We think of crashes as one vehicle colliding with another. A route to compensation is clear. The injured party files a claim against the driver who caused the accident.
But there is another category: the single car accident. When you are hurt in a crash and there is no other driver to blame – what do you do?
There are several answers to this question. First, we need to define what a single car accident looks like:
Fallen debris: A truck two miles ahead of you hits a bump and something falls onto the road – building materials, a barrel of oil, a load of artichokes. You hit the debris, you veer off the road and into a ditch.
Natural events: A deer leaps in front of you. Boulders tumble down a steep cliff. Hailstones cause you to go into a skid. A ponderosa pine blocks the road. A storm causes electric lines to fall across the highway, sparking.
Hit and run: Another driver sideswipes you and intentionally speeds away. An alternative is a phantom accident: You are driving and another driver, without intending to, cuts you off and forces you off the road. The other driver has no idea he has caused you significant injury and drives away.
Mechanical failure: Your tire blows out or your brakes fail. Into the ditch.
Road construction: Without warning or signage, you are suddenly in a construction zone and pile into a barrier.
There are other single-car accident scenarios as well. But these examples show how you can sustain a significant injury without having another driver to file a claim against.
What to do
First, you must go to your own insurance company. If your auto insurance includes uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, you will be covered for the hit-and-run and phantom accident situations. Your insurance company may resist paying you, or delay payment or try to nickel you down to a lower amount. That’s when you need to work with an experienced single-car accident attorney to protect your interests.
Mechanical failures that lead to injury will require filing a product liability suit. Other situations require you to identify the parties responsible for the dumped debris, for the fallen wire, the inadequate signage and expecting them to pay you compensation.
The bottom line is, even though you were alone when these injuries occurred, you are covered when you have an injury lawyer on your side who knows the ropes and is not afraid to demand maximum compensation.