What to do when your single-car accident wasn’t your fault
How to fight for compensation for an accident you had no control over in the state of Florida
When you think of car accidents, you probably think of two cars colliding with each other. However, single-car accidents can be just as dangerous or deadly, and happen more frequently than you may think. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2017, 51% of car accidents in the state of Florida were classified as single-car accidents, meaning that they only involved one vehicle.
Am I responsible for my single-car accident case?
It depends. There are multiple reasons why single-car accidents occur; typically, they are a result of driver negligence. If you were being careless, or you didn’t follow safe driving laws, you are considered liable for your accident. But if circumstances that you could not have foreseen or avoided arise that lead to a collision with another object in which you were injured, you may have a claim for compensation. (Keep in mind that under Florida’s no-fault laws, you can still obtain some amount from your insurance company under your Personal Injury Protection coverage if the accident was your fault. However, if it was not, there are legal options for seeking greater compensation you may need to heal from your injuries).
Here are some instances where you may not be considered liable for your single-car accident:
- Phantom crash
If a vehicle swerves into your lane (because they were texting and driving, swerving to avoid another car doing the same thing, intoxicated, or any other reason) or brakes suddenly, and you swerve to avoid them and then hit a pole or tree, drive into a ditch, or otherwise crash your car, then the accident was not your fault; it is technically the fault of the driver who swerved into your lane. That driver can potentially be held responsible for your accident and subsequent injuries.
- Potholes, faulty stoplights, incorrect signage, dangerous road conditions
If poor maintenance of the roads cause your accident, the city, county, or other government body may be considered at fault for injuries you received or damage to your vehicle. It’s important to note that weather conditions do not apply here. If the roads are slick with ice, you are the one who is responsible for driving slowly and carefully, or not at all. But if there are large potholes in the middle of your lane that cause an accident, or construction workers who misplaced signs, or stoplights that fail to change correctly, you are not at fault. It can be difficult to realize what party is responsible for this type of accident, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help.
- Vehicle malfunction
You are responsible for the proper maintenance of your vehicle. However, if you have taken all diligent steps required to keep your car in good condition, and the car still doesn’t operate properly (you experience brake failure, tire blowout, etc.), it is likely a result of a manufacturing defect. When a manufacturer’s mistake results in your injury, you may be able to file an auto-product liability claim.
No one, no matter how good of a driver they are, can foresee falling or flying objects, which can be very difficult to dodge. If heavy material an open trailer was carrying flew at your windshield, or a rock hit your windshield, or something from a tree fell on top of your car, you are not at fault for your single-car accident.
- Pedestrians, bikers, or large animals
If you swerve to avoid hitting a pedestrian, motorcyclist, cyclist, you are likely saving their life, and therefore may not be considered liable for your injuries if you hit a tree, pole, or anything else that would render the situation a single-car crash. They may have caused the accident by being in the wrong place and/or at the right time. Animals are trickier; if the animal is small, you should never swerve to avoid it, as the safety of you and everyone in your vehicle and other drivers take priority. If you do swerve to avoid a small animal and are involved in a single-car crash, you are going to be considered liable. Large deer, horses, and cows, though, have been known to kill drivers, so if you fear for your safety and swerve to avoid them, you are not at fault. If you hit the animal, you are also not at fault.
What should I do if I believe the accident wasn’t my fault?
If any of the above scenarios describe your singe-car accident case, then you may have grounds for compensation! Understand that insurance companies are reluctant to offer a settlement for single-car accident cases, and that these types of cases are challenging to prove in court. Your best chance at obtaining financial restitution for your injuries lies with hiring a skilled, highly-trained lawyer who knows the local courts and specializes in single-car accident cases.
Immediately after being involved in an accident, you should always call the police. They will be able to file an accident report which can be useful in later legal proceedings. Take pictures and record any details or evidence surrounding your crash. If you are injured, seek quality medical attention as soon as possible. Then, call your attorney!
The Florida Law Group has won national acclaim for our work in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. We have obtained millions of dollars for car accident victims and are ranked among the top 1% of lawyers in the state. Our clients praise us for our compassion, our reliability, and our expertise. You can trust us to guide you through your legal options, and let you focus on recovering while we recover damages! We understand how to advocate for your best interest, even in the face of intimidating insurance companies. We proudly offer all of our services to single-car accident victims on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not pay us anything unless we win your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation!