While most traffic accidents involve two or more vehicles, many crashes occur with just one car. These types of incidents can occur from driver negligence, road debris, or wildlife. It seems obvious to think the driver is at fault in a single-vehicle accident, but that is not always the case. Those injured in a single-vehicle accident may be entitled to compensation from another at-fault party.
At Graves McLain, our Tulsa single-vehicle accident attorney can investigate your case to determine any other parties who might be responsible.
Single-vehicle accidents involve one car, truck, or other motor vehicle. It may seem the only person at fault would be the driver, but these accidents can be caused by many different factors that complicate the situation. For example, a single-vehicle accident in Tulsa could happen due to:
Another party could be at fault for your crash if they negligently or intentionally contributed to the accident. A livestock owner who failed to maintain fences for large animals could be liable if their animals wander into a roadway. Likewise, a truck driver who did not maintain his tires properly and experiences a blowout could send tire debris flying into your vehicle.
Regardless of how the crash happens, it is vital to gather whatever evidence you can, obtain reports from emergency responders, and investigate all avenues to determine who is at fault.
If you run off the road after swerving to avoid a deer, for example, it may seem that the accident is simply a lesson to learn about paying more attention to the road. However, you could still suffer injuries and property damage that deserve compensation.
Depending on the situation, there could be extenuating circumstances that take time to uncover, and a single-vehicle accident attorney can discuss the options available to you.
Other factors that contribute to single-vehicle crashes include:
Regardless of how simple an accident seems, things become complicated when insurance companies are involved. Filing a claim will trigger an accident investigation. The investigator works for the insurance company and is usually inclined to minimize or deny payments. A lawyer can help you negotiate the settlement and help you understand what coverage may apply.
For example, even if you are found responsible for your single-vehicle accident, you could still file a claim on car or health insurance, under certain kinds of coverage:
Keep in mind that any claim against insurance has the risk of making your rates increase.
Even when a single car is the only one involved in an accident, it may not be only that driver’s fault. In many instances, a driver crashes in an effort to avoid an accident with something else. Here are some examples:
Proving the liability of another party can be difficult, but not impossible. These claims require an extensive investigation by police officers, insurance carriers, and legal teams. In instances such as unsafe road conditions or vehicle defects, the opposing party could argue the driver should have slowed down or repaired the vehicle. While it can be true that both another party and the driver are at fault, it requires skilled legal guidance to negotiate this argument.
Because Oklahoma is a comparative fault state (Oklahoma Statutes Title 23, section 14), your single-vehicle accident lawyer will advise you on how your case will be affected should an insurance company or other opposing party challenge your claim. It is important to know that if you are found 50% or more at fault for the accident, no damages will be paid to you. When your fault is assigned at less than 50%, then any compensation you seek will be reduced by that amount. In the case of property damage such as car repair, compensation is usually limited to the amounts covered in your automotive insurance policy.
Single-vehicle accidents are much more common than most people realize. In the latest reporting year, 53% of traffic fatalities nationwide involved only one vehicle. In Oklahoma, 21% of the approximately 73,000 traffic accidents were single-vehicle type collisions. While most people think about the driver in an accident, there are many other individuals who can be injured or killed in single-vehicle crashes.
While this type of accident usually involves a single passenger car or truck, that does not necessarily mean that no other vehicles or people were involved. Others who could be hurt in the crash include passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, electric scooter operators, and pedestrians. All of these individuals may be at fault in some way or eligible to seek compensation through methods such as a personal injury lawsuit.
In the case of someone who is injured by another driver, they may choose to seek damages for injuries or property loss. In the event of a fatality, their family may choose to seek justice for a wrongful death. Oklahoma Statutes title 12, section 1053 prescribes a two-year “clock” that requires filing a lawsuit within two years of the date of death. For property damage, the timeline begins on the date of the actual accident.
When you are the driver and your single-vehicle accident was the result of someone else’s negligence (debris, dangerous driving, etc.), you are still eligible to seek compensation through a number of avenues, such as negligence or personal injury claims.
The Oklahoma statute outlining a two-year window also applies.
Gathering valuable evidence in a timely manner is critical to winning an accident claim. It is important to act quickly because many factors can erode the quality of reports and testimonies. Camera footage can be erased or lost, physical evidence could wash away in a rainstorm, and witnesses may forget details.
Determining how much a claim is worth is very complicated for any crash, and this is even more true for single-vehicle accidents. It is not as simple as filing a claim for insurance or against another person. You may need to negotiate with many different parties, such as:
Insurance claims and lawsuits generally seek to cover the cost of medical treatment and property damage. They may also seek to reimburse the claimant for lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Some of these types of damages are easier to calculate than others, and some injuries may not appear until some time after the accident.
Documenting every detail possible is critical in helping an attorney build the strongest case for a claim. If you are the driver of the vehicle, it is an uphill battle to prove you deserve compensation. Medical reports, verification of work missed, witness testimony, and police reports are all important tools for a successful lawsuit.
While each case is different, it is common to seek damages worth about three times what your medical bills cost. It is important to be examined by a doctor immediately and to document any additional treatments required as injuries appear over time. Damages to the car will likely be compensated only up to the limits of the insurance policy.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash with a passenger vehicle or truck, you need the expertise of the Tulsa single-vehicle accident lawyers at Graves McLain. Whether you are the driver or were injured by someone else, we offer free consultations and solid legal advice to help you through this trying time. Contact us today either online or by phone at 918-359-6600.
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