Side Swipe Motorcycle Accidents

January 2, 2024
By Michael Padway

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One of the most common types of motorcycle accidents are side swipe incidents. While a side swipe may just result in dented panels for most four-wheel vehicles, motorcycles are at greater risk of damage and rider injury due to their relatively smaller mass.

What is a side swipe motorcycle accident?

A side swipe accident occurs when a vehicle swerves into a lane occupied by a motorcycle, resulting in a hit or side collision. Side swipe accidents are often caused by:

In the NHTSA’s Analysis of Lane Changes Crashes, it was found that sideswipes often involve the driver’s failure to look in front, to the sides, or compensate for blind spots.

What type of damages can result from a side swipe accident?

The motorcycle is often worse off in side swipe incidents. Common damages in order of least to most severe include:

Superficial damage – The paint may suffer scratches, streaks, or outright stripping, especially if the bike ends up sliding. Fenders, mirrors, and other body parts may suffer dents and dings.

Structural damage – Major parts of the bike such as the gas tank, suspension fork or engine components may be damaged and require extensive repairs or replacement.

Totaled motorcycle – In severe accidents, the entire bike may be written off.

Modern passenger cars also have reinforced sides, as a result of the revised IIHS focus on side impact safety. These include stronger passenger compartments, door reinforcements, and higher beltlines to house safety devices like side-impact airbags. All of these mean that motorcycle riders face a higher injury and damage mismatch in the event of a sideswipe with a passenger car.

What injuries can be caused by side swipe accidents?

Depending on the speed, hit location, and outcome, sideswipe injuries can range from minor to severe, even fatal. Possible injuries include:

Lacerations – Riders can suffer lacerations, road rash, or deep gashes from the collision itself or the resulting fall.

Broken extremities – Wrists, arms, or legs may be broken, and may require surgical intervention and extended hospital stay to heal.

Concussion – Head injuries are the most serious type of potential injury, even when wearing a helmet. A concussion can cause recurrent headaches, partial memory loss, impaired motor coordination, and blurred vision. Preliminary diagnosis may require an MRI scan, and serious cases can involve weeks or months of recovery.

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What to do in case of a side swipe accident

  1. Check injuries
    • Treat injuries from most to least severe. Watch out for blood loss, gaping wounds, or broken bones.
    • Pay attention to your head. Watch for signs of trauma or neck damage.
    • When in doubt about your condition, stay still to avoid exacerbating injuries. Wait for medical help to arrive.
  2. Document the incident
    • If your injuries are not life-threatening, document the damage to your body, equipment, and bike.
    • If you have a dashcam, lock the footage to prevent it from being overwritten. Secure the memory card and download a copy to your mobile phone.
    • Record the bike’s resting position and aftermath of the accident for insurance and investigation.
    • Get the other vehicle’s license tags, driver’s details, and insurance information.
  3. Keep track of all repair and medical bills
    • Keep a copy of the towing bills, repair estimates, and official receipts for labor, parts, and replacement incurred during the repair.
    • Preserve medical documentation such as doctor’s findings, hospital bills, and prescription expenses for your personal injury claim.
  4. File a claim
    • Consult with a personal injury attorney that specializes in motorcycle law, since motorcycle accidents are different and can often be more serious than regular automotive accidents.
    • In addition to personal injury and property damage, you may be entitled to other compensation such as lost wages, pain and suffering, or emotional trauma from the accident.
    • Remember that a statute of limitations apply, so file a claim as soon as possible.

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Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

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