Liability and Single Car Accidents in Texas

Charlotte Miller

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Even a single car accident can have devastating consequences, and vehicle damage and injuries can be severe whether you’re the driver or a passenger. Analyzing the impact of single-vehicle incidents in Texas shows that these types of accidents can be just as severe as what you experience in a multi-car collision.

Determining liability in a single car accident seems relatively straightforward. After all, there’s only a single driver involved in the wreck so they must be the one at fault. However, it may surprise you to learn that this isn’t always the case; sometimes, driver negligence isn’t the cause of the accident.

Common Causes Of Single-Car Collisions

The number of single car collisions in Texas might be higher than you think. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 34.4% of traffic fatalities in 2021 occurred as a result of one vehicle being involved in a crash.

Driver negligence is a common cause of a single car wreck—for example, the driver looks away from the road and hits an object like a lane barrier or overpass piling. However, the weather can play a role in the accident’s cause, along with road conditions, and even your passengers can be a distraction that results in an accident.

Vehicle malfunctions can and do occur. Whether it’s a vehicle recall, you can stay current on the latest vehicle recalls on the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) website or a faulty repair job, this can result in an accident. Other common causes of single vehicle wrecks also include driving while sleepy or intoxicated.

Even though driver negligence and/or inattention is the leading cause of single-car collisions, Texas’s occasionally unpredictable and severe weather comes in a close second. Some weather-related dangerous driving conditions include:

  • Ice
  • Sand, Mud, Dirt
  • Slush
  • Snow
  • Standing Water

Wet roads are another weather-related driving hazard, especially when the water mixes with oil commonly found on the pavement. The road becomes slick, making it difficult to control the vehicle on turns or while coming to a stop.

When Are You Not Always Liable For a Single Car Accident

There’s very little you can do about the weather—you can’t bring a lawsuit against Mother Nature or the meteorologist who may have gotten the day’s forecast wrong.

If an accident occurs due to slick roads or poor visibility caused by fog or heavy rainfall, you’re liable for any and all damages. The same is also true for distracted driver accidents and if you’re driving while intoxicated.

If your passengers distract you, you may be able to bring a personal injury/damage case against them, but this isn’t always the best idea. Do you really want to sue a friend or family member? This is something you’ll want to carefully consider, including all of the potential ramifications.

Drowsy driving accidents are also your fault. The law is pretty clear in stating don’t drive when tired. Intoxicated driving accidents are also your fault, and you may also be facing criminal charges. Texas has penalties for intoxicated driving that range from fines to loss of driving privileges and even jail time.

The best advice is to never drive after having more than one drink. Remember: be safe and always have a designated sober driver or call for a ride.

Some rideshare and taxi services work specifically with bars and restaurants to ensure that everyone makes it home safely. Don’t forget: you can always pick your vehicle up when you’re sober.

Vehicle Malfunctions

When a single car collision is caused by a vehicle malfunction, you may not be the at-fault driver. Whether you just picked the vehicle up from the repair shop or it’s a relatively new purchase, you expect everything to function properly. Some examples of common vehicle defects that can result in single car collisions include the following:

  • Airbag failure
  • Brake failure
  • Defective tires
  • Seat belt failure

Sometimes defects are present on new model vehicles, and the responsibility of alerting the public about them and recalling the affected vehicles lies on the manufacturer. Your responsibility is to return the vehicle for the necessary repairs. If both parties follow through on their obligations, the accident may be your fault—however, if the vehicle defect isn’t recalled, the manufacturer is often the at-fault party.

When it comes to automobile repair shops, sometimes proving fault is relatively simple. For example, you take your vehicle in for a tire change and the automotive technician forgets to replace the lug nuts. If the tire falls off and causes a wreck, the repair shop is to blame for the accident.

Proving Third-Party Fault

Proving third-party fault in a single car accident is rarely simple. You will want to consult with an accident attorney, especially if you believe an automotive shop or vehicle manufacturer is to blame. You’ll need to prove your claim, usually in court.

After consulting with an attorney, do not discuss your case details with anyone, which includes friends, family, and any insurance adjusters. Let your attorney handle the insurance companies, and let your friends and family know you’ll give them all of the details after you’ve settled your case.

Save all receipts from the automotive repair shop, along with proof of payment. If you’ve tossed out the receipt, your financial records, like a credit card statement, can help back up your case, which also applies to any new vehicle purchases, save all of the documentation. Going after an automaker for damages will require plenty of proof to show they’re the ones at fault.

If there are any injuries stemming from the accident, make sure that you seek out immediate medical attention. You’ll also want to keep your medical records, along with any bills, as this is the start of the type of documentation you’ll need going forward. Don’t worry, your attorney will go over everything with you.

Your Single Car Collision May Not Be Your Fault

In single-vehicle accidents, it’s a common misconception to automatically assign fault to the driver. However, there are instances where the accident may not be due to the driver’s error. Factors like road conditions, mechanical failures, or unforeseen obstacles can play a significant role. This is why consulting with an accident attorney is crucial.

An experienced attorney can thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, considering all possible contributing factors. If the attorney concludes that there is no viable case, it provides clarity and confirmation that no other parties are responsible.