Updated January 26, 2021 | Auto Accidents

Everything You Need to Know About Single-Vehicle Accidents

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Single-Vehicle Accidents

Being involved in a car accident can change an individual’s entire life in a matter of seconds. The financial expenses mixed with potential physical and emotional trauma can dent savings, disrupt life plans, and negatively affect a person’s mental health. By definition, a single-vehicle accident involves only one vehicle. A single-vehicle crash can happen in a variety of ways:

  • Driving off the road
  • Running over objects or debris on the road
  • Rolling the vehicle
  • Hitting animals
  • Colliding with rocks or trees
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Distracted driving

Typically, a single-car accident applies only to collisions in which those in the primary vehicle are the only ones injured. However, it is sometimes considered single-vehicle when innocent bystanders or bicyclists are hurt as well. Accidents that involve damage to others’ property, such as a building or parked car, are not considered single-vehicle collisions.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

It is a natural reaction to want to remove yourself from the stressful situation of a vehicle accident as soon as possible. Even if nobody is hurt and no property is damaged, it is still a misdemeanor to flee the scene of a single-car accident before there is an official record.

Especially if there is a chance the collision was not the driver’s fault, it’s important to carefully document the details of the crash and get the car towed to a mechanic from the site. The more thorough an insurance claim is, the better the chances of receiving help or making a case against the third parties in question.

If the collision does damage property or hurt someone, leaving the scene becomes a criminal matter. This will result in a hit-and-run felony charge, which can be punishable by jail time depending on the damage or injury caused. No matter how scary it may seem to face consequences, it’s always a better option to deal with punishment up front than making things worse by fleeing.

Approaching Insurance Claims

Depending on the driver’s insurance, making claims can be more or less difficult. With collision insurance, for example, single-car accidents are covered. Collision insurance helps contribute to the cost of vehicle repairs or replacements when the car is damaged in an accident. Comprehensive insurance pays for damage caused by other events the driver has no control over, such as theft, weather, or vandalism. The driver must have some type of coverage and ample information to prove the cause of the accident to file a successful claim.

More often than not, the liability of a single-vehicle accident is assigned to the driver of the primary vehicle as it’s assumed they were in the best position to have avoided the collision. Here are some situations where the driver is held accountable:

  • The driver makes an operator error
  • Negligence of traffic laws
  • Speeding
  • The driver is fatigued
  • The use of substances while driving

There are situations, however, in which the driver can evade fault due to third party influences, such as:

  • Environmental factors
  • Narrow roads
  • Sharp curves
  • Defective car parts
  • Defects in a roadway
  • Obstacles placed in the road in unexpected locations

To shift the liability it must be proven that a duty was assigned and either missed or ignored by another party, resulting an injury to the driver.

Trying to navigate the ideal course of action directly after a traumatic incident becomes more difficult when nobody else was present at the scene. Depending on the cause of the crash, the driver’s next decisions are imperative.

What to Do After a Single-Vehicle Accident

In the high-adrenaline moments following a single-vehicle collision it’s important to stay calm and try to gather as much information as possible on what happened. The local police department should be notified immediately so they can prepare an official report to enter into their records and assist with any remaining danger. It’s important the driver remove themselves from the potential of more harm and try to make the scene as safe as possible.

Preparing a Claim

An insurance claim is a formal request to an insurance company asking to receive money for repairs and other expenses. An individual can file a claim if they believe that a third party is at fault for the crash that otherwise could have been avoided. A single-car accident insurance claim can also be made directly with their insurance company if the outside influence was not a specific entity, such as unpredictable weather or barriers.

Filing a claim requires that the driver properly document the accident, get their vehicle inspected, and report it to the local authorities. Although it’s possible to receive money from a claim with less information, chances of success increase proportionally with evidence.

Preparing a Case

If the insurance company denies the appeal for support, but the driver’s lawyer believes there is sufficient reason to continue pursuing the claim, they can file a lawsuit against the insurance company. Making a case can be difficult because it requires the driver’s legal team to prove to a judge and jury that the driver involved in the single-car accident is not at fault. Most cases are resolved before trial with settlements, or reparations the insurance company pays out to appease the plaintiff and settle the lawsuit. However, some cases go to trial to fight for more money with the risk of losing the original settlement offer.

When deciding whether to push beyond a claim to a case, or push a case to trial, it’s important to have an experienced lawyer. Hiring someone who understands the process of fighting an insurance company can make all the difference. 

Defending Oneself

In addition to making a claim for funds, it’s also beneficial to collect evidence for the sake of defense. Taking photos of poor road conditions and reporting problems to the authority in charge of the road can help relinquish the driver of fault. Similarly, if the single-car collision was believed to be caused by a vehicle defect, the car should be towed to a qualified mechanic right away for inspection. Many insurance companies will only pay if they have to, so it’s important to position oneself a step ahead of their questions about what happened to cause the crash

Contact a Single-Vehicle Accident Attorney Today

Single-car accidents are not an easy thing to come back from. Even if no injuries are present, there are often still major repairs or expenses that need to be covered. If you or a loved one have been involved in a single-vehicle accident, contact the attorneys at WKW. With experience in auto accidents and injuries, the attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham can help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation, or call 317.920.6400 today.

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