Who is Liable in a Single-Vehicle Accident?

March 27, 2023

Individuals typically think of car accidents in West Virginia as incidents involving multiple vehicles. However, there are times when single-vehicle accidents happen. Even though it may seem like the driver of the only vehicle involved in an accident would be held responsible for the incident, there are times when third parties could be liable for the incident. Here, we want to discuss complex liability issues that arise with West Virginia single-vehicle accidents.

Common Causes of Single-vehicle Accidents in West Virginia

In the past, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted vehicle crash causation surveys and found that approximately 31% of all collisions were single-vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, many of these single-vehicle incidents result in significant injuries and even fatalities.

Single-vehicle collisions can occur with a vehicle not striking any other objects at all, or they could result in an incident striking a single or multiple fixed objects. Regardless of how a single-vehicle accident occurs, individuals involved can sustain significant injuries.

How Liability is Determined

Determining liability for a single-vehicle collision is often challenging. Even though individuals may be quick to point the finger at the driver of the vehicle, that is not necessarily where liability should fall. Yes, there are certainly times when the driver of the vehicle involved in the collision is responsible for the crash, but there are other causes of single-vehicle collisions in West Virginia. Some of the other causes can include:

  • Poorly constructed or maintained roadways
  • Hazardous conditions on the roadway
  • Dangerous construction zones
  • Poorly placed road signs
  • Road signs that are no longer present
  • Defective stop lights
  • Inadequately drained roadways
  • Defective vehicles or defective vehicle parts

In the event an initial investigation determines that that party other than the driver of the single vehicle was responsible for the incident or could have been responsible for the incident, there will need to be a more thorough investigation. The only way to determine liability and to prove this to insurance carriers or a personal injury jury is to have evidence. There are various types of evidence that can be used to help determine liability after a single-vehicle collision. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Photograph taken at the scene of the incident
  • Surveillance footage from nearby homes, businesses, dash cams, or traffic cams
  • Road maintenance records
  • Statements from eyewitnesses, the driver, or passengers
  • Police reports
  • Vehicle black box data
  • Information related to vehicle recalls or faulty parts

In some cases, it may be necessary to work with a skilled accident reconstruction expert who can help prove what happened to cause the single-vehicle collision. Accident reconstruction experts will use the evidence that is already obtainable and then put together computer 3D modeling of what likely occurred to cause the incident.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a single-vehicle collision, but you think that another party is responsible for the incident, we encourage you to reach out to a Martinsburg accident attorney today. A skilled lawyer can investigate your situation and offer a free consultation to help you determine the best steps moving forward.

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