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The Reality of Road Debris Accidents

Posted on 06/27/22 by admin in Auto Accidents

Road debris is an unfortunate reality all drivers deal with. Whether it comes from other vehicles, surrounding natural formations, or just miscellaneous trash and litter, it can be a hazard to passing motorists. It’s quite a common one too. According to American Automobile Association estimates road debris is a cause in an average of 50,000 crashes a year. Their findings showed road debris as a clear and present threat to any driver. We’re talking a look at this issue. As well as how it can further complicate already-thorny questions of fault, liability, and negligence.

Accidents involving road debris can affect people and their families greatly in a number of ways. These kinds of incidents can have high financial consequences. These include pain and suffering, ambulance fees, lost wages, medical charges, and physical therapy payments. These debts have the potential to mount up quickly, leading to severe stress. In addition, dealing with the psychological and emotional fallout from these mishaps may be extremely difficult, particularly for individuals who suffer serious injuries and the people who love them. Following an accident involving road debris, family members can suffer severe mental and emotional pain in addition to the person who was directly impacted.

Road debris can detach from passing vehicles

What is “Road Debris?”

Any object left in the road, intentionally or unintentionally, qualifies as road debris. This represents a hazard to drivers regardless of factors like size and weight. Common smaller categories of road debris like plastic garbage bags or cardboard boxes may seem like no threat. However, these may hold jagged metal, glass, or rocks to crack your windshield or puncture your tires. Even an empty plastic bag may become stuck to your windshield and impair your vision. Avoiding this debris is instrumental to minimizing your risk of injury behind the wheel.

Larger debris can be much more apparently dangerous and is usually much easier to spot. Fallen trees and branches can be a common occurrence during severe storms. Trees, along with light and telephone poles, can even block multiple lanes of traffic if they fall. Leftover equipment from road construction, including traffic cones and other dividers, can also be debris if not properly disposed of or removed from the work site.

Road debris accidents can happen due to various reasons such as:

  • Unsecured loads falling off vehicles from negligent drivers
  • Objects from construction sites
  • Hazardous conditions not addressed by government entities.

For instance, objects like:

  • Furniture falling from trucks
  • Construction equipment left on the road
  • Tire treads from big rigs
  • Tree limbs

Even household appliances can become road hazards. When drivers collide with these objects, it can lead to loss of control. This may cause secondary accidents, causing more harm than the initial impact of the debris itself.

The Costs Associated with Road Debris Accidents

Road debris accidents can result in a variety of costs. These costs can be financially burdensome and emotionally challenging for those involved. These costs may include:

  • Medical bills.
  • Lost wages due to injuries preventing individuals from working.
  • Expenses related to ambulance transportation.
  • Physical therapy costs for rehabilitation.

The cumulative total of these injury-related expenses can accumulate rapidly, creating a heavy financial strain. In addition to the significant financial costs, the mental and emotional impact on victims and their families can be profound. This emotional toll is particularly challenging for individuals who have suffered severe injuries. Their effects extend beyond the injured person to impact their loved ones and support system. Thus, the costs associated with road debris accidents go beyond just the financial aspect. They encompass the broader spectrum of physical, emotional, and mental implications.

Avoiding Road Debris

Road debris accidents can be prevented by taking proactive measures such as recognizing and avoiding avoidable road debris. If one identifies debris that poses a risk, it is important to take an alternative route and inform the appropriate authorities to address the issue. Keeping a safe distance from vehicles with unsecured loads and avoiding driving directly behind semi-trucks can also help prevent accidents caused by road debris. It is crucial to be vigilant and take necessary precautions while on the road to minimize the risk of accidents related to road debris.

“Unavoidable” and “Avoidable” Debris

Fallen trees are a common source of road debris

The majority of road-debris related accidents are caused by objects falling off other vehicles. This can mean tires or parts of side panels fall off the vehicle. More common are large pieces of cargo such as furniture or household appliances coming unsecured from trucks and causing an accident. This sort of debris is classified as “unavoidable,” and the driver of the vehicle with improperly secured cargo can be held liable for any damages caused by the resulting accident. As in any other vehicular accident, a police report, witness statements, and information about the negligent driver and their vehicle will be instrumental in any effort to secure compensation.

