What is a single vehicle collision?

12 minute read Published on Jun 3, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

What is a single vehicle collision?

There are many types of car accidents in Canada, and one such type is single vehicle collisions. This unique type of car accident, as the name suggests, does not involve another driver. This distinguishes them from most other types of collisions. Continue reading to learn more about how single vehicle collisions work, how to report a car accident of this kind, and the insurance implications of single vehicle collisions.

What is a single-vehicle accident?

A single-vehicle accident is a car accident that involves only one vehicle. This type of accident can happen in a variety of ways. For example, you could:

  • Drive off the road
  • Hit an object or debris on the road, e.g. a median, fence, road sign, or lamppost
  • Collide with rocks or a tree
  • Hit an animal

Most of the time, single-vehicle car accidents refer to collisions in which only the driver is injured. That said, some people may include accidents that involve a cyclist or a pedestrian as a single-vehicle collision, and in these types of accidents, it’s possible for multiple parties to be injured. It is also worth noting that accidents in which one vehicle collides with a parked car are not considered single-vehicle collisions.

What causes single-vehicle collisions?

The most common causes of single-vehicle collisions are similar to the most common causes of any type of car accident. Namely, distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving, fatigued driving, and careless driving. Try to avoid any and all of these behaviours if you want to avoid a car accident. Remember that driving drunk or under the influence of drugs is illegal and can result in a criminal offence.

In addition to the causes listed above, there are certain locations or times of day when single-vehicle collisions are more likely to happen. For instance, driving at night usually results in higher rates of accidents since visibility is reduced. Driving on curved roads can also increase the odds of a single-vehicle accident since not only is visibility reduced, but the chances of skidding are higher.

Operating a vehicle in inclement weather might also raise your chances of being involved in a single-vehicle collision, as your brake time and reaction time will be reduced, as will the traction between your tires and the road, especially when driving in rainy, snowy, or icy conditions.

Lastly, driving at dawn or dusk when animals are most active could also increase the likelihood of a single-vehicle collision since an animal may be more likely to walk into the middle of the road during these times.

Who is at fault in a single-vehicle car accident?

Now that you understand what a single-vehicle car accident is, you’re likely wondering who is held liable for these types of accidents.

More often than not, the person driving the vehicle at the time of the collision is the party who is held liable for the accident. Much of the time, single vehicle accidents are the result of a motorist’s poor driving behaviour, such as driving recklessly, driving while impaired, , or distracted driving.

If you are found to be at fault for the accident, you will usually file a car insurance claim to help cover the cost of any damages. Collision car insurance is typically the type of coverage that will protect you against at-fault single-vehicle collisions.

If the damages are minor and you were not injured in the accident, then you may choose to repair your vehicle and pay for these repairs out of pocket.

That said, there are some situations when the driver is not found to be at fault for a single-vehicle collision.

A few situations where a driver might not be found liable for a single vehicle car accident are as follows:

  • You get into an accident after swerving to avoid an animal that ran out onto the road, such as a deer. In this scenario, the animal’s actions might be considered beyond your control, and therefore, you might not be held liable for the damages. That said, if you did not take appropriate measures to avoid colliding with an animal, such as by using your low or high beams when driving in a foggy area at dawn, you could still be held responsible for the accident.
  • Another driver is driving recklessly or dangerously, forcing you to swerve to avoid them. In the act of swerving, you accidentally hit an object, such as a tree. In this scenario, the driver who was driving recklessly and caused you to swerve in the first place might be held liable.
  • You are driving on the road when unsecured cargo from a truck falls onto the road. You either hit the cargo and damage your vehicle, or you are forced to swerve to avoid the cargo, and you hit a road sign or other object on the road. In this scenario, the truck driver with the unsecured cargo on their truck might be held responsible instead of you.
  • You lose control of your vehicle due to a technical or mechanical failure in your car that is out of your control. In this instance, your automaker or mechanic might be held responsible for the accident. However, you will have to prove that the failure occurred due to a manufacturing or design flaw rather than your own neglect of routine car maintenance.

