car crashed into treeMost car accidents involve two vehicles colliding with each other, but many people are injured every year in single-vehicle crashes—many of which prove fatal. According to studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), about 20% of all car accident deaths result from vehicles leaving the roadway and striking a fixed object such as a tree, utility pole, road sign, or traffic barrier. While drivers are often blamed for causing these accidents, the truth is that many others could be responsible for the crash.

Parties Who May Be Liable in a Single-Vehicle Crash

While Tennessee law requires a minimum level of vehicle insurance, most liability insurance does not cover single-vehicle accidents. If your auto policy does not include collision coverage, you may have to pay out of pocket for damages in a fixed-object crash. Since these crashes can cause thousands of dollars in property damage and medical bills, it is always worth investigating whether someone else’s negligence could have played a role in the accident.

For instance, you may be able to collect compensation if your accident was caused by:

  • Another driver. Just because you did not physically strike another vehicle does not mean that you were unaffected by the actions of another driver. A distracted or drunk driver who swerved into your lane or began driving the wrong way down a one-way street could have forced you to steer off the roadway in order to avoid a crash.
  • A property owner. Homes and businesses near major roadways are expected to keep travel areas clear of debris and stationary objects. Property owners could be liable for your crash costs if you swerved off the roadway into a parked vehicle, farm equipment, shed, fence, bus shelter, or other object built too near the roadway. You may also be able to file a claim against the owner’s business or homeowner’s insurance if you swerved off the road to avoid hitting a an unsecured pet or farm animal.
  • A government entity. IIHS estimates that nearly half of the deaths in fixed-object accidents occur at night, making poor visibility a likely factor in severe crashes. Municipal agencies have a duty to ensure that roadways are safe for travel, including providing adequate lighting and clearing away debris. City and state governments may also be liable for crashes due to poor road design (such as steep curves or inclines) and failure to perform maintenance (such as fixing potholes and replacing faded signs).
  • Commercial carriers. Trucking companies are required to secure their cargo to prevent items from spilling onto the roadway and into the path of oncoming vehicles. A trucking carrier could be liable if you skidded out of control due to liquids or gravel on the road surface or striking dropped cargo at high speed.
  • Automakers. Auto manufacturers are required to test their vehicles thoroughly before selling them to the public. If an automaker knew or should have known about a design defect, faulty engine, defective brakes, faulty electrical system, or other potential hazard, the company may share liability in an injury lawsuit.
  • Product manufacturers. There are many ways a faulty product can cause a car accident injury. A tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control of the car, brake failure can force a driver off the road to avoid hitting other vehicles, and a malfunctioning airbag or seatbelt can make crash injuries much more severe.
  • Drugmakers. Prescription and over-the-counter medications may have side effects such as drowsiness, impaired judgment, or even hallucinations that can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. If a drug manufacturer knew of the risks and failed to adequately warn the public, the company could be held liable for your injury costs.

Victims are often not aware that a third party could have caused their accident, since many contributing factors in a crash are not readily apparent. If you were hurt in an auto accident that was not your fault, our injury lawyers can perform a full investigation to determine liability, and we do not collect anything unless we secure compensation for you. To set up a free initial consultation, simply fill out the short contact form on this page. For more information, you can also request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.