Austin Road Debris Accidents Lawyer
Road Debris Accidents on the Rise
In May 2016, a San Antonio woman driving on Highway 281 suffered a severe head injury, when a metal rim from another vehicle broke free and crashed through her windshield. That accident is one of several that have occurred on Texas highways the past few years due to road debris, and similar crashes are on the rise nationwide.
Car parts that break loose and unsecured cargo are some of the most common causes of debris-related crashes. According to a AAA Foundation report released in August, most of these crashes occur on the highway, where high speeds raise the risk of serious or fatal injuries, either when an object comes into contact with a vehicle or a driver swerves to avoid an object in the road.
If you’ve suffered an injury in a debris-related accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Manufacturers or mechanics could be found to blame for car parts that detach on the roadway and injure motorists, and trucks carrying improperly secured loads may be liable for injuries caused by their loose cargo. The only way to know for sure whether you have a case is to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. Call our office today for your free consultation: 1-855-414-1012.
Types of Debris-Related Accidents
The AAA Foundation report – “The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014” – looked at three types of debris-related crashes:
- Vehicle struck/was struck by an object that fell from another vehicle (Type 1)
- Vehicle struck a loose object in the road (Type 2)
- Vehicle swerved to avoid a loose object and crashed (Type 3).
Type 1 crashes increased dramatically between 2013 and 2014 – to 27,729, from 14,749. And 94 percent of Type 3 crashes were blamed on loose car parts, like tires and bumpers that fell into the roadway.
Car parts may break loose due to rust or poor maintenance, and there have been instances of families suing mechanics for poor workmanship that resulted in a crash. While not linked directly to any crashes, one investigation of a tire shop owner in Cedar Park found he had sold damaged and improperly sized tires to customers. In two instances, investigators found that instead of replacing auto parts, the man simply spray-painted them black, which resulted in two felony charges against him.
Injuries, Fatalities and Penalties
Between 2011 and 2014, there were about 200,000 debris-related accidents, resulting in a median of 9,805 injuries and 125 deaths per year, according to the AAA Foundation. And those figures don’t account for the number of near-misses, like an incident on Highway 123, where a metal plate broke off a semi and crashed through the windshield of a car, narrowly missing the driver and passenger.
A motorcyclist hit the mattress and was thrown from his motorcycle, suffering fatal injuries. Witnesses told police they later saw the truck pulled over on the shoulder, with two women examining the contents of the truck bed, yet months later, no one had come forward to report to police that they had lost the mattress.
Even when drivers do own up to their failure to secure cargo, the penalties are often minor. In New Jersey, mattresses fell into the road and caused a fatal crash, and the driver of the truck that was carrying the mattresses received a citation for failure to secure his load.
Responsibility to Remove Debris
In Texas, public and private organizations share the task of removing debris from roadways and road shoulders, but confusion often arises about who is responsible for a specific section of road. For example, as reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NTE Mobility Partners, which is modernizing the Loop 820/Texas 121/1283 area, is responsible for clearing only the middle portion of the road to the outside curb of the highway; however, NTE workers voluntarily clean litter from other areas near the roadway.
If you see an object in the road that could potentially cause a crash, call 9-1-1. Objects on the road shoulder don’t pose as much of a risk, but if a driver needed to veer onto the shoulder in an emergency, debris could be dangerous. Motorists can report the presence of roadside debris to the Texas Department of Transportation – either online, or at 1-800-558-9368.
Help for Injured Motorists
Accident injuries caused by roadway debris are often severe, such as traumatic brain injuries or craniofacial injuries that require multiple reconstructive surgeries. If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by roadway debris, don’t wait to get help. Call the Evans & Herlihy Law Firm today at 1-855-414-1012 to request your free consultation, or contact us via our online form.