Can You Leave the Scene of a Single-Car Accident?

Auto accidents are a top cause of accidental or unexpected death and injury in Nevada. In the last decade, the number of fatal crashes has risen in Nevada, and many more people suffer serious injuries in accidents. To protect the health and rights of everyone involved, Nevada law requires you to remain at the scene of a crash and report the accident to the police, among other things.

While many serious crashes involve multiple vehicles, some only involve one vehicle. Do you still need to remain at the scene of a single-vehicle crash? While most people would assume it is okay to leave if only their car was involved, this is a mistaken assumption. The law requires you to stay at the scene of any crash – even if only one vehicle was involved.

If you suffered injuries in a car accident – no matter what type – you should discuss your rights with a car accident lawyer in Las Vegas. It is possible that someone else might be responsible for your single-car accident, so never ignore your legal options following any type of accident.

Defining a “Single-Car Accident”

A single-car accident is one in which one vehicle either strikes an object like a telephone pole or tree or careens off the roadway. Any type of vehicle can be in a “single” accident (motorcycle, semi-truck, taxi, RV). If you even just graze the guardrail going around a sharp corner, this is a single-car collision.

If you swerve to avoid another car, a child chasing a ball into the street, roadway debris, a deer, or a patch of ice, and you end up on the sidewalk or in a ditch, this is a single-car accident. If another driver’s erratic maneuvering causes you to roll over, spin out, or lose control of your car, this is also considered a single-car accident (even though a second car was the actual cause). Single-car crashes can definitely be just as dangerous as multi-car crashes.

There might be assumptions or preconceived notions that single-car accidents are a result of “bad driving.” This is not always the case. Common causes of single-car crashes include:

  • Mechanical problems – Brake failure, tire blow-outs, steering problems, and even windshield wiper problems can all cause a driver to lose control of a car. Mechanical failures can be deadly.
  • Treacherous weather – Obviously, stormy weather can reduce visibility, make the road slippery, and cause a single car to crash on its own.
  • Poor road conditions – Hitting a pothole, driving way too fast over an unmarked speed bump, or swerving to avoid spilled garbage in an intersection are all ways in which a driver could end up in someone’s yard or even their living room.
  • Faulty guardrails – Hand in hand with poor road conditions, a guardrail that is missing or failing can cause a single-car fender bender to turn into a lethal single-car rollover.

Know the Law About Accident Reporting

Remember that state law mandates that drivers report any accidents they have (single-car or otherwise). Remember, as well, that leaving the scene of an accident is also illegal in Nevada. If your car is blocking traffic and it is safe to move your car, Nevada law does say that you may remove your vehicle from the roadway while you’re waiting for law enforcement to respond. The law also stipulates that you need to notify law enforcement as soon as you can.

Remember that you’ll need to provide your contact information and insurance information to law enforcement officers who arrive at the scene or any property owners who suffered damage due to your single-car accident. You should also cooperate with the authorities while they are conducting an initial investigation.

By reporting your accident, you not only comply with the law but you create an official report of what you believe happened. If another driver swerved into your lane and then sped away as you crashed, officers can put that in their report. They might be able to locate the driver based on witness information or other sources. This can help you hold the liable driver accountable for their actions whenever possible.

Challenges of a Single-Car Accident

There are a few concerns that might arise if you’ve been in a single-car crash:

  • How do you identify the other driver who might have caused your single-car accident?
  • With a low possibility of witnesses, what can you prove?
  • You can’t sue yourself for “pain and suffering,” but you can’t always identify the “who” behind a single-car accident. You need help to identify your best insurance coverage options.

If you believe someone else caused you to crash your car, speak with a car accident attorney immediately. They have tools to investigate what happened and gather evidence of liability for your accident.

The Crucial Role of Investigation and Evidence

Unfortunately, in a single-car accident, it can be a lot more challenging to prove exactly what happened. If another driver caused you to crash but then drove away, how do you prove that is why you swerved off the road?

Police might conduct an investigation, but they might not pursue the matter as much as you would like. It might be up to you and your attorney to determine and prove what happened.

If at all possible, get out your smartphone and take videos and photos of the entire scene as soon as you can, especially if law enforcement isn’t able to respond immediately. Proving who was at fault and/or what happened in a single-car collision is tricky, so gather whatever evidence you can.

If another car caused you to crash, write down everything you remember about that car as soon as you can (color, make, model, body style, anything unique like bumper stickers or a bike rack, who you saw inside the vehicle, which direction they went, where they came from). Additionally, if other motorists stop to assist you, get their names and contact information so those people can serve as witnesses later.

Finally, if your single-car accident was caused by a mechanical or manufacturing defect with the vehicle, do not have that defect repaired until you’ve spoken to your lawyer. The car itself is your evidence in this case, and fixing the defect will destroy that evidence. Yes, it means you lose your transportation for a while, but it’s better than footing the bill for the accident on your own.

Your attorney can also seek out any available video footage of the accident to prove another car caused the crash. Any proof you have is critical. If you can show another caused your accident, your uninsured motorist coverage should cover your losses, even if you do not find the other driver. Your insurance company should treat the accident like a hit-and-run where you were not at fault.

However, you cannot hit and run and then file this type of insurance claim. Do not leave the scene of your single-car accident, even if you believe you are fine. Call the police and report what happened, then speak with a car accident lawyer.

Call a Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer To Get Started

If you are panicking about how you’re going to pay for your medical bills or property damage in a single-car accident, Cloward Trial Lawyers can let you know what your options are, and how to proceed, and give your helpful guidance. You have nothing to lose by reaching out and sharing the details of your case with us.

Our car accident attorneys in Las Vegas can tell you pretty quickly whether your case is viable. Remember that accident victims have rights, and those who choose to hire a lawyer statistically are more likely to get financial compensation and to get a higher amount of compensation. Call us at (702) 605-5000 or contact us online to learn your options now.

Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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