Under liability laws, anyone who leaves debris in the road inadvertently or intentionally can be held liable for any resulting damages, such as if a driver crashes into that debris and gets hurt. However, find the person or party that left debris in the road is a challenge. For many cases, it is completely impossible to know who left a stray box, coach, Christmas tree, etc. in the road because the junk falls off their car without them ever noticing or stopping.
HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT WHO DROPPED DEBRIS ON THE ROAD?
If you did not see who dropped the debris that caused your car accident, then it is possible that another motorist did. Ask anyone who stops to help you if they got a clear picture of who dropped the debris. You might also have some luck with nearby traffic cameras or places of business. Many retail shops have security cameras that face the front of the store, which could have recorded the moment the debris fell off a moving vehicle. Talk to an attorney about how to get video footage either from a traffic cam or a private business.
CAN YOU SUE THE GOVERNMENT FOR YOUR DAMAGES?
Public roadways must usually be maintained by municipal or state-level entities, like your state’s Department of Transportation. Such entities can sometimes be held liable for damages after a driver crashes into or because of roadway debris that was left unattended for an unreasonable amount of time. Proving that debris has been left in the road for an unreasonable amount of time can be just as difficult as finding who dropped the junk in the first place. It is most likely that the defending governmental entity would argue that they were never told of the debris and never had time to find it on their own. As the person pursuing damages, the evidential burden will be on you to prove that the debris had been left there unattended for days or possibly weeks.
WHAT SORT OF JUNK ENDS UP IN THE ROAD?
If a commercial truck loses cargo on the road, it could drop:
- Pallets of product
- Scrap metal or wood
- Fruits, vegetables, and other foods
- Hay bales
Other drivers might lose the following on the road and not realize it:
- Christmas trees
- Food left on the roof
UNINSURED MOTORIST CLAIMS FOR ROAD DEBRIS CRASHES
Do you have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your car insurance policy? It might be possible to use it to collect damages after you crash into unattended debris on the road and cannot identify who left it there. Different policies have different allowances for debris-related crashes, though. You will want to review your policy to see if you should be filing a claim against your own insurance provider.
If you can use your uninsured motorist coverage, then you should expect that your insurer might fight you on it. In such a turn of events, you should speak with a car accident lawyer for legal guidance about what to do next. You can use their experience and insight to go up against your insurance company and pursue the full compensation that you deserve.
Huffman & Huffman offers comprehensive legal services to injured drivers throughout Virginia. Call (757) 599-6050 if you need help figuring out how or if you can file a claim after crashing into stray road debris.
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