Single-Vehicle Accidents

Any car accident can be scary, embarrassing, and financially draining. But, those sensations can be greatly enhanced when the accident involves only one vehicle. Obviously, factors like road conditions, hidden obstacles, and weather conditions can adversely affect one's ability to control a vehicle and can result in an accident. So who will be liable?

A single vehicle collision or single-vehicle accident is, as the name implies, a car collision in which only one vehicle is involved. This can include accidents like running off the road, colliding with fallen rocks, running over debris on the road, losing control of the vehicle and rolling it, hitting animals, and so forth.

Single-vehicle collisions are generally considered to include only those accidents in which the driver/rider and any passengers are the only ones injured. However, this term is also applied on some occasions even when innocent bystanders, like pedestrians or bicyclists, have also been hurt or killed. Single-vehicle collisions generally do not include accidents where others' property
is damaged, such as colliding with a parked vehicle or driving into the side of a building.

Given that only one vehicle is involved, the law generally infers that the person in the best position to avoid the accident is the driver of the vehicle. This is usually as a result of operator error or negligence, like excessive speed, driver fatigue, and alcohol use. Of course, there can be other causes, like environmental and roadway factors such as inclement weather, poor drainage, narrow lanes and shoulders, insufficient curve banking, sharp curves, and others.

Of course, single vehicle accidents can also be as a result of the acts or inactions of others. For example, defective car parts can prevent effective braking or steering. Defects in the roadway can cause a vehicle to lose its steering for a moment or cause a rider to lose control of a motorcycle. Obstacles placed in the roadway, particularly in concealed or unexpected locations, can contribute to a driver's accident. In these instances, the driver may have a cause of action against the person or entity who created the dangerous condition that led to the accident.

Generally, those injured by single-vehicle accidents are subject to liability for negligence in causing the accident. However, as noted, it may be possible to shift this liability to a third party if that person or entity was wholly or partially responsible for creating the conditions that caused the accident. As with any claim for negligence, one must show that a duty was owed to prevent an injury, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the breach directly caused the plaintiff's injuries.

Additionally, the driver may face criminal charges for the accident. For example, a ticket is almost a given, but there could be charges related to driving under the influence, wanton recklessness, and so forth.

For more information about single-vehicle accidents and the possible legal remedies and consequences you should contact an attorney. You can find lists of attorneys in your area on our Law Firms page on

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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