Potholes and Road Debris: Common Hazards for Texas Traffic
With the warmer months, construction season is also upon us, and more drivers are on our already-congested highways and roads. One of the dangers this creates are road debris accidents. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 9,805 people were injured and 125 people were killed annually in debris accidents from 2011 through 2014. The majority of these wrecks occurred on highways—especially deadly due to the high volume of traffic and higher speeds. Unfortunately, obtaining compensation for injuries caused in these crashes can be complicated due to the potential liable parties.
Common Causes of Road Debris Crashes
There are many different types of road debris that cause crashes, including mattresses, blown-out tires, loads on trucks, large potholes, and road construction debris. An unsuspecting driver can attempt to swerve out of the way when he sees an object flying OKtoward him or a large pothole on the road. This can cause an even worse crash if he hits another motorist. The causes of these accidents include:
- Unsecured loads. When car and truck drivers fail to secure their loads, the load can spill onto the road or fly right into the windshield of a nearby vehicle.
- Road maintenance. Local governmental agencies responsible for roads and highways have a duty to keep them clear of debris left by other motorists or while road construction is being performed. In addition, these governmental agencies are responsible for repairing any potholes, large cracks, and other defects in roadways that can lead to automobile accidents. When they fail to do so, an accident is the likely result.
- Road construction. When roads are being repaired, they can be left in a temporarily unsafe condition where cracks and potholes pose dangers to drivers. In addition, construction materials and debris left in the path of vehicles can cause accidents when drivers must swerve to avoid the obstacle.
- Lack of vehicle maintenance. When passenger vehicles and trucks are not properly maintained, the tires can blow out, leaving tire rubber strewn across the road, or other vehicle parts that are loose can fall onto the roadway.
Who Is Liable in a Debris Auto Wreck?
It can be difficult to determine liable parties in a car accident caused by debris on the roadway or road defects. Here are potential liable parties:
- A private party. A passenger vehicle driver or truck driver and trucking company could be liable if improper loading caused a load to fall onto a road or highway. However, sometimes drivers do not realize that their load has fallen or do not care and just drive away. Determining the identity of the party may be challenging in this situation.
- Governmental entity. If a governmental entity was responsible for road maintenance or road construction, it may have breached its duty to provide adequate road maintenance or to keep road construction areas debris-free. However, holding a government responsible for your injuries can be complicated; there are special notice requirements that you must follow, and the time limits for filing a claim are often shorter than for other defendants.
- A construction company. Often construction companies are hired to perform some roadway construction jobs by local or state government agencies. If they left potholes or dangerous cracks on a roadway or did not store construction materials and debris off the road, they could be liable if this negligence causes a car accident.
You need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to determine who is responsible for compensating you following a debris wreck and to negotiate your settlement. Resolving a claim with a governmental agency can be especially challenging. Attorney Steve Lee is here to help. Start an online chat to schedule your free consultation to discuss your options for compensation and to get your questions answered.