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Single car accident

One-car accidents are extremely common. In fact, 58-percent of all fatal car accidents in the United States involve just one vehicle. Injuries are also widespread after one-vehicle accidents, too.

On May 23, 2019, at about 12:30 p.m., three teens were involved in a one-car accident in Stevenson Ranch, California. The driver lost control and hit a tree. Sources say that he might have been speeding at the time of the crash.

Two of the three teens were able to exit the vehicle on their own, but the passenger had to be extricated because of the damage done to the car at the point of the crash. He suffered some injuries, but it is unclear at this point how serious those may be.

The passenger in this case might have a legal claim, even though there was only one car involved in the crash. How can this be?

Fault in One-Car Accident Cases

In most one-car accident cases, fault is very clear—usually the driver did something that caused him or her to lose control. That could be a variety of actions or inactions, such as:

  • Inattention (texting, talking on the phone, eating, etc.)
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Overreacting to an outside factor
  • Failure to properly operate the vehicle for any reason

While there are certainly situations where someone else may be at fault, the driver will often take the brunt of the blame in a one-car accident.

You may think that one-car accidents generally do not lead to litigation, but that is not always the case. Passengers can often bring a claim against the driver for their injuries.

Passenger Claims in California

When you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, you expect that they will generally follow the rules of the road and keep your safety in mind when driving. When a driver violates your expectations and causes an accident that results in your injury, you may have a legal claim to help you recover for damages associated with the crash.

However, passenger claims do have some limitation in California. Specifically, if a passenger is aware of a danger, then the passenger must take reasonable steps to protect their safety. This exception is used only rarely—and often only in the context of whether the passenger was wearing their seatbelt.

California is a comparative fault state. That means that if the passenger is partially to blame for his or her injuries, then their damages that they can obtain from the driver will be reduced by their percentage of the fault. In many situations, the comparative fault is very slight in these cases because only the driver had control of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Getting Help with Your Passenger Claim

Many people hesitate to start a legal claim against a friend or family member who may have been driving a vehicle. However, you should keep in mind that it is their insurance company that will generally deal with your claim. If you would like to learn more about your legal rights as a passenger after an accident, contact our team to set up an appointment today.


These cases are very fact-intensive. If you were injured due to another person’s negligence, it’s a good idea to talk a personal injury lawyer to determine whether you have legal options. Manibog Law offers free consultations for potential clients for this purpose—let us help you determine if you have a claim and suggest some next steps for you. Call today to schedule your free consultation: 1-800-MANIBOG.

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