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Written by: J. Todd Tenge

Who Is Liable for Your Fixed-Object Collision?

| Read Time: 2 minutes

Not all motor vehicle collisions involve two or more vehicles. Some are single-vehicle accidents in which a driver collides with a fixed object. Serious or fatal injuries can occur when a vehicle strikes a tree, a guardrail, construction equipment, or fallen cargo in the road. Motorcyclists and bicyclists are often injured in dooring accidents, when a driver opens a car door directly into the path of an oncoming rider.

People tend to assume that a driver who collides with a stationary object is automatically at fault for the crash, but this is not necessarily the case. Other parties could be at fault for the accident for a variety of reasons. Examples include:

  • Trucking companies: Truckers and the companies that employ them are responsible under federal regulations for ensuring that the cargo the trucker is hauling is properly secured. When they fail in that duty, cargo that falls out on the road can become a deadly obstacle for other drivers, and the driver and company may be liable.
  • Property owners: Commercial and residential property owners near major roadways have a responsibility to keep debris and objects out of the road. If you swerved and crashed into a structure built too close to the road or a parked vehicle or equipment, you may have a claim for compensation against the owner of the property. This may also be true if you swerved to avoid a pet or livestock that wandered into the roadway.
  • Other drivers: A reckless driver can cause an accident without actually striking your vehicle. For example, a drunk or drowsy driver who veers into oncoming traffic could force you to swerve to avoid a head-on collision and strike a stationary object, such as a guardrail or a tree. In such a case, the drunk or drowsy driver may be held liable for the crash.
  • Government entities: City, county, and state governments are often responsible for road maintenance. They have a duty to ensure the roads are safe for motorists. This includes safe road design, providing adequate lighting, clearing debris out of the road, fixing potholes, and installing proper signage. When failure to maintain safe roads causes a single-vehicle collision with an object, the responsible government entity may be liable for resulting injuries.
  • Auto and parts manufacturers: Design defects and faulty parts and systems are a common cause of car accidents. Manufacturers are required to inspect and test vehicles and components before placing them on the market for use by consumers. When a defective auto product causes a fixed-object collision, the manufacturer and other negligent parties in the distribution chain may be held accountable in a product liability claim.
  • Drug manufacturer: Prescription and over-the-counter medications must be properly labeled to warn consumers of potential side effects, such as drowsiness, impaired judgment, and hallucinations. If a drug’s side effects caused you to lose control of your vehicle and hit a fixed object, the manufacturer may be liable if it failed to adequately warn consumers of the risk.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Proving fault can be more complicated in a single-vehicle collision with a fixed object. If you have been injured in such an accident, you may not be aware of all contributing factors or potentially liable parties. Our Boulder personal injury attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, have a history of success recovering compensation for our clients. Call us at (303) 665-2929 to schedule a free consultation. We can tell you if you have a case and determine all potentially liable parties.

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