding who is to blame for a sideswipe accident can be challenging. These side-impact accidents can lead to serious injuries that accumulate hundreds of thousands in damages. That makes it important to seek the counsel of a reputable Minnesota car accident lawyer.

The savvy legal team at Milavetz Injury Law, P.A., has the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you recover the maximum compensation for your damages. We will fight to help you determine the liable parties and hold them accountable for the full extent of their actions. We have the resources to conduct a thorough investigation and gather the necessary evidence to prove your claim.

Call us at 763-560-0000 to schedule your free case evaluation. The sooner we speak to you, the sooner we can start working on your behalf.

What Is a Sideswipe Car Accident?

A sideswipe car accident occurs when the side of one car scrapes along the side of another vehicle or crashes into it. The vehicles may travel in any direction, and one vehicle could even be stationary.

How Do Sideswipe Car Accidents Happen in Minnesota?

Common situations in which sideswipe accidents occur:

  • Same-direction sideswipe accident: A driver changing lanes veers into another vehicle traveling in the same direction.
  • Opposite-direction sideswipe accident: A driver drifts into oncoming traffic and skims the side of an oncoming vehicle.
  • Stationary sideswipe accident: A driver scrapes a parked car on the side of the street.

Slick, snow-covered roads in winter can increase the potential for traffic accidents, including sideswipe car accidents. Between 2016 and 2020, winter road conditions contributed to 79,165 accidents, 19,218 injuries, and 181 deaths in Minnesota.

Liability for Sideswipe Car Accidents in Minnesota

Determining who is at fault in a sideswipe accident can be difficult. Liability for such an accident is often not as clear-cut and easy to establish as a rear-end or head-on accident. Understanding your rights and Minnesota car accident law is important when you seek compensation after a sideswipe crash.

Minnesota is a no-fault car crash state. When you have an auto accident, you generally rely on your own insurance for compensation, regardless of which driver was at fault. In Minnesota, the following types of insurance are required:

  • Personal injury protection
  • Liability
  • Underinsurance coverage
  • Uninsured

Optional insurance policies include collision insurance and comprehensive insurance.

No-fault coverage is often misunderstood. While many drivers believe their insurance will cover all damages from an accident, this is untrue. No-fault coverage only covers expenses resulting from your injuries in an accident. No-fault coverage is intended to ease the burden of state courts by reducing the number of personal injury lawsuits filed while ensuring prompt medical treatment for car crash victims.

You may need to file a claim against the liable party when accidents result in serious injuries with substantial expenses. When legal claims are necessary, liability becomes a critical factor.

Can Multiple Parties Be Held Responsible?

Multiple parties can be held responsible for sideswipe car accidents in Minnesota. If the case goes to trial, the court will determine the degree of fault each party shares. It will then allocate liability accordingly.

Shared liability is also known as comparative fault or comparative negligence. Minnesota operates under a modified comparative negligence system.

Minnesota's Modified Comparative Negligence Laws

Minnesota has a modified comparative negligence law that allows you to recover damages from your legal claim even if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, you must not be more responsible than the defendant for the accident.

Minnesota's 51 Percent Bar Rule

Minnesota uses a 51 percent bar rule. This prevents you from recovering any damages if you are more than 50 percent responsible for the accident.

Having an experienced lawyer who understands sideswipe accidents and Minnesota’s liability laws is critical. This is especially true if the court finds you share fault for the accident.

Proportional Reduction of Damages

If the court determines you share fault for the accident, it will reduce your total compensation by the percentage of your fault, as long as you were not mostly responsible for the accident.

For example, if the court finds you are 12 percent at fault for an accident that caused you $100,000 in damages, it will reduce your award by 12 percent, leaving you with $88,000.

Sideswipe Car Accident Fault

You must establish negligence to succeed in a sideswipe car accident lawsuit in Minnesota court. Negligence claims require proof of each of the following elements:

  • Duty of care: Drivers have a duty of care to other people on Minnesota’s roads. They must obey traffic laws and drive with reasonable caution.
  • Breach of duty: If a driver engages in reckless or unlawful behavior, the court may find they have breached the duty of care. Examples include drifting into another lane, changing lanes without signaling, and failing to obey traffic lights.
  • Causation: Once a party establishes a breach of this duty of care, they must establish the breach of duty caused the accident. This is the stage when courts apportion the percentage of each party’s fault for the accident.
  • Damages: The court will consider the amount of damages you suffered. If the court does not find you more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you will recover your damages minus the percentage of your fault.
  • Example: Bob was driving five miles per hour over the speed limit when Ann ran a stop sign and sideswiped Bob’s car. The court found that Bob was 10 percent at fault for the accident due to his speeding. The court determined Bob’s total damages to be $10,000, but Ann only had to pay $9,000 because the court subtracted Bob’s 10 percent.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

The distribution of fault between multiple parties can impact your compensation. In complex cases involving multiple liable parties, it is wise to consult a Minneapolis car accident lawyer who can analyze your claim and evaluate your damages.

Your attorney will guide you through the legal process to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable for their damages while protecting your rights. They can shoulder the stress of a legal claim so you can focus on your health and recovery.

Contact Milavetz Injury Law

If you or your loved one have been injured in a sideswipe car accident in Minnesota, getting assistance from Milavetz Injury Law is the right choice. Our firm has:

Contact us today to arrange your free consultation.

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