| Read Time: 4 minutes | Truck Accidents
18-Wheeler Sideswipes—What to Do During Lane Changes

Sideswipe accidents happen when two vehicles are traveling in the same direction, and one of those vehicles hits the side of the other. These are dangerous accidents, but significantly more so when one of the vehicles is an 18-wheeler truck. An 18-wheeler sideswipe accident can be deadly. Defensive driving can help reduce the risk of a sideswipe collision. If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a sideswipe accident with an 18-wheeler truck, contact the Georgia truck accident lawyers at MG Law.

We understand how terrifying a truck accident sideswipe collision can be and want to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. When someone else’s negligence results in severe injuries, you have the legal right to pursue a personal injury claim. Accidents involving 18-wheeler trucks often involve complex legal issues that an experienced attorney can help you more easily navigate. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist.

Sideswipe Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2016 and 2020, there were 216,684 large truck sideswipe injury-causing collisions across the country. Total injury-causing collisions involving a large truck totaled 1,079,034. That means sideswipe collisions accounted for about 20% of all the large truck accidents that caused injuries during those four years.

There were 3,227,009 large truck accidents in which there was only property damage between 2016 and 2020, with sideswipe accidents accounting for about 36% of those accidents.

Determining Fault in an 18-Wheeler Sideswipe

All vehicles, 18-wheeler trucks included, must stay in their respective lanes. Drivers shouldn’t exit that lane until it’s safe to do so. The driver who made the improper lane change is usually at fault. However, it’s not always easy to determine who left their lane. Both parties are likely to allege it was the other driver.

Sometimes the location and type of damage can provide some clues. Most times, though, witness statements and reports from accident reconstruction experts provide the most insight. Witness accounts might not always match driver accounts, so obtaining as much evidence as possible is crucial to support your claim for damages.

Blind Spots on 18-Wheeler Trucks

Eighteen-wheeler trucks have enormous blind spots, which can obscure pedestrians, vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles. You’ll find four main blind spots located:

  • Directly in front of the truck;
  • Directly behind the truck; and
  • On each side of the truck, close to the mirrors.

Even if the truck has oversized mirrors, they can’t eliminate all blind spots. Accidents involving blind spots can occur due to either driver’s actions. Sometimes vehicles get into a truck’s blind spot, making it hard for the truck driver to spot them. Other times, a truck driver might be distracted or tired and not check their blind spots before changing lanes.

Examples of Fault in an 18-Wheeler Sideswipe

Some of the potential causes of a sideswipe collision include the following:

  • Not checking blind spots before changing lanes,
  • Not making sure there’s enough room to make a lane change,
  • Speeding or driving too fast for current conditions,
  • Distracted driving and drifting into another lane,
  • Cutting off a vehicle,
  • Not signaling,
  • Failure to turn headlights on at night,
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
  • Hydroplaning, and
  • Road rage.

In some situations, the driver who didn’t change lanes could share some blame. Drivers must pay attention to other vehicles and trucks around them and drive at a safe speed. Making a lane change for 18-wheelers takes time. If another driver suddenly starts speeding up or slowing down or intentionally refuses to let the truck in, they could share a percentage of the fault.

Sideswipe Accidents and Merging

There are multiple ways merging can cause a sideswipe accident. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Not using a turn signal,
  • Merging too quickly,
  • Cutting off another vehicle,
  • Merging too slowly,
  • Hesitating when starting to merge, and
  • Not checking for cars in the next lane.

Non-merging drivers must be alert when approaching a spot where other vehicles might be entering the same roadway. Non-merging drivers should adjust their speed accordingly and not purposefully do something that could cause an accident. Not slowing down and tailgating the vehicle in front are two ways a non-merging driver can contribute to a sideswipe collision.

Who Is at Fault When Both Vehicles Are Changing Lanes?

Some sideswipe accidents occur when a vehicle and an 18-wheeler change lanes simultaneously. This situation typically happens on roads with three or more lanes traveling in one direction, like an interstate highway. When a vehicle from the outside lane and a vehicle from the inside lane both try to move to the middle lane at the same time, it can result in a sideswipe collision. Both drivers might share liability in this situation as they both must ensure the lane is free and clear before entering.

Drivers of vehicles or 18-wheeler trucks who don’t look two lanes over could miss someone else moving into the middle lane. Drivers who switch in and out of lanes to avoid traffic can also cause an accident in the middle lane. Some reckless drivers quickly change lanes multiple times or move through several different lanes without ever looking, which further increases the risk of a sideswipe accident.

Watching for Blind Spots

All drivers must drive defensively and watch out for blind spots, especially if driving near an 18-wheeler truck. Some tips for avoiding an 18-wheeler sideswipe accident include the following:

  • Don’t follow too closely, and keep a safe distance;
  • Be cautious when you’re overtaking another vehicle, especially an 18-wheeler truck; and
  • Don’t cut off an 18-wheeler truck.

Keeping a safe distance from an 18-wheeler truck can help avoid many types of accidents, including sideswipe collisions.

Contact Our Firm to Inquire About Your Case

If you were in a sideswipe accident involving an 18-wheeler truck, the legal team at MG Law stands ready to help. We’re proud of our reputation for success and will fight tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve. An 18-wheeler sideswipe collision can involve severe injuries. Let us help you recover the maximum compensation possible so that you can pay your medical bills and be compensated for your pain and suffering. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.

Author Photo

Michael Geoffroy’s law practice focuses on auto collisions, premises liability, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury, and he stands up for the cause of justice throughout Georgia and on behalf of his clients every day. He is a leader in both the courtroom and the community, having been recognized numerous times for his involvement in each.