Philadelphia Road Debris Accident Lawyer
The Dangers of Road Debris
In 2015, the driver of a gasoline tanker truck died in a crash after swerving to avoid roadway debris. Mattresses and box springs fell off a cargo van on the New Jersey Turnpike, and when the tanker driver swerved to avoid them, he lost control of his truck. It flipped over a guardrail and burst into flames.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, between 2011 and 2014, roadway debris accidents in the United States injured 39,000 people and caused 500 deaths. Debris-related crashes most frequently occur on highways, and about two-thirds are blamed on unsecured loads or improper maintenance.
When a muffler, piece of furniture, or other large object falls off a vehicle on a highway, other drivers may have only moments to react. Swerving to avoid objects in the road often leads to serious crashes.
Drivers injured in a crash caused by roadway debris may be entitled to compensation from the parties responsible for the crash. Insurance companies may try to avoid settling in such cases, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that crash injury victims get the payments they deserve. If you believe roadway debris is to blame for your crash and injuries, call Wapner Newman today for your free consultation: 1-800-LAW-6600
Liability in Debris-Related Crashes
The usual cause of a debris-related crash is an object that falls from a vehicle. Sometimes, there are witnesses to that event. Other times, no one witnesses a driver losing cargo or a car part. If that debris causes a crash, investigators will try to determine where it came from.
When a driver hits a stationary object in the roadway, or swerves to avoid it and crashes, insurers consider that an “avoidable” accident, meaning any damages would be covered by that driver’s policy only. But if it’s possible to locate the vehicle that dropped the debris, a crash victim may be able to make a claim against that driver’s liability insurance policy.
Finding the Drivers
When drivers either don’t know they’ve caused a crash or fail to report a known debris-related crash to police, roadside traffic cameras and dashboard cameras may be useful in finding them.
In 2016, a woman’s dashboard camera captured a frightening crash in Minnesota – a motorcyclist crashed when a large roll of water mat broke free of a boat in front of him and entered his path. The driver of the SUV towing the boat reported to authorities, once he realized he had caused a crash. And the motorcyclist suffered only minor injuries.
Drivers who knowingly lose cargo and fail to notify police create a great risk for other motorists. Such was the case in Texas, when a pickup truck lost a mattress on the highway. A motorcyclist hit the mattress, and the force of the crash ejected him from his bike, into a light pole, killing him. Witnesses told police investigating the crash that they saw a truck pull onto the shoulder, and two women got out to check the truck bed and readjust the load – no mattress was in the truck at the time. Traffic camera footage from the day of the crash showed a truck matching witness descriptions, with a mattress in the truck bed. Months after the crash, police were still searching for the driver of the truck.
A Pennsylvania driver did come forward after causing a debris-related crash in 2014. Police said a mattress fell off his truck on Route 15 in Cumberland County, and the vehicle behind him crashed when it swerved to avoid the mattress. Four people were injured in the crash, and police said the driver who lost the mattress did not stop to render aid.
Pennsylvania law requires drivers to secure loads on their vehicles. Violation of that law may result in a fine of $100 to $300, or $300 to $1,000, if the violation resulted in damage to other vehicles, property, or people. Still, people routinely skirt the law – perhaps because they don’t understand the risk of unsecured objects.
People may assume that a heavy object like a couch won’t fall out of a truck bed, or that they don’t need to secure objects if they’re driving only a block or two. But the U.S. Department of Transportation says that’s faulty logic – akin to when people argue they don’t need to wear their seatbelt, because they’re not driving far.
If you’ve been injured in a roadway debris crash, we want to hear from you. Wapner Newman’s experienced personal injury attorneys have helped injury victims in New Jersey and Pennsylvania get the compensation they need to move on with their lives. Request your free, no-obligation consultation today, using our online form or by calling 1-800-LAW-6600.