How many times have you had to veer around an object lying on a road? Or are you among the Americans in 200,000 road debris crashes from 2011-2014? If so, you may be entitled to payments for car accident injuries from road debris.
Unsecured Loads Litter Lanes
Throughout America, unsecured loads have fallen off vehicles to littler lanes of traffic and threaten lives and property. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 39,000 persons were injured and over 500 were killed in the four-year period noted above. Among deaths caused by road debris, 37 percent of victims swerved to avoid debris and then collided with other vehicles. With a fraction of a second to act, it’s a natural impulse to try to avoid a certain collision with an object ahead, with no time to assess traffic and calculate the perhaps greater risk of colliding with another vehicle in the process. Most such accidents occur on freeways in the middle of the day. Drivers going faster on freeways have less time to react and avoid crashes with road debris.
Photo by Samir Delic (iStock by Getty Images)
Such debris may be loads from the beds of pickup trucks or other vehicles used to haul large objects, or perhaps furniture, ladders or mattresses improperly attached to passenger vehicles. Pieces of boats, trailers or other things being towed also can break off and fall onto roads, or even an entire trailer can come loose and collide with following vehicles. Lumber or pallets also can spill onto roadways, as can construction equipment. Even small objects such as hammers or saws can cause major accidents when struck by a vehicle at high speed.
Road Debris Accident Laws, Lawsuits
In Texas and all other states, drivers who create road debris are legally liable and can be fined. Texas law holds that contributing to road debris is a misdemeanor and can bring fines of $25 to $500. Sixteen states, but not Texas, have laws which can send drivers responsible for road debris to jail after tragic accidents. Virtually all such crashes are preventable. If loads had been properly secured, they wouldn’t have dropped onto roads in the first place. If your road debris accident involved debris from an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, diesel truck or other large commercial truck, you may be able to target a road debris lawsuit against the trucking line or company and assert that federal regulations governing the trucking industry were violated. Such regulations hold that all loads on tractor trailers or flatbed trucks must be properly secured to prevent them from shifting or falling.
Insurance Roadblocks to Road Debris Settlements
Unfortunately, insurance roadblocks can make it hard to collect road debris settlements. For one thing, drivers injured by road debris often can’t determine its source. The spilling vehicle may be long gone, and the debris may lack identifying marks. That leaves uninsured motorist coverage, which can protect you in a hit-and-run crash where another vehicle leaves the scene. But insurers try to deny such coverage for road debris crashes. They tend to hold that uninsured motorist coverage (which every motorist should have) does not apply when there is no physical contact with the unidentified vehicle. The Texas Supreme Court even issued a ruling that drivers must be struck by a whole vehicle to claim benefits for injuries under uninsured motorist coverage. Road debris doesn’t count. Insurance companies also may try to blame injured drivers by claiming they weren’t driving at the proper speed or following distance in a road debris crash. Yet each car accident has different circumstances, and your road debris crash may present a way to claim damages in the legal arena. Notify a road debris accident lawyer with Jim S. Adler & Associates for a free legal case review on whether you can claim payments for your losses.