Who May Be Liable for an Accident Caused by Debris on the Roadway?

February 10, 2022Car Accidents

Sometimes, the most dangerous road conditions are caused by debris rather than unsafe drivers. Road debris can come in many forms, from tools off work trucks to large cargo boxes from semi-trucks. However, many accidents are caused by a driver swerving to avoid debris rather than striking it head-on.

Liability for Road Debris Accidents

To hold a party liable for an accident caused by debris on the roadway requires determining where the debris came from. If you saw the debris fall onto the road and couldn’t avoid it, then you will know where the object came from. However, you may not always be able to tell and will have to rely on other methods. Other ways to find out include eyewitnesses, dash cams, security footage, or checking the debris for a name or company logo.

When Debris Falls From a Personal or Commercial Vehicle

If the object that caused your accident fell from a personal or commercial vehicle, the following parties may be liable:

  • The driver, for failing to check their load was secured correctly.
  • The owner or company that owns the vehicle
  • The loading company responsible for securing and properly loading cargo onto a commercial vehicle.

Drivers can also be held responsible if their reckless driving causes the cargo to fall and lead to a collision.

When Debris Falls From a Government Vehicle

If a government-owned or operated vehicle is responsible for an object that fell on the road and caused an accident or the poor maintenance of a public road, a government or municipality may be liable. Successfully pursuing a claim against a state or local agency can be challenging and complicated as there are special protections for public institutions. However, if the debris was not adequately addressed in a timely manner, you may have a case.

What If Someone Causes an Accident While Swerving to Miss Debris?

The law requires drivers to be defensive and ready for any hazards on the road. This includes objects like potholes, trees, and debris. If a person causes an accident because they swerve too quickly to avoid debris, they will most likely be liable for any property damage and injuries. However, if the at-fault driver can prove that the debris came from another vehicle or source, they could shift some responsibility for damages.

How to Help Your Case When an Accident Is Caused by Debris

After being involved in an accident caused by debris on the road, your health is the highest priority. Call 911 or seek medical help if you are severely injured. If you can remain at the scene before seeing a doctor, make sure to document everything you can. Take photos of the debris, where it was on the road, the surrounding area, the damage to your vehicle, and your injuries. If anyone else pulls over that witnessed the accident, ask for their contact information and if they will make a brief recorded statement on your phone and include whether they saw where the debris came from. Notify your insurer of the accident, and depending on your coverage, you may be able to file a claim to repair your vehicle and pay for your medical care. The last critical step is speaking to a St. Louis car accident attorney. They can advise you of your legal options and help you determine who can be held liable for your collision.

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