Who Is Liable For Single-Car Accidents?

When you’re in a car accident, and there aren’t any other vehicles involved, you might assume that there’s no one to blame but you. However, there are many scenarios where you may not be liable for your single-car accident under Florida law.

As single-vehicle accidents are more common than you may realize, it’s important to take the time to understand how liability is determined these types of collisions. Understanding what the law says about liability in single-car accidents can help ensure you are protected if you are ever in one. Here’s what you need to know about who’s liable in single-car accidents.

What Is a Single Vehicle Accident?

A single-vehicle accident is an accident where there’s impact on only one vehicle. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other vehicles involved in causing the crash, but they aren’t involved in the collision itself. Some types of single-vehicle accidents may include:

• You hit an animal and damage your vehicle
• Another driver weaves into your lane, and you swerve to avoid it, striking a tree
• A drunk driver forces you off the road, and you run into a fence
• Wet road conditions cause you to slide off the road and hit a mailbox
• Your vehicle malfunctions and your brakes fail, forcing you off the road and causing damage to your vehicle

A single-car accident may or may not involve a personal injury. The criteria for classifying a collision as a single-car accident is that a crash occurs with only one vehicle.

What Scenarios Would the Driver Be Liable?

In many cases, the driver of the vehicle is liable for a single-vehicle accident. The law looks at what events led to the crash. Were you driving too fast for conditions? Did you fail to observe a traffic light or a stop sign? Were you speeding? These are scenarios where you may be liable for the accident. When your actions are the proximate cause of the crash, you’re liable.

What Scenarios Would the Driver Not Be Liable?

Even when using all the care in the world, some things may happen that are out of your control. If you’re driving at a reasonable speed and a drunk driver swerves into your lane suddenly, that’s not your fault. If a vehicle cuts you off abruptly and you have to take evasive action, that’s also not your fault. In these cases, another driver is the proximate cause of your accident even though you managed to avoid hitting them.

Another common way that you may not be liable is when your vehicle is defective. Vehicle manufacturers have an obligation to make and sell cars that work. When an accident occurs because a vehicle manufacturer poorly designs a car or makes an error in the manufacturing process, they’re liable to you if you’re hurt in an accident.

Can More Than One Person Be at Fault?

It’s possible that more than one person is to blame for your accident. Even if you’re partially to blame, Florida law may still allow you to recover for some of your damages. Florida law allows for proportional recovery in cases of contributory fault.

Reporting Obligations

When you’re in a vehicle crash, you must report it to law enforcement. If you don’t report the accident, you may face criminal charges in addition to a traffic ticket. It’s always in your best interest to report your car accident.

Failing to report an accident can be a serious criminal charge by itself. Many judges assume that you didn’t report the accident because you were intoxicated or because you had drugs in the vehicle. Reporting the accident keeps you in compliance with the law. It’s also the first step to investigating the crash.

Florida’s No-Fault Laws

Being liable doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t recover from insurance for your losses. Because of Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, you can make a claim for recovery against your own insurance even if you’re to blame for your accident.

Florida’s no-fault laws exist to make sure that people are protected when they’re hurt in an unexpected car accident. An experienced attorney can help you ensure that you get fair payment from the insurance company.

Should I Report My Single-Car Accident to the Insurance Company?

You have an obligation to report the accident to the police. That means, chances are, the insurance company is going to find out about your accident.

In the vast majority of cases, it’s in your best interest to make a report to the insurance company. In cases where the only damages involved are your own, and the damages are minor, you may choose not to make a report. However, it’s best to speak with a lawyer before you make that determination.

Related: Do’s and Don’ts of Car Accident Insurance Claims in Tampa, FL

Defending Yourself

Even when you’re in a single-vehicle accident, it may not be your fault. However, the police and the insurance company might reach the wrong conclusion. If that happens, you may need to defend yourself.

If you receive a traffic ticket or a criminal charge, it’s important to address it. Even though it may seem easier just to pay the ticket, it’s important to pursue your best interests at every stage in the case. Carefully asserting your rights and preserving the evidence can help you discover the truth and prove it to others.

How an Attorney Can Help

Your Tampa car accident attorney can put their years of experience to work to help you discover the truth about your case and build the evidence to prove it. If you lost control because of a vehicle defect, the attorney knows what to look for and how to gather evidence of what really happened.

If another driver caused the accident, your attorney can help you gather the evidence to demonstrate how the crash occurred. Because they’ve seen hundreds of cases like yours, they can spot the signs when a single-car accident isn’t so straightforward.

Contact Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys Today

At Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys we have over 35 years of experience handling all types of car accident cases, including single-vehicle accidents. We are dedicated to helping you take the right steps to bring a claim for fair recovery after a single-car crash.

Call us at (813) 333-6666 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. There is no fee unless we win.

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 35 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.