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What is a Single Car Accident, How Common Are They?


Published in Car Accidents,negligence,Personal Injury on August 7, 2017.

There’s no denying that it’s stressful, frightening, and often embarrassing to be involved in an automobile accident – as well as straining on one’s finances. However, when you’re in an accident that involves only one vehicle, all those negative emotions and stigma feel especially strong. Of course, the driver isn’t always automatically at fault, even in a single-vehicle crash, and it’s important to consider the effect of factors such as road and weather conditions and unseen obstacles. When just one car is involved in a crash, however, the question remains: who is liable?

What Is a Single-Vehicle Accident?

As the name suggests, a single-vehicle accident or collision is a crash that involves just one vehicle. Examples of these types of accidents include running off of the road; crashing into a tree, pole, or other obstacle; running over unexpected debris; hitting a deer or other animal; losing control of your vehicle; and so on.

Usually, a single-vehicle accident is one in which the only injuries sustained are those of the driver (or rider in the case of a motorcycle accident) and any passengers. The term can sometimes be applied in cases where bystanders, such as pedestrians or cyclists, have been injured or killed, as well. In most cases, if another person’s property has been damaged as a result of the accident (for example, driving into a building or side-swiping a parked car) this would not be considered a single-vehicle collision.

How Common Are Single-Vehicle Wrecks?

Single-vehicle accidents are quite common. In 2009, 61% of fatal crashes nationwide involved just one vehicle. While it’s important to know that you aren’t alone if you’ve been involved in a single-vehicle collision, it is just as important to be aware of the laws surrounding liability in these types of crashes.

Who Is Liable?

By definition, a single-vehicle crash involves just one driver, so in most cases the law assumes that the driver was the person who could most likely have prevented the accident from happening. Examples of driver error or negligence in the case of single-vehicle accidents include speeding, drowsy driving, or drunk driving. External factors in the environment and on the road can come into play as well, including severe weather, improper drainage on the road, lanes or shoulders that are too narrow, lack of sufficient banking, or curves that are too sharp, among others.

It’s also possible, though less common, for the actions of other people to cause a single-vehicle accident. One recent notable example is the massive recall of Takata airbags. These airbags have defective mechanisms that caused them to go off unexpectedly at random, causing the driver to crash and resulting a single-vehicle crash. Road defects can also cause a vehicle to lose control momentarily without fault on the part of the driver. However, it’s important to realize that these cases are rarer and in most single-vehicle crashes, the driver is likely to be liable

Legal Options in a Single-Vehicle Accident

If you were the driver in a single-vehicle accident, you’ll generally be subject to liability for negligence. This means that if you were the only one injured, you’ll have to deal with your insurance company to see what it’ll cover in terms of your property damage and medical expenses. If other passengers in your car were  injured in the crash, and you were negligent you may be liable for covering their damages.Remember, it’s possible for you to shift your liability to a third-party if that person or entity played some role in bringing about the conditions that caused the crash.

The driver in a single-vehicle accident could possibly face criminal charges. For example, in the case of an accident that happened due to the driver’s excessive speed, a ticketed fine would likely be issued. However, there is also a possibility of other charges in cases of driving under the influence and other dangerous driving behaviors that may lead to accidents.