Why Do Single Car Crashes Happen and Who Is at Fault

It may surprise you to learn that over half of the fatal crashes in Kansas and Missouri each year involve only one car. These single-vehicle collisions are deadly because they often involve an off-road rollover or a head-on impact with a fixed object, like a tree.

What caused the driver to crash often remains a mystery, because the driver is dead and usually, there are usually no other witnesses. Was he texting and driving? Did a deer dart out in front of him? Did another car cross the center line and then flee the scene? Investigators often never find out.

Here are some common reasons for single-vehicle car accidents to know so you and your family can stay safe.

Common Causes of Single-Car Crashes

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 55 percent of the fatal crashes in Missouri in 2015 were single-vehicle crashes, as were 60 percent in Kansas.

Nearly 700 people lost their lives that year in single-car crashes in the two states combined.

Most solo car crashes are caused by some kind of driver error. Even when another factor plays a role—such as poor weather conditions or an animal—it’s up to the driver to anticipate and avoid these hazards.

Causes of Single-Vehicle Crashes Not Eligible for Compensation

In the following situations, the driver is considered at fault, and won’t be eligible for compensation from another source:

  • Distracted driving. All alone on a quiet county road? Perfect time to check for messages on your phone, right? Wrong! Even a five second glance at your phone while you’re driving 55 mph takes your eyes off the road for the length of a football field. If there’s a sudden curve, you may go straight into a ditch or tree rather than safely making the turn.
  • Reckless driving. You may decide to make up time on an empty stretch of road and exceed the speed limit. The danger is that you’re driving too fast for the design of the road, especially on winding back roads. A single tire over the edge of the road could cause you to lose control and hit a telephone pole or tree.
  • Slippery road conditions. Poor weather conditions are a leading cause of single-vehicle crashes, and this may seem like a factor out of your control. However, when roads are slick due to rain, snow, or ice, it’s your responsibility to slow down to a safe speed.
  • Sun glare. Just like you cannot blame the rain for your accident, you also cannot blame the sun. At certain times of day, the sun can be blinding to a driver. However, it’s still your responsibility to use your visor, wear sunglasses, and slow down.
  • Animals. Swerving to avoid hitting an animal is an unfortunate cause for a crash. You are trying to spare the animal’s life but may end up endangering yours. Once again, safe driving is your responsibility. A focused driver who scans the road and shoulder ahead can often avoid this kind of accident. If hitting the animal means you avoid an accident, you may have to make the split-second decision to protect yourself over the unlucky squirrel or rabbit.

Causes of Single-Vehicle Crashes That May be Compensable

There are some causes of single-car accidents that may involve another liable party. These are often difficult cases to pursue, but could be worth it if you’re seriously injured or a loved one is killed.

Some examples include:

  • Flying objects. When a tractor-trailer shreds a tire or an open truck loses cargo and you’re run off the road as a result, you may be able to hold the driver of the truck—or the owner of the trucking company—liable for your injuries. However, you’ll first have to track him down.
  • Poor road conditions or design. The physical condition and structural design of the road are the responsibility of the municipality in which the road is located. If a pothole causes you to veer off or damages your vehicle and injures you, or the road is improperly banked or curves are too sharp, you may be able to hold a government agency responsible.
  • Vehicle defects. Brake or steering failure, tire malfunction, or another vehicle defect could force you off the road or into a fixed object. If the defect appears to be the fault of the manufacturer, you may have a case.
  • Another driver. If another driver ran you off the road and then fled the scene, you may be able to access security video or locate witnesses to track down the driver and hold him accountable. To do this, you’ll likely need legal assistance.

Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816-471-5111 to schedule your free consultation.