Injured Due to Road Damage or Debris? Here’s What You Need to Know
In this article, we explain how compensation claims related to road debris accident cases may be more challenging than regular auto accident cases and what you can do to increase your chances for recovery.
Despite all the safety advancements and technologies modern cars have to offer, driving remains risky by nature. From adverse weather conditions to human error or negligence, multiple factors could turn a simple commute into a potentially tragic mishap each time you hit the road. Of course, the more you drive, the better you get at predicting and avoiding such dangers—so, most of the time, you arrive at your destination safe and sound.
However, drivers may fail to take into consideration one common danger: road debris. This includes any material, substance, or object that should not be present on the road on account of safety concerns.
Road debris can include a wide range of items, not limited to shredded tires, tree branches, or litter. Whatever its physical form, road debris can be extremely dangerous. According to one famous study conducted by the AAA, road debris was a factor in more than 200,000 crashes between 2011 and 2014, resulting in 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths.
Importantly, road debris accident-related injury claims may be more complex and challenging than is the case with other motor vehicle accidents. In this article, we present an overview of the most important information you may need if you were injured as a result of road debris and are now weighing your compensation options.
First Things First: Document the Scene of the Crash
One of the biggest obstacles to obtaining compensation after an accident caused by road damage or debris is establishing who is liable for the crash. In a typical personal injury claim related to a motor vehicle accident, identifying the injured party and the at-fault party is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, in the case of a road debris accident, it may not be clear who bears the responsibility, as the at-fault party is usually absent from the scene of the crash.
A skillful car accident attorney with previous experience in handling road debris claim may help you establish who may be liable for your accident and injuries. Yet, to make this possible, you need to gather as much evidence from the scene of the crash as possible. Preferably, this should take place right after the accident if your condition allows you to do so.
Here are a few examples of the kind of evidence you should take special care to document:
- Your injuries
- Damage to your car
- Type of debris or road damage that caused the crash
- Scene of the crash, complete with its surroundings
- Skid marks, if present
If you have your phone with you, you should document all these details and take good-quality pictures or videos. If any witnesses of the event are available, you should try to obtain their preliminary testimonies or at least their contact data. It is also advisable to contact the police so that an official report of the accident is made (of which you may be able to obtain a copy later on).
All such evidence will not only help you prepare a strong compensation claim but also may assist your attorney and accident reconstruction specialist in identifying and tracking down the party responsible for your injuries.
Potential At-Fault Parties in a Road Debris Accident
As mentioned, identifying the at-fault party in your road damage or debris accident is an essential step to obtaining financial compensation for your injuries.
Some parties who may be held liable in your case may include:
- Another driver: Often, old tires are carelessly left on the road or car parts fall off a vehicle due to improper maintenance—or lack thereof. In addition, both small and large items may get scattered on the road when they are not properly secured for transportation or transported using unsuitable vehicles. In such cases, the driver of the car may be liable for negligence in allowing debris to lie on the road which led to the accident.
- Trucking company: Road debris may also show up when improperly secured items fall off trucks transporting goods. In this case, the trucking company may be found negligent and consequently liable for your injuries.
- Car or auto parts manufacturer: In rare circumstances, if road debris consists of auto parts or substances that have come off of a defective vehicle, the manufacturer of the car or its specific parts may also be held liable.
- Governmental entities: A governmental entity, either on a state or local level, may be at-fault if it failed to maintain the road to preserve its safe condition. However, to have a successful claim against a governmental entity, you must be able to prove that it was either aware of the issue or could be reasonably expected to have known about it.
As you can see, road debris claims are more complicated than they may seem at first glance. In most cases, a thorough analysis of all evidence and details of the accident by a skilled specialist is needed to correctly identify the at-fault party. If you have been injured in such an accident and are at loss as to your legal options and compensation strategies, consulting an experienced car accident attorney may put you on the right track.