Debris on the road is a common issue people encounter all across the United States. According to the American Auto Association (AAA), between 2011 and 2014, road debris played a part in more than 200,000 crashes nationwide, causing 500 deaths and around 39,000 injuries.

In Louisiana, drivers can seek compensation for damages they suffer due to another’s actions, such as suddenly swerving into their lane. However, can you be held liable for their injuries if you swerve while trying to avoid an object in the road?

Read on to learn whether you are responsible for another person’s injuries if you swerve to avoid road debris and how the attorneys at Dudley DeBosier can help you navigate your case.

Facts About Accidents Caused by Road Debris

According to studies on road debris accidents, crashes caused by moving or stationary debris are about four times more likely while driving on interstates than on rural or urban roads.

About 37% of fatal debris accidents are caused by drivers who swerve to avoid flying or stationary debris. Most debris-related accidents happen between 10 a.m. and 3:59 p.m., likely due to people moving equipment and furniture during this timeframe.

Types of Road Debris

Road debris accidents happen due to two types of debris: moving and stationary. Moving debris, sometimes called flying debris, is typically sudden and unavoidable, whereas stationary debris may offer drivers a chance to maneuver around the object.

Moving (Unavoidable or Flying) Debris

Moving debris accidents caused by items flying off of improperly maintained vehicles or unsecured loads make up about two-thirds of debris-related accidents. Moving debris occurs when items like furniture, tools, or equipment aren’t secured properly and the item or pieces of the object fly off at high speeds.

Moving debris can also be caused by rusted car parts like bolts, screws, metal pieces, or worn-out tires falling of a preceding vehicle. Common examples of flying debris that you may have to swerve to avoid include:

  • Detached vehicle parts
  • Tires
  • Wheels
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Separated tow trailers

Stationary (Avoidable) Debris

Stationary debris is any item that is lying on the road’s surface and is not moving. It’s typically considered avoidable because the law presumes drivers can see the debris before encountering it on the road, giving them enough time to switch lanes and avoid the hazard.

This type of debris can come from cars, commercial vehicles, damaged traffic signs, or natural elements like trees. You may encounter the following stationary debris on Louisiana roads:

  • Furniture left on the road
  • Trees or branches lying in the roadway
  • Car parts or tires that remain stationary on the road or highway
  • Animals that have been hit by a vehicle
  • Poorly placed traffic cones

Who Is At Fault for Accidents Cause by Roadway Debris?

Determining fault for car accidents caused by debris is challenging. Liability for damages caused by a debris accident is based on many factors. If your actions, such as swerving, caused the collision, you may be responsible for damages to the other driver. However, if you can identify where the debris came from, you and the other driver may both be able to file a claim with that driver’s insurance.

In many cases, you would hold more liability for an accident caused by stationary debris than moving debris. For example, you are driving down the highway and see a large chair on the road. Assuming you had time to notice the chair before approaching it if you suddenly swerved and hit another car, you’d likely be responsible for their damages.

If you swerved because of sudden flying debris, an attorney can help reduce your liability. For instance, if you were driving behind a truck with several pieces of wood strapped into the bed. If a wooden board suddenly flies off, giving you no time to avoid it without swerving, you can work with an attorney to prove that the truck driver is liable for damages for failing to properly secure the boards.

Proving Negligence in an Insurance Claim

To prove negligence for an insurance claim for a debris accident, you must be able to show where the debris came from and that the other party’s negligence contributed to the accident and resulting damages.

A Baton Rouge car accident attorney from Dudley DeBosier can help you investigate your case and determine if another person’s actions caused the debris and your accident. We can gather the following evidence to support your claim and minimize liability:

  • Dash cam footage
  • Photos or video footage
  • Police reports
  • Witness statements

Schedule a Free Case Review for Your Debris Accident

Understanding your liability in a crash involving road debris can be difficult. Speaking with an experienced attorney from Dudley DeBosier can help you understand your potential liability for the crash and legal options regarding making an insurance claim.

Contact our lawyers to schedule a free consultation and get help navigating your debris accident claim.

This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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