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Accidents Caused by Road Debris

Tree branch causes accident

We’ve all seen items by the side of the road that flew off a passing vehicle, and many of us have had close calls while dodging objects flying off the back of a truck traveling at highway speeds. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to avoid colliding either with the object or a neighboring car. A recent study looked at the prevalence and seriousness of road debris crashes, and found them to be a substantial source of injury accidents.

The study in question was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety using data gathered from several national databases that contain reports of serious, police-reported accidents. Researchers sought to discover how many debris-related accidents occurred each year, and how many resulted in serious or fatal injuries. An accident would be considered debris-related when a vehicle either hit an object that fell from another vehicle or was already loose in the roadway, or crashed while attempting to avoid an object in the roadway.

According to the AAA Foundation’s report, between 2011-2014 there were over 200,000 crashes where road debris was a factor in causing the crash. These crashes caused roughly 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. The most dangerous of the three types of debris-related accidents identified by researchers were those resulting from a driver attempting to avoid an object that had fallen from a truck or was already in the road. These types of accidents resulted in an estimated 5.9 deaths per 1,000 crashes, as compared to crashes involving a vehicle striking or being struck by an object falling off another vehicle, which resulted in 1.4 deaths per 1,000 crashes, or incidents where a vehicle struck an object already in a lane of traffic, which resulted in 2.2 deaths per 1,000 crashes. The researchers suggested that this increased fatality risk stems from the results of the driver’s behavior in attempting to avoid the crash, such as vehicle rollovers, crashes with trees or concrete barriers, or collisions with other vehicles.

Nearly 66% of all road debris-related crashes resulted from items falling from a vehicle which were not properly secured. Drivers towing trailers, hauling heavy cargo, or transporting loose debris are expected to carefully and properly secure such items either to the bed of the vehicle or to the trailer hitch. When a driver fails to use a reasonable amount of care to secure such items, they can be held liable for accidents caused by falling items. In fact, Virginia drivers are obligated under the Virginia code to ensure that any load being transported is loaded and secured so as not to drop or escape onto the roadway. An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate these claims and seek damages against vehicles responsible for causing your road debris accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident in Virginia, find out if you may have a legal claim for your medical expenses, lost work, or pain and suffering by contacting the determined and effective Charlottesville personal injury lawyers at Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz for a consultation, at 434-977-7977.

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