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Who Is Responsible for a Car Accident Caused by Road Debris?

Law Office Of Mark A. Cornelius P.A.  July 31, 2023

Your common automobile accident involves a collision between two vehicles, but what if you’re out driving along, and a piece of debris suddenly appears? You swerve to miss it but can’t, resulting in damage to your vehicle. Who’s to blame, and how do you get reimbursed for your car’s damage?

The answer hinges on a variety of factors, the first of which is what type of debris and who is responsible for it being there. The second factor is your own level of insurance coverage. If you’re injured because of a debris-related accident, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your automobile policy should cover your medical and related expenses, but property damage is a completely different question. 

If you have been involved in a debris-caused accident in or around Altamonte Springs, Florida, contact me immediately at the Law Office Of Mark A. Cornelius P.A.   

I am a car accident/personal injury attorney who will listen to your story and determine the best options for obtaining the just compensation due you. I will then help you pursue your insurance claim or lawsuit. I also proudly serve clients throughout Central Florida, including Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Volusia, and the counties of Lake and Polk. 

Impact of Debris on Road Safety

Unfortunately, the type of roadway scenario discussed above is probably more common than you think. The Florida Department of Transportation estimates that an average of one crash occurs each day in the state due to road debris of one type or another. Florida law holds those who discharge debris on the highway responsible for any damage they cause due to their negligence, but they themselves may not realize what’s happened until later, or perhaps never, and it can also be hard to locate the responsible party. 

Common Types of Roadway Debris

Debris on the road can come in all shapes and sizes, ranging as small as a tool, lumber, mattresses, ladders, and even household appliances. The worst nightmare is when something dislodges from a vehicle in front of you and comes crashing into your windshield. Even small objects such as clothes or boxes, which may not seem dangerous, can lead to accidents as drivers swerve to avoid them. 

Who Can Be Considered Liable?

Anyone who deliberately or inadvertently causes debris to obstruct traffic can be liable if you can identify them. Operators of all vehicles on Florida’s highways and byways have a duty of care to protect other drivers and vehicles from harm.   

In addition, construction companies that fail to maintain a safe work zone can be held liable. Also, government entities can be liable because they are required to keep roads free of dangerous conditions. However, suing a government agency can be challenging because of what’s called sovereign immunity. 

How to Recover for Your Damages

If you carry basic automobile insurance coverage in Florida, which is a no-fault state, you will be covered under your PIP for any injuries you suffer up to the limits of your policy. Speak with your personal injury attorney to learn more.  

As for damages to your vehicle, the driver who left the debris, whether intentionally or not, can be responsible for your property damage. That person’s automobile liability insurance would pay for your damages, but again, you have to identify the driver and prove negligence on their part.  

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage might come into play if the liable party drove off or is unidentifiable, but this can be tricky too. If the debris on the highway causes you to slam into another vehicle, your property damage coverage will pay for any damage you cause, but for your own vehicle, you would need optional collision coverage. 

Damages You Can Obtain

If you identify the responsible party, you can pursue legal action based on their negligence. Damages you can recover include property damage, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.   

Get Professional Legal Help

An experienced car accident/personal injury attorney can sort through the details of what happened and help you pursue the proper course of action. Accidents involving roadway debris can be challenging, so it’s best to seek immediate legal advice.  

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident resulting from highway debris anywhere in Central Florida, contact me immediately at the Law Office Of Mark A. Cornelius P.A. for legal assistance. I have 25 years of experience in helping people who have been injured or suffered losses in auto accidents. I stand ready to help you too. Your initial consultation is free, and you won’t pay unless we win.