As you can see, there are a number of scenarios in which a driver will not be held responsible for a single-vehicle collision. Keep in mind that it is up to the insurance company to determine fault.

After getting into the car accident, you will need to file a claim with your insurance provider. Once your claim is filed, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to investigate the claim. They will determine who was at fault for the accident or if both parties share fault. From there, they will make a recommendation to the insurance company as to whether the claim should be approved or rejected and, if approved, how much the payout should be. If the insurance adjuster determines that you are not at fault for the accident, you can receive a payout to cover the cost of the damages.

Leaving the scene of single-vehicle accidents

If you get into a car accident, it’s only natural to want to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Why? Collisions are stressful. Your inclination to leave the scene of the accident might be even higher when you are involved in a single-vehicle collision. This is because there likely won’t be any other person involved in the accident. It’s even possible that there are no witnesses.

That said, fleeing the scene of an accident is not smart and is against the law in many Canadian provinces. One reason why fleeing the scene isn’t smart is that you want to gather as much evidence as possible ahead of filing an insurance claim.

Thus, after the accident occurs, you should spend time taking photos and videos of the accident for your insurance provider. You should make sure to photograph any damage done to your vehicle, any injuries that you incur, and the general road conditions at the time of the accident.

In addition, notifying the police after a single-vehicle accident is also important. Once the police are involved, they can file a police report, which can also be used as evidence when you file an insurance claim.

The more thorough your insurance claim is, the better the odds of the claim being approved and you receive an insurance payout.

Finally, if the collision results in property damage or bodily injury, then fleeing the scene is also illegal. You could be charged with a hit and run, which is a felony that is punishable by jail time. No matter how stressed or scared you might be, do not leave the scene of a single-vehicle collision before calling for help and reporting it.

Auto insurance and single-vehicle collisions

At this point, you may be wondering if your car insurance plan will cover you for a single-vehicle collision. For further insight into this topic, we recommend speaking with a licensed insurance broker. In the meantime, we are going to provide a brief overview of car insurance and how it relates to single-vehicle accidents:

Will my car insurance policy cover a single-vehicle car accident?

It depends. Car insurance policies can cover single-vehicle accidents. However, it isn’t guaranteed. The circumstances of the accident, as well as the types of coverage you have included with your policy, will ultimately determine whether or not your policy covers you.

If you have an enhanced policy that includes collision coverage, comprehensive car coverage, and accident forgiveness coverage, among other coverage types, then chances are you will be covered for the cost of the accident.

Even if you are found to be at fault for the single-vehicle collision, these types of coverages would still cover you. For example, collision coverage can pay for the cost of vehicle repairs regardless of who is found to be at fault for the accident, whether the accident was with another driver, an animal, or a grounded object.

Even more, collision coverage can help pay to replace your car if it is totalled in the accident. If you lease or finance your vehicle, purchasing collision coverage may have been a requirement in your lease agreement, so you likely already have this type of coverage.

Meanwhile, accident forgiveness coverage is additional coverage that can be added to your car insurance policy as an endorsement to protect your driving record and to help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim. If the single-vehicle collision you were involved in was your first at-fault accident, you might be covered by this type of insurance.

As seen above, your car insurance policy will likely cover you for property damage incurred during the single-vehicle collision, no matter who was found to be at fault. That said, even with a comprehensive policy, the cost of injuries sustained may not be covered. You can ask your insurance company about filing a personal injury claim, such as an accident benefits coverage claim. Still, there is no guarantee that you will be reimbursed for your medical expenses.

How will a single-vehicle collision impact my auto insurance premium?

The reality is that single-vehicle collisions, like any collision, have the ability to impact your auto insurance premium. Single-vehicle collisions may even be more likely to impact your premium since they are usually considered to be at-fault accidents.

At-fault accidents almost always lead to an insurance premium increase unless you have accident forgiveness coverage, and the collision is eligible for that type of coverage. Otherwise, you should expect your rates to go up the next time that you renew your car insurance.

You will likely pay more for car insurance until the at-fault collision is no longer on your driving record, which can take a number of years.

