While there is much publicity surrounding certain causes of crashes, such as speeding and alcohol, other catalysts receive far less attention despite being equally dangerous. One example of this trend is road debris. This is a contributing factor to many collisions, and new research indicates that the problem may be more widespread than many drivers realize.
As far as liability, these cases can be quite complex because unless a plaintiff can identify the source of the road debris (e.g., a construction vehicle or truck), the only potential for compensation would be the municipality that had a duty to promptly mitigate road hazards they had actual or constructive knowledge of. Proving actual knowledge (agency received notification of the debris) or constructive knowledge (the agency should have discovered it in the course of using reasonable care) can be tricky. An experienced Bradenton car accident attorney can help you navigate these complex issues.
The Facts About Road Debris
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports road debris contributed to an estimated 25,000 accidents in the year 2001. This represented approximately 81-90 deaths. In the years 2011 through 2014, road debris contributed to an estimated 50,658 car accidents and 125 deaths. Car accidents related to road debris were four times more likely to occur on interstate highways.
The problem of road debris has been found to be prevalent in Florida. NBC 6 Miami reports that accidents caused by road debris have increased by 60 percent in Broward and Miami Dade Counties over the past four years. While these might seem like abstract statistics, they have very real consequences for Florida drivers.
Real Life Tragedies Caused By Road Debris
According to WTSP, a Tampa man was killed when debris crashed through the windshield of his pickup truck. The Florida Highway Patrol believed that the piece of metal was an auto part which may have fallen off the back of another vehicle. While they did not suspect that the incident was intentional, officers were still working to identify where the debris came from. Data from the Florida Department of Transportation showed that nearly 200 tons of material were collected from the roads of Tampa in 2016 alone. This included nearly 12 tons of tires.
Another road debris victim turned her accident into hope for other Florida road users. NBC 6 Miami reports on the story of a car accident victim who, at the age of thirteen, was struck by a metal construction rod which crashed through the windshield of the car in which she was riding. The rod passed through her body, only three centimeters from her heart, and lodged in the seat behind her. Paramedics had to cut the rod in half to extricate the victim from the vehicle. The rod was successfully removed from her body at the hospital. In the years following the accident, the victim and her family successfully worked with community leaders to change state laws and enact roadway safety measures. One such measure was the creation of the FHP line to report debris and other dangers in the road.
It can sometimes be difficult to ascertain the legal cause of an accident to seek compensation for injuries. Consult with a Bradenton car accident attorney as soon as possible after any type of traffic accident to protect your legal rights.