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San Diego Car Accidents & Injury Lawyers

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Single Vehicle Accidents

Single-vehicle accidents, as the name suggests, involve only one motor vehicle. These types of accidents can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as driver negligence or recklessness. However, it is important to note that the driver is not always held responsible for the accident. If you have suffered significant injuries or incurred significant property damage, disputing a fault finding can be crucial.

What is a Single-Vehicle Accident?

By definition, single-vehicle accidents involve just one car, truck, or other type of motor vehicle. Typical examples include:

  • The driver hits an object on or along the side of the road (like a guardrail or a tree).
  • The driver swerves to avoid another vehicle, a pedestrian, an animal, a road hazard, or something else, and runs off the road or the vehicle rolls over, spins out, or leaves the road, due to the driver’s loss of control of the vehicle or some other cause.
  • As with any other kind of car accident, the things you do in the immediate aftermath of the crash (and in the days following) will play a crucial part in any insurance claim or legal action you decide to pursue.

Causes of Single-Vehicle Accidents

Single-vehicle crashes can stem from a number of causes, including driver negligence or even recklessness. However, it’s important to note that the driver isn’t always considered at fault for a single vehicle accident. Disputing a fault finding can be crucial if you suffered significant injury in the accident and/or the crash caused extensive property damage. Some of the common causes of single-vehicle accidents include:

  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents. Distracted driving includes activities such as talking on the phone, texting, eating, and even adjusting the radio.
  • Drowsy driving: Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are feeling tired, it is important to pull over and rest before continuing your journey.
  • Driving under the influence: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can impair your ability to drive safely, and increase your risk of getting into a single-vehicle accident.
  • Weather conditions: Weather conditions such as rain, snow, and ice can make it more difficult to control your vehicle and increase your risk of a single-vehicle accident.
  • Reckless driving: Reckless driving includes actions such as speeding, tailgating, and running red lights. Reckless driving increases the risk of getting into an accident.

Liability (fault) in Single-Vehicle Accidents

Single-car accidents are also no different than other traffic accidents in the sense that there’s always an underlying cause. It’s certainly true that the driver is often found at fault for the accident, but there are plenty of scenarios in which blame for a single-vehicle accident lies elsewhere. The fault can be determined by investigating the accident, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence such as video footage.

If it’s determined that you were to blame for your single car accident, you might still be able to make a car insurance claim, if you have certain kinds of coverage as part of your policy. For example:

  • Your own personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (“MedPay”) coverage can pay for treatment of your car accident injuries, your lost income stemming from the crash, and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of the cause of the accident.
  • Your own collision coverage would pay to get your car fixed or replaced after the crash, even if you caused it.
  • And beyond car insurance, don’t forget that your own health insurance coverage will pay for treatment of any car accident injuries you sustain in a single-vehicle accident.

It’s important to note that certain kinds of losses (or “damages”) won’t be recoverable under any kind of insurance policy, including compensation for your non-economic losses (i.e. physical or mental pain and suffering).

Finally, note that if you’re found at fault for your single-car accident and you end up making a claim under your own car insurance policy, you might see your rates go up.

Injuries in a Single Vehicle Accident

Injuries sustained in a single vehicle accident can vary depending on the circumstances of the accident. They can range from minor cuts and bruises to serious injuries such as broken bones, head injuries, and internal injuries. In severe cases, a single vehicle accident can result in death. Factors that can contribute to the severity of injuries in a single vehicle accident include the speed of the vehicle, the safety features of the vehicle, and whether or not the occupants were wearing seat belts or other safety gear.

Consequences of Single-Vehicle Accidents

Single-vehicle accidents can result in a variety of consequences, including injuries, property damage, and even death. The consequences can be severe, and in some cases, life-altering. Additionally, the cost of repairs or medical treatment can also be a significant financial burden.

It’s never a good idea to leave the scene of any car accident (even a single-vehicle crash) without taking reasonable steps to:

  • make sure no one was hurt
  • determine the extent of property damage, and
  • locate and/or notify the owner of any damaged property.
  • Even if your single-vehicle accident only resulted in damage to your own car and to someone else’s property (a parked car, a fence, a structure, etc.), the traffic laws in your state might require you to stop and make some reasonable effort to locate the owner of the property, or at least report the accident to law enforcement or another authority.

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you’re alone in your vehicle at the scene of your accident, that doesn’t mean:

  • you were the only driver (or person) involved
  • yours was the only vehicle involved, or
  • the accident was entirely your fault

When a driver is found to be at fault for a single-vehicle accident, there are various potential outcomes that may occur. These can include receiving traffic tickets, being held financially responsible for damages and injuries, facing criminal charges, and more.

  • Traffic Tickets
    In the event of a single-vehicle accident where the driver is found to be at fault, they may receive a ticket from law enforcement for violating traffic laws. The driver has the right to contest the ticket in court and present their side of the story to a judge. Points may also be added to their driver’s license.
  • Paying Own Bills
    If the driver is held responsible for the accident and they do not have insurance to cover it, they may have to pay their own medical bills and other expenses. However, it’s important to consult with a car accident attorney before making any decisions about a potential case.
  • Criminal Charges
    In certain cases, such as drunk or reckless driving, a driver may face criminal charges if they are found to be at fault for a single-vehicle accident. It is crucial for the driver to contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect their rights and defend against these charges.
  • Exceptions to Liability
    It is important to note that there may be exceptions to driver liability in single-vehicle accidents. For example, if another vehicle caused the driver to swerve and crash, or if the accident was caused by a vehicle malfunction, the driver may not be held liable.
  • Potential Outcomes of Non-Liability
    In cases where the driver is not found to be at fault, they may have the right to hold the responsible party accountable for damages. This can include other drivers, vehicle manufacturers, or government entities.

Navigating the Aftermath of a Single-Vehicle Accident

Single-vehicle accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including driver negligence or recklessness. The driver may not always be held liable for the accident. It is crucial to investigate the accident and determine the cause of the accident in order to understand the liability. Single-vehicle accidents can have severe consequences, including injuries, property damage, and even death. Additionally, the cost of repairs or medical treatment can also be a significant financial burden. It is important to follow the proper procedures in the aftermath of a single-vehicle accident, including staying at the scene and notifying the authorities.


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