At one time or another, most of us have encountered debris on roadways. Whether the obstacle is the remnant of a ruined tire, an object that’s blown or fallen off of a truck, or a garbage can that’s rolled into the street, we’re usually able to course-adjust and avoid an accident. However, not every driver is so fortunate—particularly when debris is encountered on an Interstate, where speeds are high and heavy traffic may prevent successfully swerving to avoid the object.
A four-year study by AAA identified more than 200,000 debris-involved crashes during that period. These accidents resulted in about 39,000 injuries and more than 500 traffic deaths. The number of debris-related collisions was up 40% compared with a similar study conducted in 2001.
Fault in Road Debris Accidents
It’s easy to think of a collision with road debris or an accident caused by a driver attempting to avoid debris as just a freak accident. However, debris doesn’t simply appear on the Interstate.
In the same study referenced above, AAA reported that about 2/3 of debris-related crashes were caused by items that had fallen from a vehicle due to improper maintenance or unsecured loads. Without this negligence, the vast majority of accidents caused by debris on the road could be eliminated.
Operating an improperly-maintained vehicle on public roadways or failing to secure materials that could come loose and strike another vehicle or create obstacles in the roadway is negligent, and the drivers, employers, equipment owners and others who are responsible can and should be responsible for damages caused by this carelessness.
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Liability in Commercial Trucking Cases
While debris occasionally comes from a pick-up truck carrying a young adult’s belongings to college or the rack on a local handyman’s van, the more likely source of obstacles in the roadway is a commercial vehicle transporting goods, components, construction materials, or other matter. As in any other commercial trucking accident case, identifying each responsible party and gathering evidence can be difficult and complicated.
When debris falls from a commercial transport vehicle, the driver may be responsible. But, there are many other people and entities who may be responsible for the accident, including:
- The person or company who loaded the truck, if it was not the driver
- The company that designed and/or manufactured the tools used to secure the load
- The company that designed and/or manufactured the truck
- Anyone in the supply chain for either of these materials, such as the dealership where the truck was purchased
- The driver’s employer or the company the driver contracts for
- The owner of the truck
Untangling who is responsible amidst complicated business relationships and intersecting state and federal laws can be daunting. Contacting a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling commercial trucking cases can be the best first step. An experienced truck accident attorney will know how to investigate liability and construct evidence to support your claim.
Talk to an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Timing counts in a New York personal injury case. The applicable statute of limitations should not be your only concern. In a case involving a commercial equipment, ordinary use and maintenance can obscure or destroy evidence. The sooner you connect with a knowledgeable advocate, the better opportunity that attorney has to construct a strong case on your behalf.
You can get started right now by filling out the contact form on this page, or by calling 212-732-2929.