Sometimes, drivers simply drift off. On January 31, a driver of a semi-truck did just that on IH-35 near Bexar County, running into the bridge columns that support the Blanco River access road in the early morning hours. While normally, single-vehicle crashes do not take out bridge supports, semi-trucks are significantly larger than the average car. Either way, many people tend to underestimate the amount of damage that a single-vehicle accident can cause both to the vehicle and to its environs, and they tend to not understand that sometimes, others may be liable for the conditions that caused the crash.
Causes and Statistics Vary
While they may not be as flashy as multi-car accidents, single vehicle accidents can be just as dangerous. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that in 2016, approximately 52 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide were single-vehicle accidents, with Texas figures reporting exactly half of all fatal accidents as involving only one vehicle. While correlation is not necessarily causation – there are many factors that can explain the frequency of single-vehicle accident fatalities, including high-speed limits and so-called “highway hypnosis” – it is nonetheless noteworthy as many simply assume single-vehicle accidents are somehow less dangerous when they are not.
Many also mistakenly assume that in a single-vehicle accident, the driver by definition must be at fault, when this is simply not the case. Numerous factors can go into a single-vehicle accident, up to and including the actions of another driver who just happened to avoid hitting anything. For example, one common cause of single-vehicle crashes is when motorcyclists attempt to illegally lane-split, which can spook drivers into swerving and even crashing, though the motorcyclist may not know anything has gone amiss. Others include crumbling infrastructure – if the bridge had crumbled onto the semi-truck instead of the reverse, the trucker might have a claim against whichever entity maintains the overpass.
Know Your Defendants
Depending on the situation of your accident, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to know who to sue and under what legal theory to bring suit. Bringing suit against the wrong defendant will likely get your claim dismissed, and may cause insurance trouble as well. Suing the correct defendant under the wrong theory may result in the same outcome. Many cases that arise out of single-vehicle accidents will be brought under negligence law; those against another motorist, for example, would allege negligence on the part of that driver or motorcyclist. Others might be grounded in product liability law – for example, if a tire explodes with no cause, the manufacturer might be liable.
Keep in mind that bringing suit in an accident where you might bear some responsibility can be risky. Texas’ Rules of Evidence state that any relevant evidence may be introduced in court, and that can include any evidence that might be negative toward you or your case – for example, if you did not seek to have your injuries treated quickly enough, or acted in a way inconsistent with your version of the accident, you might wind up having a judge or jury deem that your percentage of fault is too high to be compensated.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
While the truck driver who hit the Blanco River access bridge suffered no injuries, and the bridge will be repaired, not everyone’s single-vehicle crash is dealt with so easily. If you have been in such an accident, the passionate New Braunfels car accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm can sit down with you and help you determine what the best course of action might be in your case.