On the night of July 11, 2017, two adults and four children wound up in the hospital after a single vehicle crash in Austin. Law enforcement logged the call as ‘auto vs. fixed object,’ which means that the automobile hit an object like a telephone pole or a guardrail under its own power, rather than being pushed into it. While the majority of people think that single vehicle accidents like this must by definition be the fault of the car’s driver, the truth is that there are multiple external factors that can cause a driver to lose control.
Texas Law Is Specific
Single-vehicle accidents tend to happen due to one of three common causes: (1) driver error; (2) vehicle failure on some level; and (3) unforeseeable occurrences. Driver error as an accident cause is fairly self-explanatory, but the other two causes are more nuanced. More importantly, they are more likely to be caused by another person, rather than any fault of one’s own, and when one is injured due to reckless or malicious conduct of another person, that is the textbook definition of negligence. If you are able to successfully show that another person’s negligent conduct played a major role in your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation.
Texas negligence law is fairly standard, though parts of it become quite specific. Four criteria must be proven in order for the plaintiff to prevail in such a suit: the existence of a duty of care, a showing that the duty of care was breached, a showing that the defendant’s conduct was the direct cause of injury to the plaintiff, and proof of tangible harm suffered (in other words, injuries more substantial than just cuts, bruises, and shock). If damages are awarded, however, Texas will reduce the plaintiff’s award by the amount they are found liable for their own harm. In other words, if a jury says that the plaintiff was 15 percent at fault, their recovery will be reduced by 15 percent.
Foreseeability Is Key
One of the major caveats, especially when attempting to prove causation for a single-vehicle accident, is that the cause of your accident must have been foreseeable in order to hold the defendant liable for your injuries. The legal term for this is foreseeability; if an outcome is not foreseeable, it is more than a bit unjust to hold someone liable for it happening when there was no way they could predict that it would. If, for example, you are hit by a car and injured, you would usually bring suit against the owner of the automobile, assuming they were the driver. If the owner tells you that their car had been stolen, and it was the thief who struck you, the owner will generally not be liable for your injuries – there is no way they could have known that their car would be stolen and used in an accident.
This makes a difference in single-vehicle crashes because if you argue that a crash is not your fault, but the fault of another party not in the car, it can be quite difficult to show that their actions were foreseeable – essentially, most cases come down to one person’s word against another. If your car strikes a tree because you swerved to avoid another car suddenly barrelling through traffic dangerously, that would be a single-vehicle accident, but at least some liability would conceivably lie with the other driver.
Speak to Our Auto Accident Attorneys Today
It can be hard to get past the strain of a single-vehicle crash, given that public opinion almost always blames the driver. However, if you know someone else’s negligence played a role, the dedicated New Braunfels car accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm may be able to help you get the compensation you are due. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation.