Helpful Information

When Road Debris Causes An Accident

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Feb 23, 2022

Road debris can be incredibly dangerous even for the most careful motorist. Debris on the roadway can cause a driver to swerve and crash their vehicle. The term “road debris” refers to any object that is unknowingly or deliberately left on the road and creates a safety hazard.

Debris-related crashes are more common than many people think.

A 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggested that debris left on the road is a significant factor in approximately 50,000 car accidents annually. Debris left on the roadway results in over 9,800 injuries and approximately 125 deaths each year. Interestingly, two-thirds of all crashes where debris was a factor involved unsecured items falling off other vehicles.

Victims of car accidents involving debris on the road may be entitled to compensation for their financial losses and damages. Consider speaking with a Nashville car accident attorney if you or your loved one suffered injuries in a collision caused by road debris. Schedule a free consultation with our skilled and results-driven attorneys at Labrum Law by calling (615) 338-9500.

Common Types of Road Debris That Cause Car Accidents

Any object that is unintentionally or deliberately left on the road can constitute road debris. Some of the most common types of debris that may result in motor vehicle accidents include:

  • Car parts
  • Tires
  • Road signs
  • Light poles
  • Traffic cones
  • Railroad ties
  • Trees, branches, twigs, or leaves
  • Rocks
  • Furniture
  • Metal debris, including nails
  • Construction barrels
  • Cardboards
  • Broken glass
  • Plastic parts
  • Animal corpses
  • Dirt, mud, or sand
  • Miscellaneous trash

Different factors can cause debris on the roadway. Common causes of road debris include natural disasters, objects falling off of vehicles, and debris left by construction companies.

Liability for Car Accidents Caused by Road Debris

Depending on whose negligence or recklessness caused or left behind debris on the roadway, any of the following parties could be liable for a car crash involving road debris:

  • A construction company
  • A property owner
  • A government agency
  • Other drivers

There are many ways different parties can be held legally responsible for the injuries and losses to victims as a result of a debris-related car accident.

Construction Companies

Construction companies and their workers have a duty to ensure that construction zones are safe for motorists to pass through. Construction companies owe motorists a duty not to create hazards, such as road debris, and to warn drivers of any dangerous conditions. If a construction company or its workers failed to remove debris from the roadway, the company might be held liable for any resulting crashes.

Property Owners

If a car crash occurs on a private road or driveway, the owner of the property might be responsible for the accident if they caused or failed to remove debris from their property. However, a car accident victim would have to prove that the property owner was aware of the dangerous condition or the condition existed for such a period of time that the owner should have been aware of the hazard.

Government Agencies

Public roads are the responsibility of government agencies in Tennessee. State and local governments have a duty to inspect public roadways and maintain them in good conditions to keep motorists safe. Depending on the circumstances of an automobile accident, a victim might be able to pursue a claim against the government agency in charge of the stretch of the highway where the crash occurred if the agency knew about the debris but failed to take reasonable steps to remove the hazard.

Other Drivers

If a victim can prove that the debris was left on the road as a result of negligence or recklessness of another driver (e.g., a truck driver who failed to properly secure the cargo), the injured victim might be able to hold the negligent party liable for the accident. If the negligent motorist has liability insurance, the injured party might be able to receive compensation through the at-fault driver's insurance company.

What Are the Options for Compensation When Road Debris Causes an Accident?

Depending on the circumstances of an accident caused by road debris, there may be several options for compensation:

  1. Collision coverage. Collision coverage may kick in if the policyholder drove over debris, and it is not known who was at fault for causing the dangerous condition.
  2. Comprehensive coverage. This type of insurance coverage may apply if the object was flying through the air before hitting the policyholder's vehicle. The damage caused by the debris could be covered by comprehensive coverage.
  3. Liability insurance. If the object is on the roadway due to another driver's negligence and that driver has liability insurance, the injured party might be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance.
  4. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage is applicable only if another driver who left behind debris flees the scene of the accident or does not have insurance to compensate for the victim's losses.

Generally, insurance companies consider any objects lying on the road as avoidable, which is why receiving compensation through an insurance company may be complicated. In order to obtain compensation, a victim of a debris-related accident would need to prove that the accident or damage to their vehicle could not have been reasonably avoided.

Consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney prior to filing an insurance claim to help you understand your legal rights following a car crash caused by road debris.

Contact a Nashville Car Accident Attorney at Labrum Law

Any car accident can be a life-changing experience. A victim of a car crash might be able to seek compensation for their injuries and financial losses. However, recovering damages after a debris-related car accident can be challenging, which is why you should consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney to help you with your claim.

At Labrum Law, our Nashville car accident attorneys are committed to working tirelessly and fighting on your side to help you handle your claim. Schedule a free case review if road debris caused your car crash. Our attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation to help you determine liability for your accident. Call (615) 338-9500 or complete our contact form.

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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