It’s a driver’s nightmare—hitting road debris that actually causes an accident. Driver-on-driver accidents are scary, but at least you’re dealing with another person. Road debris is just an object, and you can run across objects at any time that range from large rocks to exploded tractor trailer tires. Usually, you have plenty of time to drive around such obstacles, but sometimes they sneak up on you without warning—causing an accident just as bad as if it were with another driver.
You can’t sue debris, so what happens after you hit it? Obviously, call 911 first to make sure you are physically all right and that your car is safely out of the road. Then make sure you take the following steps.
Collect evidence about the accident.
Capture as many details as possible. What kind of debris did you hit? Where was it located? What happened? Did you see the debris fall off a vehicle? Was it already in the road? Also detail what kind of damage it caused to your car and any injuries you sustained.
Identify anyone at fault, if applicable.
In some cases, you can blame road debris on a person or organization. For example:
- Vehicles that improperly secured dangerous items
- Debris related to construction, either government or private
- Clear government negligence, such as knowingly not removing dangerous debris from a road
Note that it’s incredibly difficult to prove fault or negligence in these cases. Vehicles that dropped debris are often impossible to chase down, and you must prove government negligence beyond a shadow of a doubt. Through “sovereign immunity,” the United States government is essentially protected from getting blamed for typical debris on the road that it may not have gotten to picking up through the course of its normal duties.
If you’ve got enough evidence for an at-fault case, pursue it like you would a car or truck accident.
Similar to a truck accident, there could be multiple entities at fault. Is it the driver? A company? Which company? A personal injury attorney can help you build a case against the person or organization at fault by:
- Examining the existing evidence
- Reconstructing the scene of the accident to show clearly what happened
- Working with the person’s or organization’s insurance company to negotiate a settlement or go to court
If you don’t have enough evidence for an at-fault case, then you will work with your insurance company through your collision policy.
It’s unfortunate that even though hitting road debris is usually not your fault, insurance companies treat road debris accidents as if they were your fault. They assume for legal reasons that you could have avoided the debris. Even though the law does not punish you and you’re covered under your collision insurance, the label “at-fault” prevents you from seeking any more compensation or benefits beyond your collision coverage. That’s why it’s important to consult a personal injury lawyer to make sure you’re not allowing someone to go unpunished and that you’re not leaving money on the table.
Unclear if a road debris accident means you or another organization is at fault? Call us today for a free consultation.