Not all car accidents involve more than one vehicle, and not all accidents come at the fault of a driver. Road conditions and equipment are sometimes the culprit. Just because you've been in a single car accident doesn't mean you're at fault: there may be a problem with your vehicle, poor road maintenance or design, or you may have hit an animal in the road (or swerved to avoid one and hit something else instead).
What to do in a single car accident
Like in other collisions, the first step is to pull over and assess the situation. Make sure that the roadway is clear and your stopping position is safe for other traffic.
- Check for injury and damage to the vehicle.
- File a police report.
Even with a single car accident, a police report is required if the vehicle's damage is over $500 or in case of any injury, including to the driver.
- Document any damages and injuries.
While this may be included in the police report, keep details notes and photographs of what happened, when it happened and what the road conditions were.
While many single car accidents are determined to be the driver's fault, there are exceptions. Wildlife related collisions are generally not the liability of another driver, nor are accidents caused by driving too fast for road conditions (including weather), but many single car accidents are the result of external factors that were caused by others.
- Another driver
If another car in the road was involved but was not damaged in a collision that driver may still be liable, such as an inattentive driver that caused you to leave your designated lane and crash.
- Equipment failure
If the vehicle malfunctions due to faulty design or construction, then the manufacturer may be liable.
- Poor road maintenance or signage
This does not include bad weather. Instead, if a road's physical condition is so poor that the vehicle could not operate properly, or if poorly placed signs are a factor in the accident, the road's managing entity may be at fault.
Even in a single car crash, drivers should document and report any damages that led to the accident. Just because no other cars were damaged doesn't always mean the driver is to blame.