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Single-Vehicle Collisions and Your Legal Options

May 21, 2018

“Individuals involved in single-vehicle collisions (accidents where only one automobile was involved) may still have a personal injury claim.”

A single-vehicle collision is a type of traffic accident where only one driver is involved. Around 50% of all automobile accidents in the U.S. are considered single-vehicle. Likewise, about 50% of all traffic fatalities in the country involve only one driver.

The assumption is that a single-vehicle accident is a result of user-error. Although this is true the majority of the time, there are instances where a single-car collision is not the fault of the driver. In these cases, injured individuals can file a personal injury claim against the responsible parties.

Causes of Single Vehicle Collisions

The causes of single-car accidents vary greatly. According to the Department of Transportation, excessive speed, driver fatigue, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs contribute to the majority of single-driver accidents. Dangerous weather conditions and difficult passes can also play a part.

Notice that these factors are all considered “user error”. In other words, the driver has no real legal basis for a lawsuit in these instances; the accident occurred as a result of the driver’s own poor judgment, carelessness, and perhaps bad luck.

However, there are other instances where a single vehicle collisions is not the fault of the driver and is, in fact, the fault of somebody else. Here are a few examples:

  • Improperly Maintained Roadways: public roads are supposed to be kept in safe, drivable conditions. When state or city agencies fail to maintain their roads and it leads to an accident, the injured individual is entitled to file a claim.

  • Other Drivers: in some instances, another driver’s negligence can cause you harm and injury, even though the at-fault individual wasn’t involved in the accident. For example, if a driver crosses the median and forces you to swerve off the path, the careless driver is at fault, even if they didn’t swerve off the road themselves.

  • Faulty Equipment: Sometimes single vehicle accidents are a result of equipment or part malfunction (such as a failure in the break-lines). Again, the resulting single-vehicle collision was no fault of your own, thus a claim can—and often-times should—be filed.

  • Poor Road Design: Some roadways and passes are just poorly designed, and result in hazardous conditions for drivers. Although this is more difficult to evidence in a court of law, if multiple drivers are affected by the same stretch of road, there is likely a legal basis to recover compensation.

In each of these situations, the driver involved was injured through the fault of another. If the responsibility for the accident belongs to another person or institution, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to compensate you for your medical bills, missed time from work, property damage, and general pain & suffering.

Who’s Responsible for Single Vehicle Collisions ?

As stated before, single-vehicle accidents vary greatly. Thus, there is no designated responsible party when the accident isn’t user-error. Those liable will depend on the facts of the case.

For example, if your auto accident was the result of a faulty power-steering column, the manufacturer of the part would be at-fault. A parts liability claim would be filed against the manufacturer of the malfunctioning equipment. Similarly, if poor road design or unmaintained roadways led to your single-vehicle collision, action could be taken against the county, city, or state responsible for keeping the roads.