According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, road debris is responsible for nearly 10,000 injuries in car accidents each year in the United States. We’ll first look at what road debris can cause to motorists and then we’ll examine who is responsible if debris lands on your car.
Contact a Spartanburg car crash attorney with extensive experience in complex motor vehicle accident cases if you have any further questions. Hernandez & Cabra has car accident lawyers available in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
What Are Considered to be Flying Debris?
According to vehicle accident statistics, over 400 accidents were caused in South Carolina by road debris in a 2019 report. Nearly 50 of those accident caused personal injuries. “Swerving in order to avoid an object” was the reason for hundreds of collision-related injuries. Another statistic revealed that nearly 800 collisions were caused by “other movable objects” (an object other than a vehicle or animal, pedestrian, train, maintenance apparatus, or roadway fixture).
When discussing road accidents, what kind of objects is considered “debris?” Any hazard not intended to be on the road can be considered debris. Particularly dangerous is flying debris. Flying debris is especially dangerous for drivers. These objects can cause collisions, vehicle damage and injury, as well as personal injury. Drivers don’t expect them to be there. These are the most common road debris items in Spartanburg, SC and across the United States:
- Tires chucking fallen rocks and stones
- Flat tires
- Unsecured items that are able to fly from a truck bed (appliances and equipment, furniture, etc.)
- Tree limbs, and other plant debris
- Garbage and litter
- Broken guardrails
- Oil and other liquid spillages
- Accidental damage to another vehicle
- Motor vehicles often kill deer and other animals.
- An trailer is being towable by another vehicle that has not been hitched
- Broken parts of an auto have fallen from a vehicle that has been damaged
According to the national road debris accident statistics, about two-thirds (or more) of all debris-related accidents are caused by items falling from vehicles. These could be broken parts falling from vehicles that have been neglected or unsecured loads falling from trucks. This kind of road debris can be dangerous as it appears suddenly and while the vehicle is still moving. Other drivers often have little to no time to react in order to avoid a collision.
How Do You Determine Who is Liable in an Accident Involving Debris?
It is important to consider the type of object that caused the collision. This will determine who is responsible if debris hits your car and causes damage. When considering liability, you should consider two types of objects: a tree limb that fell naturally into the road or an unattached sofa that flew off of another driver’s truck.
Drivers are right to question whether insurance covers debris from a road accident. It will depend on which policy you have. Contact your insurance representative. Your collision coverage should in most cases cover road debris collisions that occur on the highway. If you have any questions or concerns about your claim, speak to your attorney. A car accident lawyer’s job is to ensure that auto insurance companies do not try to exploit policy-holders by paying them less than they are entitled.
What if another driver caused the debris? Who is responsible for road debris that shouldn’t be there? It may be a good idea to sue if another driver caused the flying debris and caused your vehicle damage or injury.
If someone fails to secure a sofa in their pickup truck properly and it crashes into your car, the driver is likely to be responsible. Your lawyer and you will have to work together to collect evidence that proves the negligence of the at-fault driver. Failing to secure large objects is one of the main causes of flying debris accidents. Holding negligent parties responsible can help prevent future incidents.
Other situations may also exist where road defects or defective parts or badly maintained roads could have caused the accident or damage to your car. You could be at fault if a negligent manufacturer of auto parts was involved or if the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), was negligent in its duty of maintaining safe roads for South Carolina drivers. A skilled car accident lawyer can help you determine who is responsible and hold them accountable in these situations.
Debris on the Road is Dangerous for Motorists
There are many dangers that can be posed by road debris, as we’ve already discussed. Highway debris-caused accidents have caused too many deaths and injuries.
It can lead to:
- Vehicles can sustain external damage like cracked windows, cracked windshields, dents and popped tires.
- Vehicle damage that causes internal vehicle stalling/breaking down
- A collision between one vehicle and another occurs when a car crashes into a guardrail or tree, building, or any other object.
- When a car tries to avoid debris, it can cause two or more accidents
- Rear-end collisions that occur when a car suddenly brakes
- Airbag deployments can cause injuries
- Collisions with other vehicles can cause injuries to the head, neck, spine, and nerve trauma.
- Traumatic injuries or fatalities can occur when a large object is introduced through the windshield
- When a sharp object cuts through the vehicle, it can cause injuries such as bleeding or other complications.
- Motorcyclists without helmets can sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs).
You can reduce the likelihood of road debris collisions by taking simple preventative steps.
Avoiding Debris-Caused Crashes
AAA provides road safety tips to motorists in order to avoid being involved in or causing a road debris accident. Motor vehicle operators can reduce the chances of a road debris collision by properly maintaining their vehicles and securing trailers and loads. Keep these things in mind when maintaining your vehicle:
- Tires that are worn, underinflated, or overinflated can cause a rolling debris accident.
- Rusted hardware could fall off and strike another vehicle.
- Loose parts and fenders are serious road hazards.
- Car safety is a key component of regular maintenance.
Also, ensure that every object you move or tow is securely secured. You should not have any chance of an object falling out of your vehicle. All heavy items, including furniture, ladders, equipment, machinery, and appliances, should be secured tightly before you start driving. AAA recommends that drivers secure all loads properly before they drive. Here are some tips:
- Use rope, netting or cords to tie the load down securely.
- Cover the whole load with netting or a tarp
- Large objects can be attached directly to the trailer or vehicle.
- Take care not to overload your vehicle
- Double or triple trailer hitches
- Weight distribution should be evenly distributed
- To make sure that nothing is missing, pull and push on the pieces of the load.
- Before you drive, always double-check the load.
If you see that another car on the highway around you is carrying a potentially-dangerous load, stay as far away as you can. You should be extra cautious when driving alongside large vehicles or drivers towing heavy loads. Avoid following too closely in all situations. To avoid falling or flying debris, sweep the road repeatedly with your eyes. You should continue visual searching for debris at least 12-15 seconds ahead of yourself on the road.
You should not brake abruptly or swerve suddenly if you see the danger of being hit by debris. This can cause accidents with other vehicles, as we’ve already discussed. Instead, slow down as safe as possible before you make contact with the object. If you feel it is safe, steer clear of its path.
What to Do After Your Car is Hit by Flying Debris? Call Hernandez & Cabra
Our legal team can provide legal advice if you have questions following a debris-caused collision. Each motor vehicle accident is unique. However, it is not easy to determine who is responsible for car accidents. It can be difficult to determine who is responsible for an accident involving flying debris. A lawyer can help you after an auto accident.
An attorney for car accidents is there to help you get the compensation you deserve after an accident. We work tirelessly to make roads safer for all. They should be held responsible for negligent behavior that causes harm to other drivers. Our team at Hernandez & Cabra is committed to improving road safety in South Carolina through conscientious legal action. Call our office at 864-501-4384 for a confidential discussion about how we may be able to help you.