Who Is Liable in a Single-Vehicle Accident?Trusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. January 27, 2017
Accident Attorneys Helping Victims of Single-Vehicle Wrecks in the Tampa Bay Area
If you were involved in a single-vehicle accident, can you still seek financial compensation for your medical bills and other losses? Maybe. Just because you were the only one who crashed does not mean that you were the only one involved. If someone else is to blame for your injuries, you may have grounds to file a claim for financial compensation.
Liability in Single-Vehicle Accidents
In order to establish liability in a single-vehicle accident, it is important to conduct an investigation as soon as possible. You will need evidence to support your claim; and, the longer it takes to investigate, the more difficult it may become to secure a negotiated settlement or verdict at trial.
Depending upon the facts of your case, the following parties could all potentially be liable to compensate you for your accident-related injuries and losses:
1. Another Driver
Did another driver run you off of the road? If so, that driver could be liable despite the fact that he or she did not cause a direct collision. The question is whether that driver’s “negligence” caused or contributed to the accident. This could be the case if:
- You had to swerve off of the road in order to avoid a collision with a driver who was drunk or texting behind the wheel.
- Another driver merged into your lane without looking, forcing you off of the road.
- You were forced off of the road by a driver who was across the center line on a blind curve.
Of course, these are just examples. There are countless other scenarios in which a negligent driver could cause another driver to be injured in a single-vehicle collision.
2. Your Insurance Company
If another driver caused the accident, ideally, the investigation will reveal the driver’s identity so that you can file a claim against his or her insurance company. But, if the driver did not stop and there is no way to make an identification, you may need to file a claim under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy.
While UM/UIM coverage typically comes into play when a negligent driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover all of an accident victim’s losses, it can also be used in hit-and-run and single-vehicle accidents. When you file a UM/UIM claim, your insurance company “stands in the shoes” of the at-fault driver’s insurer, and will defend against your claim just the same as a third-party insurance company.
3. A Vehicle Manufacturer
Another important question to ask after a single-vehicle accident is whether a vehicle defect caused the accident or contributed to the severity of your injuries. This could be a defect in your vehicle, or it could be a defect in another vehicle that lost control and forced you off of the road.
Vehicle defects are far more common than most people realize, and we have recently seen some high-profile cases of widespread vehicle defects. Vehicle parts and components that could be defective include, but are not limited to:
If your injuries are the result of a vehicle defect, then the automaker, the manufacturer of the defective part, the dealership, and a number of other parties could all potentially be liable for your physical, financial, and emotional losses.
4. Your Repair Shop
A faulty repair or maintenance job could have caused your accident as well. Even if your vehicle was not defective, a faulty brake job or other service could have created an unsafe condition that caused you to crash without another vehicle being involved.
5. The Highway Authority or a Private Contractor
If a negligent driver or an issue with your vehicle is not to blame for your accident, then it could be that your accident resulted from an issue with the road. Road defects are also common, and issues ranging from negligent road design to inadequate road maintenance have all been identified as causal factors in multiple-vehicle and single-vehicle accidents.
When a soft shoulder, pothole, sinkhole, lack of lighting, or other safety issue causes an accident, the government authority responsible for constructing and maintaining the road may hold financial responsibility. However, it could also be the case that a private contractor is to blame for any deficiencies. Once again, a thorough investigation will be critical, and there are additional (short) deadlines that must be met in order to file a claim against the government.
6. A Trucking Company or Other Employer
Finally, as with any type of accident, if your single-vehicle accident involved another vehicle, it is important to determine whether that vehicle’s driver was working at the time of the accident. If so, his or her employer could be legally responsible for your losses. This could be an accident involving a truck, van, car, SUV, etc. This could be the case if the driver was negligent (for example, if he or she caused the accident while texting), or if the employer was negligent in putting a dangerous driver on the road (for example, if a trucking company hired an unlicensed driver).
What if I Was Partially at Fault in the Accident?
Florida car accident injury victims can recover financial compensation even if they were partially at fault for their own injuries. This is because Florida is among a minority of states that follow a rule known as, “pure contributory negligence.” Under the rule of pure contributory negligence, theoretically, you could be 90 percent at fault and still recover 10 percent of your losses. As you might imagine, this rule often plays a critical role in cases involving single-vehicle accidents. If you think that you may have been partially at fault, you should speak with a Tampa vehicle accident attorney who can assess your claim and provide an estimate of your financial recovery.
Speak with a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk
For more information about pursuing compensation after a single-vehicle accident in Florida, contact the law offices of Abrahamson & Uiterwyk for a free consultation. To speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys in confidence, call (800) 538-4878, start a Live Chat, or inquire online today.