Who Pays for Damages From Road Debris?

Please be advised that the following topic is for informational purposes only and not a legal matter currently handled by our firm. If you need further assistance regarding this particular topic, you can contact your local Bar Association for a referral to an attorney who may be able to address your inquiry in more detail.

Watch out! There’s a ton of road debris on California’s busiest roads.

A ton is no exaggeration. Caltrans removes 9,500 garbage truckloads of debris from California freeways each year at a cost of more than $70 million. That’s over 140,000 tons of road litter flying around on our freeways.

What would you do if road debris suddenly blocked your driving path? You’ll have only a moment to react before swerving, driving off the road, or running straight into the debris. In this situation, there’s always a danger of hitting another vehicle.

Flying Debris and Dangerous Obstacles in the Road

Despite the best efforts of Caltrans and street cleaning crews, car accidents due to road debris are an ever-present danger. As fast as road crews can clean up debris, more is already falling into the streets.

Common causes of debris-related accidents include poorly strapped-down loads, overloaded/imbalanced loads, open truck beds with loose debris, road construction, and items blowing across the roadway in the wind. There could be debris left behind in the road after a previous auto accident or you could hit a huge, crumbling pothole.

Sometimes debris comes loose from the body of a semi-truck itself, rather than its load. For example, an old, bald tire might peel away from the truck and go flipping into the roadway. This could be considered a preventable equipment failure for which the trucking company is liable.

Covering Your Damages After a Road Debris Accident

An accident due to debris leaves you wondering who will cover your medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damages, and more. Why should you have to pay the high costs of an accident that wasn’t your fault?

In California, you can recover car accident compensation from the party responsible for causing your crash. If someone was hauling furniture and it came loose and smashed into your car, you can pursue the driver, their employer if applicable, and/or their insurance carrier. There could be additional entities involved too, like a vehicle rental company or a government agency.

You can pursue accident compensation even if you were partially to blame for the crash. Under California’s comparative negligence rule, each party’s blame for the accident will be evaluated and assigned a percentage. Any award you receive would simply be reduced by your share of the blame.

For example, consider a crash where you were exceeding the speed limit by 10 miles per hour when a truck’s debris tumbled into your path and caused you to crash. Despite your speeding, you can likely recover a significant level of compensation from the trucking insurance company because the debris was the primary cause of the accident.

Even if you crashed into another car, you might be completely shielded from responsibility under California’s emergency doctrine. It states that a driver is held blameless for an accident when confronted by a danger they didn’t create, like sudden debris in the roadway.

Finding the Right Party to Assign Liability

After your accident, it will be challenging to correctly identify who should be held responsible for what happened. Is it the other driver? Their employer? A third party? The government?

Sometimes, a private company or government agency is ultimately to blame. Maybe a construction company left a barrier laying in the roadway or a city road crew failed to remove accident debris from the roadway in a timely fashion.

Here at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we have extensive experience with correctly identifying the proper parties to involve in road debris cases. We can help you track down the right people, build strong evidence that supports your story, and secure your accident compensation as quickly as possible.

Do You Have a Road Debris Claim?

When road debris causes an accident, please contact the attorney team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of personal injury law, including accidents involving road debris damages. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. Click here now for a free case evaluation.

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After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

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It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible