One Car, Many Factors: Determining Liability for a Single Car Accident

Imagine you’re in the kitchen, standing on an old, wobbly stool to reach a container on the highest shelf. When the stool teeters, you fall off and smack your arm against the counter, leaving a painful bruise. Because you made the decision to get up on the stool, you probably only have yourself to blame for your injuries.

After a single car accident, you might have the same thought process. Since you were the only one involved, that makes you at-fault for the accident, doesn’t it? Not quite! Even if only one car is involved in an accident, other factors may contribute to liability.

Causes of Single Car Accidents

Unlike the majority of accidents, which involve two or more cars, a single vehicle accident involves one vehicle. These kinds of accidents might involve a car hitting another object, like a guardrail, sign, or tree, or a driver losing control and careening off the road. Sometimes, single car accidents occur because the driver is behaving recklessly or negligently. In other scenarios, however, factors outside of the driver’s control also play a role. These factors include:

  • Weather conditions, including rain, ice, and glare from the sun
  • Animals in the road
  • Objects in the road, like bits of tire or a mattress that falls from the back of a truck
  • Obstacles in the road, like potholes

Additionally, the actions of another driver can lead to a single car accident, even if only one driver is involved. For example, if a car switches lanes without signaling, another vehicle might be forced to swerve of their way, leading to a collision with a guardrail or sign.

Determining Liability

When it comes to determining liability, all these factors play a role. If a driver is speeding over ice, they will probably be fully liable for their own injuries and damage. On the other hand, if the actions of another driver force a car to go off the road, the negligence of the other driver will likely be taken in account. Similarly, if a defect, like an issue with a vehicle’s steering wheel, contributes to the accident, the vehicle’s manufacturer might also be partially liable.

Even though they do not involve multiple vehicles, single car accidents can still be deadly. According to 2016 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 53% of all fatal traffic accidents in Florida were single car accidents. In the United States overall, there were 20,617 fatal single vehicle accidents in 2016. When an accident isn’t fatal, it can still result in serious injuries, including spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, retinal detachment, broken bones, and lacerations, along with expensive vehicular damage.

If you are in a single car accident, don’t immediately assume that you are fully at-fault! Take other factors into account, particularly the role of vehicle defects and other driver’s behavior. If necessary, talk to an attorney about the specifics of your accident.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


Related Post