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Who Is At Fault In A Sideswiped Car Accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee?

Who Is At Fault In A Sideswiped Car Accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee

A sideswiped car accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee can be jarring and disorienting. These incidents occur when two vehicles collide side-on, anywhere from busy urban roads to open highways. Whether looking for insights on determining fault, navigating insurance claims, or understanding legal implications, you may want to reach out to the car accident attorneys at Hall & Lampros, LLP who have secured over $400 million in damages for clients. Schedule a consultation by calling 404-876-8100.

How Is Fault Determined in a Sideswipe Accident?

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a sideswipe occurs when one vehicle hits the side of another. Determining fault in a sideswipe accident is like piecing together a complex puzzle. Putting those pieces together requires a full examination of the circumstances and evidence surrounding the incident. In the end, investigators and insurance adjusters are often able to pinpoint which driver’s actions or negligence led to the collision. There are some key elements that can be used to determine fault in a sideswipe accident.

Lane Usage

All drivers are expected to abide by the rules of the road by staying in their lanes and maintaining proper clearance from other vehicles. If one driver strays from their lane and triggers the sideswipe, they could be at fault. Sideswipe accidents commonly occur during lane changes, according to the NHTSA. However, sideswipe accidents do also occur under other circumstances, and the driver changing lanes is not always at fault.


Turn signals are the language of the road. When changing lanes or merging onto highways, these signals show a driver’s intent on the road. A driver who neglects to signal and causes a sideswipe may be held accountable.

Speed and Control

The speed at which the vehicles are moving and the control the drivers maintain are also key factors. A driver who was speeding, driving aggressively, or failing to maintain control of their vehicle could be found at fault.

Eyewitness Accounts and Evidence

Eyewitnesses can provide invaluable narratives of what happened. Their accounts, in combination with physical evidence from the scene, can help reconstruct the sequence of events. Video footage from dash cams or security cameras, skid marks on the road, and other evidence can also help to shed light on the incident.

Police Reports

Law enforcement officers often prepare an accident report upon arriving at the scene. This report may include their assessment of fault based on their observations of the scene, interviews with those involved, and any statements they take from witnesses. The information collected in a police report can often be a significant factor in determining fault.

State Traffic Laws

Any violations of these laws, such as illegal lane changes or failure to yield right-of-way, can influence fault determination. Violations of these laws may also lead to the driver being cited by law enforcement. If one of the drivers involved receives a ticket connected with the incident, that may suggest liability and help to determine who is at fault.

At-Fault Liability System

Tennessee follows a traditional at-fault liability system for injuries and property damage. This means that the driver who is determined to be at fault is responsible for the resulting damages. However, Tennessee also uses comparative negligence. This means that if one driver is mostly at-fault for the accident, but the second driver is found to bear some fault for the accident, the second driver’s compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault. To illustrate:  A driver who is found to be 30% responsible for the accident will have their potential compensation for damages reduced by the same percentage as their degree of responsibility. If both parties are found to be equally to blame, neither party will be able to get compensation for their injuries or property damage.

The specific circumstances of the collision play a role. Sometimes, fault is not always black and white. Both drivers may share some responsibility, with the degree of fault varying between them. Unraveling this puzzle often involves insurance companies, law enforcement officers, or even legal professionals. If you have any questions about fault determination in your specific case, reach out to Hall & Lampros, LLP, to discuss your situation.  

What Happens if You Sideswipe a Car?

In the event of a sideswiped car accident, there are a series of steps that typically unfold. Here is what drivers can expect:

  • Information exchange: Drivers may want to exchange contact and insurance details for a smoother claims process.
  • Police involvement: Tennessee law requires drivers to report the incident to the police to get an accident report.
  • Damage assessment: In the post-collision phase, both drivers should evaluate the damage to their vehicles. The damages can range from minor scratches to severe structural damage.
  • Insurance claims: Both drivers should reach out to their insurance companies to help determine liability and get the vehicles repaired. 
  • Repairs and compensation: When a driver is at fault, their insurance will cover damages to the other party’s vehicle. Legal consequences: Severe negligence or reckless driving leading to injuries may result in traffic citations or personal injury claims against the at-fault driver.
  • Resolution and settlement: Insurance companies attempt to resolve claims, potentially involving negotiations and settlement offers. If no agreement is reached, the case may go to court.

Cooperation with law enforcement, prompt reporting to your insurance company, and consultation with legal professionals or insurance experts can ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.

Can You Tell Who Sideswiped Whom?

Determining who initiated a sideswipe accident involves analyzing: 

  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Physical evidence
  • Video footage
  • Damage patterns
  • Driver statements

In some complex cases, accident reconstruction experts may be called upon. If a driver disputes the findings of an investigation, they may want to consult with legal professionals for assistance. 

Reach Out to Our Atlanta Legal Team

If you have been involved in a sideswiped car accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee, you may want to have an experienced legal team at your side. Contact Hall & Lampros, LLP by calling 404-876-8100 to set up an initial consultation.

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