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Debris in the road is a factor in over 1,000 accidents in Arizona every year. The frequency of accidents involving road debris raises questions about liability. Learn how debris causes accidents, how responsibility for debris can be determined and who may be considered at fault in accidents involving debris.

How Does Debris in the Road Cause Accidents?

The term “debris” describes any object located in the path of traffic. Any of the following items can be debris on the road:

  • Cargo
  • Car parts
  • Construction equipment
  • Downed power lines
  • Downed light poles
  • Fallen trees
  • Trash

Debris causes accidents when drivers collide with an item on the road or try to avoid hitting an item and collide with another obstacle. A driver can be found at fault and held liable for damages and injuries resulting from a crash that involves debris if the collision was avoidable.

Obstacles posed by road defects can fall under the same category as debris. Cracks in asphalt, divots, potholes, loose asphalt, malfunctioning traffic signals and missing guardrails or reflectors are examples of road defects.

Who Is Responsible for Road Debris Damage?

In the case of unavoidable debris, the party that introduced the debris to the road or the party responsible for maintaining a safe roadway could be held responsible. These parties could include a construction company, contractor or government entity.

The city or state government responsible for maintaining safe public roads may be liable for debris in the road if this party fails to clear roads or post warnings about impending hazards. Other drivers could be liable for leaving debris on the road if the driver involved in a collision and a Phoenix car accident attorney can prove the source of the debris.

Is Hitting Road Debris an At-Fault Accident?

Collisions with debris on the road can be at-fault accidents if a reasonably prudent driver could avoid obvious hazards. If the party responsible for maintaining a road posts warning indicators, a driver who collides with debris is likely to be found at fault.

Drivers have a responsibility to exert reasonable efforts to avoid debris or other road hazards. Presenting evidence in the form of dashcam videos, photographs of the scene of an accident or eyewitness statements can support the argument that debris was impossible to avoid.

Does Insurance Cover Damage From Road Debris?

For the purpose of making an insurance claim, a policyholder must be able to prove that debris posed a non-obvious or unavoidable hazard. Insurance companies are likely to argue that reasonably prudent drivers should be able to avoid obvious hazards.

Some auto policies exclude damage caused by debris. Drivers in Maricopa County should check policy terms to see whether a collision with debris is a covered peril.

How Do You Prove Liability for Debris In the Road?

If you have suffered injuries or losses in an accident caused by debris in the road, the negligent party could be responsible under Arizona law. Identifying the type of road debris involved in an accident is the first step toward proving liability. Contact Sargon Law Group to schedule a consultation with an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney.