Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 at 11:02 pm
Who is Responsible for a California Accident Caused by Road Debris?
Debris on California roads is hazardous and dangerous. Accidents from debris cause traumatic injuries each year. In October 2015, fencing that fell from the 23rd Avenue overcrossing caused at least eight vehicles to crash on I-880 in Oakland. Road debris related crashes have been a problem for many years.
A story in the LA Times from 2002 spoke of the dangers of falling and flying debris on roads in Southern California. The news story reported that debris falling off pickup trucks included couches, doghouses, dishwashers, and refrigerators. Passenger vehicles were no better with mattresses and ladders being some of the items falling into the road.
As far back as 2002, the problem was known to the CHP and efforts were made to enforce California Vehicle Code §24002(a) that makes it illegal to “operate any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in an unsafe condition, or which is not safely loaded, and which presents an immediate safety hazard.” In 2004, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released The Safety Impact of Vehicle-Related Road Debris highlighting the seriousness of this issue. Unfortunately, accidents caused by debris in the road continue to be a serious problem for drivers throughout California.
How can accidents occur from debris in the road? Some ways include:
- Swerving to miss road debris and colliding with another vehicle or object;
- Colliding with road debris;
- Debris falling off vehicles and striking other vehicles causing an accident;
- People hit by vehicles when they are trying to retrieve debris or remove debris that has fallen on the road;
- Cargo falling from commercial trucks;
- Items falling from passenger vehicles that are overloaded or improperly secured, and,
- Debris left in the road after a vehicle accident.
Determining Fault in an Accident Caused by Road Debris
In some road debris accidents, it is clear who is at fault for the accident. For example, if a person is transporting furniture from their old apartment to their new home and a couch falls off the truck causing an accident, the driver can be held responsible for damages and injuries caused by a crash if he was negligent in securing and/or transporting the furniture. If a cargo truck causes an accident due to road debris, the driver, the truck company, and the company that loaded the cargo may all be held responsible for damages.
The liable parties for road debris accidents are not always easy to identify. Road debris accidents can be extremely complex and complicated. In the accidents involving the fencing on I-880, who should pay for the damages of the many accident victims? The company who produced the fencing, the company who installed the fencing, the inspectors who approved the work, the company who designed the overpass, the city, the state — the list could go on and on. You need an attorney with extensive experience investigating accidents. The attorney must understand how to identify all of the responsible parties for your accident.
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