Liability/fault in a single car accident is not always a simple determination. Collisions often result in damage to the vehicles involved and injuries to the drivers or passengers. Determining who is at fault dictates who is responsible for covering the costs resulting from the collision.
A common occurrence
Although most people associate collisions with multiple cars, not all car accidents involve a second vehicle. In fact, a 2016 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found over 55 percent of all fatal crashes only involved a single car. New Mexico exceeded the national average with over 61 percent of fatal car accidents only involving one vehicle. Bear in mind, the report only accounts for fatal crashes so the percentage of single car accidents is likely higher.
When an accident is not an accident
If another party’s negligence and not driver error caused the single vehicle accident, the accident victim may be entitled to recover damages from the at fault party.
- Vehicle malfunction: Vehicles with defective brakes, uncontrolled acceleration problems and faulty auto steering continue to make headlines when they cause crashes. When a vehicle malfunctions and causes an accident, it may be possible to hold the manufacturer liable under a product liability claim.
- Negligence: If an inattentive driver or cyclist acted negligently, causing you to react and then crash, they can be held liable. For instance, all motorists owe a duty of care to others on the road to drive safely. Negligence in the form of reckless or distracted driving breaches that duty.
- Poor road condition: It may be possible to hold the managing entity of the road responsible in cases where the accident is a result of a large pothole or debris in the road. The same would apply in cases of malfunctioning stoplights or non-visible road signs.
After a single car accident access your own safety. If you do not require immediate medical assistance, take the time to be your own witness and gather evidence relating to the crash. Helpful evidence includes photos of the scene and damages. Exchange information with the other party if the accident involved anyone else. Calling the police is also a good idea so you have an official record of the accident.
Fighting your insurance company and any potentially liable parties is an uphill battle, but you do not have to fight the battle alone. Consider working with a personal injury attorney who can work on your behalf to negotiate a fair settlement with all parties.