According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 50,000 accidents in the United States are caused by road debris each year. These accidents can result in serious injuries, especially when they occur on high speed highways or interstates.
How Road Debris Accidents Happen
Road debris often comes from other vehicles. There are two main sources:
- Unsecured cargo, such as when people are moving household goods to a new location or transporting lumber and other materials for a home DIY project
- Poorly maintained cars and trucks, especially those with problems related to exhaust systems or tires
Ratchet tie downs should be used to secure cargo in a truck. Some trucks have tie down points that are post holes built into the truck bed, while others are D-rings. Cargo nets, tarps, bungee cords, rope, and cam straps can also be used. However, drivers who do not transport cargo on a regular basis may not be fully aware of how to secure items to avoid losing the contents on the way to their destination. Drivers who don't have access to a pickup truck may cause accidents by trying to transport large items in the trunk of a car or on the roof.
Car that have maintenance issues can also cause road debris hazards. Maintenance-related problems can be easily avoided by having a trained mechanic regularly service the vehicle. However, drivers who are struggling financially may put off necessary car maintenance due to an inability to afford the cost.
When debris falls from a vehicle, drivers often instinctively attempt to swerve to avoid a collision. This can result in losing control of the vehicle and/or creating a chain reaction accident involving multiple cars. The safest course of action when debris falls from a vehicle is to slow down as much as possible before impact.
Liability for Road Debris Crashes
When a driver loses cargo or poor maintenance of his vehicle leads to road debris that causes an accident, he is liable for the resulting damages. This includes:
- Medical costs related to the accident
- Applicable future medical needs, if the accident causes a permanent disability
- Lost wages while the victim is recovering from his injuries
- Applicable loss of future earning potential, if the accident causes a permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
You may be found partially responsible for the accident if you were speeding or tailgating, since these actions make it difficult to react in time to avoid an accident. As a partially at-fault driver, you are still entitled to compensation in a personal injury claim. However, your compensation will be proportionally reduced by your percentage of fault to reflect your own financial responsibility for your damages.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Louisiana law typically gives you one year from the date of the car accident to file a personal injury claim. However, since valuable evidence can be lost as time passes, it's in your best interest to begin the process as quickly as possible.
To win your personal injury claim, you will need to prove that the defendant's action or lack of action caused your accident-related injuries. This can be done with witness testimony, photos of the accident scene, surveillance video, accident reconstruction, and/or law enforcement reports.
You will also need to have your damages thoroughly documented. Medical expenses can be documented with copies of hospital bills, insurance statements, and records from care providers. Lost wages can be documented with copies of pay stubs and a letter from your employer. Anticipated future medical costs and/or loss of future earning potential require expert testimony to establish how your accident-related disability will affect your future financial needs.
The majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court. However, this does not mean it is wise to forgo legal representation. An experienced attorney can establish liability, document damages, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault has extensive experience advocating for the rights of Louisiana residents who've suffered serious auto accident injuries. Contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your legal options.