If you’re the driver in a single-car accident in Massachusetts, that accident will be investigated, and you could face several legal consequences. As soon as possible after a single-car accident, reach out to a Woburn traffic attorney for the advice and legal services that you will need.
More than 11,000 drivers lost their lives in single-car accidents on U.S. streets and highways in 2020. Drivers should understand that most single-car accidents are fatal accidents.
For anyone who survives, a single-car accident can be just as devastating as any other traffic collision. What are the potential legal consequences for drivers in single-car accidents? What are your rights after a single-car accident in Massachusetts, and what steps will you need to take?
If you will keep reading this brief introduction to single-vehicle collisions, your rights, and the law in this state, you will find the answers you may need, but if you are personally involved in a single-car crash, you’ll also need to contact a Woburn traffic lawyer as quickly as possible.
What Can Cause a Single-Car Accident?
Single-car crashes often happen when drivers are negligent. Distracted driving, reckless driving, speeding, texting while driving and driving while intoxicated are the causes of many single-car accidents.
But you could also be involved in a single-car accident that was not your fault and was instead caused by:
- poor road maintenance
- the mechanical failure of your vehicle
- excessive sunlight or poor visibility
- objects, debris, an animal, or a pedestrian in the road
- a medical emergency such as a diabetic episode or a seizure
- another vehicle swerving into your lane
One-car accidents may involve more than one vehicle, for example, if another vehicle swerves into your lane, and to avoid a crash, you veer into a mailbox. The other vehicle is undamaged and may be gone from the scene, but your vehicle is damaged and you may be injured.
What if You Are Ticketed After a Single-Car Accident?
If you cause a single-car crash, you could face multiple consequences. You could be ticketed for a traffic violation, charged with a traffic-related criminal offense, or sued for compensation if you caused property damage. In some cases, you could be facing all three of these consequences.
You could be ticketed for an improper lane change, speeding, or running a red light or a stop sign, for example. Civil traffic violations aren’t considered crimes, but if you are given a traffic ticket, you should fight the ticket. Paying a traffic fine is an admission that you are guilty..
If you’re given a traffic ticket for a civil motor vehicle infraction (CMVI) in Massachusetts, you will have twenty days to request a hearing to fight that ticket, so you must contact a Woburn traffic attorney at once. Your attorney will request that hearing and help you prepare for it.
Could You Be Charged With a Crime?
Sometimes, a driver is charged with one or more criminal offenses after a single-car accident. You could be charged, for example, with negligent driving (also called “driving to endanger”) reckless driving or with operating under the influence. If you are convicted of a driving-related crime in Massachusetts, the penalties may include:
- the temporary or permanent loss of your driving privilege
- a costly fines
- or in the most egregious cases, jail time or a prison sentence
These are serious, life-altering consequences. If you face a criminal charge following a one-car accident, you must be represented by a Woburn traffic lawyer who is also a criminal defense attorney.
Depending on your driving record and the details of the crash, a traffic attorney will:
- negotiate for a less serious charge (with a reduced sentence)
- negotiate to have any charges against you dropped or dismissed
Can You Be Sued for Damages to Property?
If you are at-fault for a single-car accident, your auto insurance should pay for any damage to someone else’s property such as a sign, a fence, a mailbox, or a parked vehicle. The law requires drivers in Massachusetts to carry at least $5,000 of liability insurance for property damages. But you find that most people carry even more. Look at your own policy to see how much coverage you have.
If you are found to be liable for a one-car accident, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for any damage amount that exceeds your auto insurance coverage limit, and you could be sued for property damages.
It is important to have a traffic attorney investigate what happened in a single-car accident – and to be certain that you are the party responsible for property damage – before you pay for it.
What if You Were Not Liable?
One-car crashes happen for many reasons, and not every single-car crash is the driver’s fault, so if you’re involved in a one-car crash in Massachusetts, it is possible that you may not receive any traffic tickets or face any charges. The potential liable parties in single-car crashes may include:
- another motorist
- a government agency or contractor that is responsible for a faulty road design
- a government agency or contractor that is responsible for improper road maintenance
- a vehicle or parts manufacturer that sold you a defective vehicle or vehicle part
- a mechanic or repair shop that failed to repair or maintain your vehicle properly
In these circumstances, if you’ve been injured, and if a liable party can be identified, you have the right to file an injury claim against that party and to recover compensation for your current and future medical costs, your current and future lost wages, and related losses and damages.
What Else Should You Know About One-Car Accidents?
If you cause or are involved in a single-car accident, it is important to report the accident to either the property owner or the police right away. Do not leave the scene of the accident without identifying yourself and providing basic information, such as your insurance and driver’s license information. If you do leave without doing these things you could be charged with another crime called leaving the scene of an accident.
If another party is liable for your single-vehicle accident, and if you have been injured, schedule a consultation at once to discuss your legal options and rights – including your right to recover compensation – with a Massachusetts traffic attorney who is also a personal injury lawyer.
Your lawyer will investigate the crash, identify the liable party or parties, and negotiate on your behalf for the maximum compensation amount that is available, but you must call that lawyer at once. If you will be suing a government agency, you have only thirty days to initiate legal action.
In other accident cases, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is three years in Massachusetts, but if another party caused your one-car accident and you were injured, you should contact a Massachusetts injury attorney as soon as you have been treated for your injury.