Who Is Responsible When Road Debris Causes An Accident?

Earlier this summer, the City of Houston and the Texas Department of Transportation closed a key Spur 527 connection to Brazos Street just a few miles from our office. A bridge spanning Smith and Holman had deteriorated to the point that it was dangerous for vehicles to drive on it. Officials were also concerned that broken chunks of the bridge would fall on to the two streets below and cause accidents. 

Sobering Statistics 

No matter where it comes from, debris on the road is a serious problem. Even small amounts can cause serious car accidents. Researchers at the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that road debris plays a part in around 50,000 crashes each year. Around 9,800 people in those accidents are injured, and 125 of them are killed. 

Where did that come from?

Getting into an accident caused by debris on the road is frustrating as well as dangerous because it is often difficult to determine who was at fault. 

Semi-trucks regularly drop tire treads, and hitting a piece can cause serious damage to your car. If you didn’t see the piece come off, you may never identify the trucker who lost it. 

Construction companies regularly lose tools and equipment that are not properly secured. Sometimes it is labeled and the owner can be tracked down, but often it is not. 

And we have all seen a couch or two on the side of the road that the owner was too embarrassed or scared to go back and pick up after it fell off of their car. 

If the person or company that littered the roadway can be identified, they can often be held responsible for the harm they caused because they acted negligently or violated a law or mandatory safety standard. 

When it is unclear how the debris got on the road, or who is to blame, we do the best we can to help our clients track down the responsible parties. But more often than not, the best thing we can do to help our clients get the compensation they need to heal their injuries and fix their cars is negotiated on their behalf with their insurance company. A lot of policies cover injuries and damages caused by road hazards. The key is gathering the relevant information and submitting a claim quickly and accurately, then advocating for the compensation you deserve. 

A Clear Culprit 

Sometimes bad roads or ongoing road construction are to blame for the condition of the highway. In those situations, we help our clients hold the relevant government entities accountable for the harm they have caused. 

In these situations, it is important to figure out exactly where the accident occurred so we can identify the roadway’s owner. Our highway system is a mishmash of roads owned and maintained by the state, by the county, by the city, and by individual property owners. Who is at fault can have a big impact on the ease of recovery. 

Don’t Suffer 

While the old saying “accidents happen” may help you feel better about what happened to you on the roadway, it should not discourage you from seeking compensation if you have been injured or your car has been damaged in an accident caused by road debris. Our team can help you get the money you need to treat your injuries or repair your vehicle. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.