What Is a Single Car Accident?

A single-car accident refers to an accident involving just one vehicle instead of multiple vehicles. The most common single-car accident scenarios involve either:

  • A vehicle that runs off the road
  • A vehicle that hits an object while driving

Passengers who are injured in a single vehicle accident may be eligible to file for compensation under the driver’s liability insurance policy. If the passenger was killed, their family may have a wrongful death claim if the driver is determined to have been negligent.

In other scenarios, the driver may have run off the road or hit an object through no fault of their own. A defective vehicle design or faulty part may be the main causal factor, or the driver could have been traveling down a road that was poorly maintained because of a negligent government agency.

No matter what the cause of a single vehicle accident may have been, know that liability is not always clear. If you or a loved one have been injured in such a collision and are seeking compensation, you can increase your chances of financial recovery by working with an experienced car accident lawyer in Long Island. Call 1-833-TONALAW (1-833-866-2529) or contact us online today to schedule your free, no-risk consultation.

How Often Do Single Vehicle Crashes Happen, and What Causes Them?

Single vehicle crashes are incredibly common, and they can be dangerous. In New York state in 2019,  63% of fatal accidents involved just one vehicle

Many single-car accident scenarios are caused by a driver who is being careless or making a dangerous decision. A 2009 study by the National Highway Safety Transportation Association on fatal single vehicle crashes found that drivers who run off the road were more likely to be speeding, under the influence, or both. They are also likely to have been drowsy, inattentive, or found to have overcorrected while avoiding something before the crash.

In fact, the study went as far as to rank the reasons using linear regression (statistical) analysis:

  1. Drowsy driving
  2. Alcohol use
  3. Severe road curves
  4. Speeding 
  5. Rural roadways
  6. High-speed-limit road
  7. Adverse weather
  8. Crash-avoiding prior to departure from the roadway

Younger drivers also tend to be more likely to be involved in these crashes, as are individuals with multiple passengers. Another major factor in the study was that most vehicles that ran off the road tended to be passenger cars, rather than trucks, vans, or industrial vehicles. 

Other causes of crashes may involve parties who neglected to exercise the level of care expected by the law — AKA businesses or government agencies that were negligent. The most common types of negligence seen in single vehicle accidents (aside from driver negligence) include:

  • A roadway with an unacceptably dangerous design
  • Failure to maintain roadway infrastructure or clear hazards from the road in a timely manner
  • Defective vehicle designs or manufacture
  • Defective part designs or manufacture
  • A driver of another vehicle nearly caused an accident, forcing the other vehicle off the road

Who Is Responsible for the Costs of a Single-Vehicle Accident?

Firstly, both the driver and the passengers in a vehicle will typically be covered by New York’s no-fault insurance policy system. All vehicle owners are, by law, expected to have a “no-fault” personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy. This policy is supposed to cover:

  • Up to $50,000 per accident for “reasonable and necessary” medical treatment costs as well as medical rehabilitation
  • 80% of lost wages, up to $2,000 per month for up to three years
  • Up to $25 a day for “reasonable and necessary” expenses related to the accident, for a period up to one year after the accident date
  • A $2,000 death benefit paid to surviving beneficiaries

One nice feature of the no-fault system is that, after a single-vehicle accident, neither the driver nor their passenger need to prove what caused the accident in order to file for benefits.

Unfortunately, coverage limits and exemptions can mean that injured parties are still left with bills and losses after the PIP policy has been exhausted. In these situations, they will have to seek out other sources of compensation by determining other parties that were liable, such as the following.

The Driver of the Vehicle

We all make mistakes, but when our mistakes injure a passenger, we are legally bound to compensate them for the resulting damages. 

Anyone injured as a passenger has the right to pursue a claim against the liability insurance policy of the driver. They must be prepared to prove that the driver was somehow negligent, failing to meet the expected standard of “ordinary care” as exercised by a “reasonable person”. Common examples include a driver who was obviously speeding, drunk, or otherwise being careless.

The Reckless Driver of Another Vehicle

Single-vehicle accidents often happen when a careless driver nearly causes an accident, forcing another vehicle off the road. In these situations, it may be logically clear what caused the accident, but from a legal standpoint, the accident victim must be able to identify and locate the driver that nearly hit them. The accident victim must also be prepared to somehow prove that the other driver’s negligent behavior was what caused their accident. Since the decision to leave the road was theirs, they must be prepared to refute allegations that they could have found another, safer means to avoid the accident.

Generally speaking, it may be challenging for these cases to result in compensation unless the injured parties are able to prove the identity of the reckless driver and show some sort of documented proof that the other driver nearly caused an accident. These cases can and do result in compensation, but insurers tend to fight against accepting liability unless faced with overwhelming proof.

A Vehicle or Parts Manufacturer 

Many single-vehicle accidents are caused by vehicle failures: faulty brakes, bad steering systems, or overall dangerous designs that make a vehicle more likely to run off the road.

A defective products claim against a vehicle or parts manufacturer can involve a defective design, meaning that the product itself was inherently dangerous and likely to lead to an injury. The claim could also involve defective manufacturing, meaning the part or vehicle was built to poor quality standards and then broke or was unable to perform as expected. There are also “marketing defect” claims, where the promised benefits of a product (and inadequate safety warnings) can lead a driver to think they would be safe in a situation they were not.

The Government Agency Responsible for Designing or Maintaining the Road

Local municipalities as well as state and federal agencies all share responsibility for maintaining our country’s roads. To a certain extent, these agencies are shielded from liability in a situation where someone hits an object in the middle of the road that shouldn’t have been there, or if for example, a road’s rail guards broke on impact. However, if the injury victim (or their surviving family) can prove that there was a pattern of negligence and that pattern directly led to the accident, then the claim against the government could succeed.

Filing a claim against a government agency of any type will involve special documenting requirements and strict deadlines. Get in touch with a firm experienced in claims against government agencies, like TonaLaw, to give your case a high chance of success.

Call TonaLaw When You Have Been Hurt in a Single Vehicle Accident

Single-vehicle accidents may sound straightforward to the average person, but they are often anything but. Complicated factors and powerful defendants can mean that the injured claimant will need professional help to seek the compensation they desperately need.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to talk to a lawyer with experience. Schedule a risk-free, no-cost case review with a Long Island single vehicle accident attorney today when you call 1-833-TONALAW (1-833-866-2529) or contact us online.

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