However, if you are not found to be liable for the single-vehicle collision, then your rates may stay the same. For example, if a piece of cargo falls off a semi in front of you and hits your car, or it’s determined that a mechanical failure in your car is what caused the accident, then your premium may be unaffected. It is usually only at-fault accidents that raise insurance premiums. No-fault accidents likely won’t affect your premium.

If your insurance policy contains accident forgiveness coverage (also known as the Accident Forgiveness Endorsement), you may not have an insurance policy increase following an at-fault accident. The criteria and eligibility vary by insurance provider.

How long do single-vehicle car accidents stay on driving records?

The answer to this question depends on what province you live in. In Ontario, at-fault accidents, whether they are single-vehicle collisions or they involve another driver, stay on driving records for up to six years. This means that you could face a higher premium for six whole years. That said, your premium would likely be the highest in the year following the accident and would gradually decrease as the years go on, assuming you don’t get into any other accidents.

If you want to keep your insurance rates as low as possible, do what you can to drive safely. Driving safely and responsibly is the best way to qualify for cheap car insurance. The fewer infractions on your driving record, the less risky a driver you will appear to be, and the lower your rates will be. If you can keep your record clean for a number of years consecutively, you might even qualify for a safe driver discount, which could significantly lower your rates.

How to avoid a single-vehicle collision

Follow the tips below to help you avoid a single-vehicle collision in the future:

Put away your phone and avoid distractions

Avoiding distractions while driving is the first tip to help you avoid a single-vehicle collision. Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents in Canada. What is distracted driving? Engaging in behaviour that takes your focus off the road. This could be texting and driving, eating or drinking while driving, setting your GPS, or even tuning the radio. Do your best to focus 100% of your attention on the road. Start by putting away your phone somewhere that you can’t access it, such as in the backseat of your car.

Obey the posted speed limit

Obeying the posted speed limit is a must if you want to avoid collisions in general. Since speeding is a leading cause of accidents, driving the speed limit is one simple step you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in one. Take note of the posted speed limit sign on each road that you drive on, and do not exceed it. You should also take care to slow down when driving on roads with high pedestrian traffic, through construction areas, near schools, at night, or in adverse weather conditions, such as fog, rain, or snow.

Pay close attention to wildlife

Colliding with an animal can be a scary experience, and it can cause serious damage to your car. To avoid an interaction with an animal, either colliding with it directly or swerving to avoid it, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife when driving in certain areas and at specific times of the day and year. For example, if you regularly drive in wooded areas, at dawn or dusk, or during mating and hunting season, be extra vigilant on the road. Use your high and low beams when appropriate, and slow down if you spot an animal up ahead.

Add the right kind of car insurance coverage to your policy if you want financial protection against single-vehicle collisions

While this tip isn’t to help you avoid a single-vehicle accident in the first place, it can give you peace of mind should you end up in this type of accident. By adding the right kind of car insurance coverage to your policy, you can rest easy knowing that you will be financially protected if you get into a single-vehicle collision. For example, by adding enhanced coverage, like collision car insurance, to your policy, you will be able to file a claim after a single-vehicle collision and get reimbursed for any vehicle repair costs. Remember that collision coverage can pay to repair or replace your vehicle, no matter if you are found to be at fault for the accident or not and no matter if the accident was with another vehicle, an animal, or a stationary object on the road.

Reach out to BrokerLink for more information on single-vehicle collisions

If you still have questions on single-vehicle collisions, including what they are, how fault is determined in one, or whether your car insurance covers you for this type of accident, reach out to BrokerLink today.

We can explain how insurance companies determine fault, as well as what types of car insurance can protect you against these types of collisions. We can also explain what types of car insurance are mandatory in your province. For example, most Canadian provinces mandate that drivers must have third-party liability car insurance, uninsured automobile insurance, and more.

In fact, you might even need to purchase a specific amount of liability car insurance, and a BrokerLink insurance advisor can make sure that you purchase the right amount to comply with local laws.

Lastly, a BrokerLink insurance advisor can ensure you never overpay for auto insurance again by shopping around on your behalf and giving you money-saving tips, like bundling home and auto insurance or buying multiple auto insurance policies.

Reach out to BrokerLink today to get started and request your free quote!

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