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Who Is Liable for a Road Debris Accident?

Loveland Car Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Hold Negligent Parties Accountable for Road Debris Accidents.

Road debris is a real danger while driving. Road debris could come from many sources, which could make determining liability difficult. When there is an identifiable source of road debris, the person or entity that created it is liable for damages or injuries caused by the debris. The liable party might be another motorist, a trucking company, or a construction crew. The liable party also might be a government entity. More than one party also might be liable for the road debris accident.

A dashcam is a great way to determine if an object fell off a vehicle and struck your car. You might see the license plate number and have video footage of the vehicle and the object that struck your car.

What Are Common Causes of Road Debris Accidents?

Virtually any object on the roadway is considered road debris and might do much more than flatten a tire or ding your vehicle. It can cause a car accident, catastrophic injuries, or even death.

Road debris often consists of:

  • Loose and improperly loaded cargo.
  • Parts that detach from a vehicle and fall from it.
  • Trailers that separate from the tow vehicle and become obstacles in the roadway.

Other types of road debris include construction equipment from road improvements, tree limbs or entire trees, and damaged pieces of concrete or asphalt from the roadway.

Common Factors in Road Debris Accidents

Road debris could damage your vehicle just about anywhere, but certain times and locations make road debris accidents more likely. When you know the common times and places, you can do a better job of avoiding road debris.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), accidents caused by road debris are four times more likely to happen on an interstate. More people are likely to haul items on an interstate as they move items from one location to another. The interstate has fewer stops and fewer distractions than when traveling in a city or a more urban environment.

The NHTSA also says about one-third of all road debris-related accidents occur between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Those are the hours when the visibility is best and commerce is most active. They also occur between peak driving hours, which makes it easier to haul items from one location to another.

If you routinely drive on highways during daylight hours, you run a greater risk of getting into an accident caused by road debris.

How Does Road Debris Cause an Accident?

Many of these accidents happen because a motorist tries to swerve suddenly to miss the obstruction in the road. Sudden evasive maneuvers could cause your vehicle to lose traction and cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Road debris might be hidden by darkness, another vehicle, or a bend in the road. Its sudden appearance could cause drivers to panic and react in a way that causes an accident.

Even when a motorist reacts improperly to road debris, that motorist is not necessarily liable for causing an accident. The fault likely would be with the entity that caused the road debris.

When the State Is Liable for Road Debris?

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is responsible for maintaining state and local roads so they are reasonably safe for travel. Road debris that collects in the roadway and damages your vehicle or injures its passengers could make the ODOT liable for the damage.

The ODOT maintains highways, interstates, and state roads. When road debris collects in those roadways, the state is responsible for removing it and maintaining safety. If you suffer damage or injuries from road debris on roadways maintained by ODOT, you could file a claim.

An experienced attorney could help identify the liable parties and hold them accountable.

When a Government Municipality Is Liable for Road Debris?

A government is responsible for ensuring all federal interstates and highways are reasonably safe for travel. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) enables accident survivors to hold the government accountable for damage caused by road debris.

In extremely rare cases, a government municipality may be liable for a road debris accident. It is hard to prove fault in these situations. The government would need to be aware of the hazard but failed to correct it.

Third Parties Might Cause Road Debris

There are many ways in which third parties could be liable for damages or injuries caused by road debris. If a vehicle is improperly maintained or a load is improperly placed on a trailer by a third party, that party could be liable for any resulting road debris.

Suppose you are driving through a construction zone that is controlled by a contractor. The contractor must ensure no debris blocks the roadway so that vehicles can pass through the construction zone with a reasonable amount of safety. If the contractor leaves debris that causes an accident, the contractor could be held liable for damages.

Another way that third parties might cause road debris is when trailers and vehicles are owned and worked on by third parties. If a part falls off of an improperly maintained tractor-trailer, the owner could be liable. Also, so might a third party that performed substandard maintenance or repairs.

If an object falls off a trailer, a third party might have loaded it improperly. If so, that third party might be liable for damages. Such parties might include a warehouse facility where loads are picked up and dropped off.

Loveland Car Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Hold Negligent Parties Accountable for Road Debris Accidents

If you suffered property damage or severe injuries due to road debris, one of our experienced Loveland car accident lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office can help. You can call us at 513-488-1135 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Loveland, Ohio, and we serve clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.