Whether it is something as large and dangerous as a truck tire, or as innocuous as a cardboard box, anything flying, rolling, or resting in the road can present a serious risk for an accident and injury. If you have been involved in a wreck that was caused by road debris, it is important to understand your rights and legal options.
The seasoned car accident lawyers at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC understand the confusion and challenges that can accompany a serious car wreck. If you’ve been hurt in a wreck, call our office right away. We can explain your rights and what you can expect under the law.
What Is “Avoidable” Road Debris?
Insurance companies consider any debris that is lying in the road to be avoidable. This includes detached trailers, furniture, and even puddles and oil slicks.
If you crash into avoidable road debris, the insurance company may determine that you were at fault for the accident. To recover damages in this situation, you will need to file a claim with your own insurance company and risk increased premiums. It may not even be worth filing a claim if the damage to your vehicle does not exceed your premium.
If you suffered an injury in a collision with road debris, the insurance company may not cover your medical expenses unless you have coverage for medical payments. This type of policy covers medical expenses you incur after a traffic wreck that was your fault.
Medical payment coverage, however, usually doesn’t help with other damages such as pain and suffering or lost wages. Without this coverage, you will have to turn to your health insurance.
There are certain cases in which an exception to this rule may exist. For example, if a vehicle crashes after colliding with a poorly placed traffic cone, the construction company that placed the cone could be found liable for subsequent damages.
Additionally, In New York, the New York Department of Transportation (NY DOT) has a duty to keep roadways free of debris. If you can prove that NY DOT knew about debris, dead animals, or other dangerous obstructions in the road and failed to correct the issue, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation against the government.
What Is “Unavoidable” Debris?
When debris such as falling cargo or decorative items fly off nearby vehicles and cause you to crash, you may be able to file a comprehensive claim through your own insurance. Flying debris is considered unavoidable.
In an ideal case of flying debris, the other driver would notice that material had flown off his or her vehicle, stop to collect the debris, and exchange insurance information with you. This would allow you to pursue compensation for medical bills, car repairs, and pain and suffering through the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If debris flew from a commercial truck, you may be able to bring a claim against the trucking company. If a vehicle defect caused debris to fly off another vehicle and caused your wreck, you may also be able to seek damages from the manufacturer.
Swerving to Avoid Road Debris
If you swerve your car to avoid an erratic driver and get into a car accident as a result, it would be considered a no-contact crash and you could recover compensation from insured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, crashing your vehicle to avoid road debris would still be considered an at-fault accident.
On the other hand, if you collide with another driver who swerved to avoid road debris, you may be able to recover damages from the swerving driver.
What Should I Do After a Road Debris Accident?
If you have been in an accident because of debris in the road, consider taking the following steps:
- Move your vehicle out of traffic and harm’s way.
- Call the police.
- Request immediate medical attention if anyone is hurt.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, including the position of the debris, and damage to your vehicle.
- Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the crash.
- Seek medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are minor; a prompt medical assessment of your injuries can benefit both your health and your case.
- Call O’Connor & Partners, PLLC to discuss your case for free with an experienced car accident attorney.
Contact a Kingston Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you were involved in a car wreck because of road debris, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as quickly as possible. Every case is different, and it can be difficult to know how the details of your crash affect your ability to seek damages from your insurance company or someone else’s.
The seasoned car accident attorneys at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC have substantial experience in a variety of car accident claims. During your free initial consultation, we will listen to your story and explain your rights and legal options.
Call O’Connor & Partners, PLLC today at (845) 303-8777 for a free case evaluation. Our firm serves clients in Kingston, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and other areas in New York.