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What to Do If You Are Injured Due to Road Damage or Debris

By Butler Prather LLP on December 26, 2019

When you think of accidents that occur on the roadway, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most likely, you think of a collision with another vehicle. Perhaps you think of pedestrian or bicycle accidents.

But what happens if you suffer car accident injuries due to road debris or road damage?

You have probably seen debris on the roadway when driving, and you have certainly seen damaged roadways. A study by AAA has found that road debris is responsible for several thousand injuries and hundreds of deaths each year in the US. Crashes caused by dangerous roadway conditions are a major problem in our area.

You may have a claim against another driver or company

In the case of roadway debris, foreign objects in the roadway are often there due to other drivers. Some of the most common objects that end up in the roadway include:

  • Couches and furniture
  • Tires
  • Lumber
  • Loose or improperly stored cargo
  • Decorative items fallen from a car
  • Mattresses
  • Car parts from improperly maintained vehicles
  • Christmas trees during the holiday season

If you are able to identify the driver whose vehicle an object fell from, you may be able to file a claim against their insurance company to recover compensation for any injury or damage expenses. The driver’s negligence (improperly secured items) means they could be held liable.

Similarly, if the foreign object fell off of a commercial truck or another vehicle that belongs to a company, you may be able to file a claim against that company’s insurance carrier. Commercial vehicles typically have a duty to ensure that all cargo is properly secured before they begin their journey.

You may have a claim against the government

The government has a duty to ensure that the roadways are properly maintained and free from all known hazards. If you are injured by road debris or a defective roadway condition, you may be able to bring a claim against the municipal or state government responsible for the roadway.

Pursing a personal injury claim against a government entity can be complicated. In most cases, there are special statutes in place that limit a government agency’s liability in these cases. Generally speaking, you and your attorney will need to prove that the government agency responsible for the roadway had notice of the damage or debris or should have known about the hazard. You will also have to show that the government agency has enough time to remove or repair the hazardous situation and failed to do so.

Some of the most common examples of government negligence on the roadway include:

  • Failing to remove debris after a car accident
  • Failing to remove dead animals on the roadway
  • Failing to fix broken pavement, potholes, or other damage
  • Failing to remove trees, storm debris, or other objects from the roadway

What you can do after a crash

Every situation is different. If you are involved in a crash with a foreign object or one that was caused by defective roadway conditions, call the police immediately. Let them fill out an accident report and determine what caused the incident. If they are able to, the police will find and cited the at-fault party or at least document who they believe the liable party is. Contact an attorney to discuss your case and to ensure you follow the processes necessary to secure the compensation you are entitled to.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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