If you have been driving for long enough, you have more than likely been on a road that has debris all over the place. It is inevitable that, eventually, that debris is going to get elevated and hit a car. For larger pieces, it is very possible that someone does not see it, hits it, then gets into an accident. So, in cases such as this, who is at fault if injuries occur as a result of the debris being on the road? Who can you sue if you were injured due to road debris?
Very Common Cause of Accident
If you think this is a rare situation, think again. A study that was conducted in California looked at accidents from 2011 to 2014. During that span, a shocking 200,000 car accidents/crashes occurred as a direct result of debris in the road. Of those, 47 people died from 45 different accidents. This was an increase of 40 percent since the last study was conducted in 2001. With so much more construction and more cars on the road than ever before, it is probably a pretty safe assumption that when the next study is conducted, these numbers will be even higher.
What the Study Found
The study referred to was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The major causes of debris-related crashes were:
- Roughly 37 percent of the accidents were caused due to a driver swerving to avoid the debris.
- More than one-third of the accidents occurred between 10:00 a.m. and 3:59 p.m., which was associated with individuals hauling equipment and/or furniture.
- The most common location of debris-related accidents was interstate highways, where the debris is more likely to become detached or fall out of vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.
For the purpose of this study, debris was classified as anything that become unhitched from a tow vehicle of any sort as well as litter or parts that fell off a vehicle or trailer (this would include things such as retread tires off trucks).
Avoidable Road Debris
Where things start to get tricky is in getting the insurance company to pick up the tab. As it turns out, in the insurance companies’ eyes, just about all debris is avoidable if it is merely sitting in the road. Now, nobody expects to you to be able to avoid a 2×4 flying out of the back of a junk truck, but if a fridge is sitting in the middle of the highway, the insurance company would consider that a piece of avoidable debris.
There are exceptions to this general rule, however, as there usually are, but it could be a painstaking process to prove guilt, especially if the local, state, or federal government is believed to have been at fault.
You may think swerving to avoid a piece of debris that results in a crash would be an acceptable excuse, but that is not usually the case either, so you can see why any debris-related accident is cause to hire a car accident attorney.
Who Do I Sue for Debris-Related Accident Injuries?
In an obvious situation, such as something flying out of the back of a truck, you would more than likely be able to sue the driver or the company associated with the other vehicle. If the debris was just left in the road or created by a construction crew working for any level of government, things get far more complicated.
Suing the Government
You may be able to file a tort case against the local, state, or federal government due to a debris-related accident. For instance, many roads are contracted to be cleaned regularly to keep them free of debris by whatever level of government is responsible for a specific road or highway. If they are found to have been negligent in cleaning, you may be eligible to file suit. The same can be said if workers were negligent in placing warning equipment, such as a road cone.
You should note, however, that in most states, there is a limited window of time in which to file these suits. For instance, in California, suits must be filed within six months of the accident, so you are going to have move relatively quickly to file your suit if it was caused by a government worker or contractor.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer for Accident Injuries from Road Debris
Were you recently in accident that was caused by road debris? If you suffered injuries, you could benefit from discussing your accident with a member of our legal team to see if you have a case. The consultation is free of charge, and you are under no obligation to use our services for merely speaking to a member of our team, so give us a call at 855-633-0888 . If you would like to learn more about our legal services before contacting us, please click here .
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and Injury law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any injuries from vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.