Road Debris – Who Pays for Your Damages?
In most cases, vehicle accidents are caused by the negligent actions of a driver, but there are certainly times when debris on the roadway can lead to dangerous situations. If you or a loved one have been involved in a vehicle accident caused by roadway debris, then you need to know how to recover compensation for your losses. Here, we want to more thoroughly examine possible liability scenarios for a roadway debris accident in North Carolina.
How did the Debris Enter the Roadway?
Debris can end up on the roadway in a wide variety of ways. Often, no one is to blame for roadway debris. For example, animal carcasses can end up in the roadway after being struck by vehicles, or trees and other types of debris can fall across the street due to a storm. High winds or floods can lead to yard chairs or plastic playground equipment ending up on the road. In these situations, you have a vehicle strikes the debris that ended up there completely accidentally or due to nature, and it is unlikely that any person will be held liable for the incident.
However, there are times when individuals or companies are responsible for debris that ends up in the roadway. For example, if a pickup truck driver does not secure items in the truck bed, they could be held responsible for any debris that causes an accident. The same can be said for commercial drivers that fail to secure their loads, which is what they are required to do under federal law. If this cargo falls out on the highway or any other road and causes an accident, the truck driver or trucking company could be held responsible.
The most important aspect of a row debris claim is proving liability. In many cases, debris that falls onto the roadway off of another vehicle is not noticed until the incident occurs. Sometimes, nobody knows how the debris got there, and it can be hard to track debris back to specific individuals or companies. However, if there is evidence of a negligent party, including video surveillance or eyewitness testimony, then it may be possible to hold these other individuals responsible.
Was a Duty of Care Neglected?
Ultimately, we will have to look and examine whether or not a person violated their duty of care when working to recover compensation in these situations. The first element of proving negligence is establishing a duty of care. Any driver, or any other individual, that allowed debris to end up in the roadway knowingly, or if they failed to clean up the debris after knowing it was there, could be held responsible.
Additionally, state, county, and local officials also have a duty of care to regularly inspect and maintain their roadways. This includes cleaning up any debris that causes a hazard to drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. If a government official notices debris in the roadway and fails to take steps to either clean the debris or place warning signs around the debris, they could be held responsible if an accident occurs.
Holding drivers or other parties responsible for roadway debris will typically involve filing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. Holding government entities responsible for roadway debris accidents can be challenging because this involves showing that the entity knew about the debris and then failed to take steps to remove it or warn others.
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a roadway debris accident, please speak to a skilled Raleigh car accident lawyer as soon as possible.