Side Impact Collisions

Side impact collisions can occur when one driver runs a red light or stop sign, fails to yield to oncoming traffic, makes a turn without looking, or engages in other reckless or inattentive behavior. In addition, a side crash may occur if a car spins out of control, hitting another car or a fixed object like a telephone pole. Unfortunately, this type of collision is remarkably common: a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that side impact collisions were the most common type of crash in urban areas.1  In 2009, there were 37 fatalities and 1,849 injuries associated with crashes where the driver failed to obey a stop or yield sign in Alabama.2

In addition to being very common, side impact collisions are extremely deadly. Side crashes are responsible for approximately 25% of the deaths of passengers in the U.S. Unlike in rear-end and head-on collisions, there is relatively little protection for the driver and the passengers in the vehicle. There are fewer “crumple zones,” or areas of the car that absorb the force from the other car. This means that the driver and passengers absorb more of the impact from the collision, which often causes more serious injuries.3 The closer an occupant is to the side of the car that is struck, the higher the risk for a serious injury or even death.

In a side impact crash, the passengers of the car that is hit can be sharply thrown from side to side in the car. During the crash, the passengers may hit their head, torso, arms, and legs against the side of their car, flying debris, or even the vehicle that struck them. Seat belts, which are very effective at preventing injuries in other types of car accidents, are not as helpful in side crashes. Frequently, people involved in this type of accident experience injuries to the head, neck, and torso, including concussion, brain damage, damage to the vertebrae and spine in the neck and back, rib fractures, broken bones, internal injuries, and more. These injuries can be very serious and can have a negative, long-lasting impact on the victim’s life.

Unfortunately, side impact collisions can be hard to avoid. While drivers can keep a safe following distance to avoid a rear-end collision or maintain their car properly to help avoid a single car accident, it is nearly impossible to predict when another driver will run a red light or a stop sign. To stay safe, it can help to make sure that you are aware of the surrounding traffic at all times. Don’t assume that the other driver will stop at a stop sign or merge correctly, even if you have the right of way. If you are in the market for a new car, look for a model with side airbags and strong side beams, which can help prevent injury.

To stay safe, download our detailed guide on what to do if you are in a car accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, we can help. During your free and confidential consultation, we can discuss how our Huntsville, AL car accident lawyers can assist you in getting the compensation you need. Our firm represents personal injury victims throughout Alabama. You don’t have to pay if we do not make a recovery for you, so there is no risk in calling. Click here to find out the questions you should ask a potential personal injury attorney.

Email us or call us at (256) 533-1667 to learn how we can help you get compensation for your injuries.


State of Alabama Highway Safety Plan, Fiscal Year 2011