Conversely, debris already present in the road at the time of the accident will be considered “avoidable.” From your insurance company’s point of view, if you had control of your vehicle you should have been able to avoid the debris, and therefore avoid the accident. It will be extremely different to hold another party liable for these kinds of accidents. You’ll need to find who placed the debris in the road in the first place, which may be impossible. Furthermore you’ll have to prove that the negligent party knew about the debris and did not remove it in a reasonable time frame. Theoretically a construction company or government entity (most likely the state Department of Transportation) could be held liable in an avoidable debris case, but establishing negligence can be difficult.

It should be noted as well that if you cause an accident while swerving to avoid road debris, the insurance company will almost certainly consider you at fault for the accident. If you must swerve to avoid debris, you should make every effort to do so safely. Even colliding with a guardrail could mean thousands of dollars in damages.

Determining Responsibility

Responsibility for road debris damage is typically determined based on several key factors. The responsibility can lie with various parties involved.

  1. The Other Driver: If road debris that leads to a car accident originates from another vehicle, the driver of that vehicle is usually considered responsible for the damage caused by the debris. This includes any resulting property damage or personal injury.
  2. Government Entities: In cases where road debris has been present on the road for an extended period and contributes to an accident, the government entity responsible for maintaining that particular road could be held liable. This is especially true if it can be proven that they were aware of the debris but failed to address it in a timely manner.
  3. Manufacturing Defects: If the road debris that causes an accident is found to be the result of a manufacturing defect, the company responsible for producing the defective item could share fault for the accident. It is important to consider all potential factors and parties involved when determining responsibility for road debris damage, as liability may be shared among multiple entities depending on the circumstances of the accident.

If You’re Involved in an Accident

Road debris accidents can be sudden and severe

In order to investigate accidents effectively, it is vital to address the challenge of obtaining information on the at-fault driver to hold them accountable for damages caused. One of the primary obstacles lies in driver lack of awareness that debris has fallen from their vehicle. This may lead them to continue driving without stopping. This creates a time-sensitive situation. Even a short delay can result in the responsible driver being miles away from the scene. Identifying the liable party becomes increasingly complex under these circumstances.

To navigate these challenges, seeking assistance from experienced personal injury attorneys is crucial. Skilled professionals can conduct thorough investigations by:

  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Accessing traffic camera footage from relevant departments of transportation
  • Matching damage to specific components of the responsible driver’s vehicle.

By leveraging their expertise, attorneys specializing in road debris accidents can help ensure that the accountable party is identified and held responsible for the damages incurred.

How Malloy Law Can Help

Responsibility for road debris damage can fall upon different parties. In cases where road debris causes an accident, the negligent driver whose vehicle the debris came from may be held responsible. If the debris has been on the road for some time and the government entity in charge of that road was aware of it but did not take action, they could also be at fault. Additionally, if the debris is a result of a manufacturing defect, the manufacturer of the vehicle may share liability for the accident caused by the road debris. It is essential to consider various factors and parties when determining responsibility for road debris damage in an accident.

To schedule a free consultation with Malloy Law Offices, individuals who have sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia can contact the law firm. The experienced lawyers at Malloy Law Offices are available to analyze your case. Their team will also address any questions you may have during the consultation process. Malloy Law Offices stands out in handling road debris accident claims due to the unparalleled expertise and experience of our attorneys, with collective experience in successfully recovering multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients.

Our firm is dedicated to providing a top-notch attorney-client relationship. It  is our goal to ensure that each client receives personalized attention and guidance throughout the legal process. When you choose our firm, you can expect a commitment to serving your best interests. We’ll be fighting vigorously on your behalf to help you recover the damages you deserve. Our attorneys are prepared to assist you in filing a claim, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Contact us today and let’s win your case.