Many drivers have had the experience of cruising down the highway and hearing a loud pop, then seeing a new crack or “star” in the windshield. Flying debris, such as rocks kicked up by a tractor-trailer or flying debris from the back of a truck, cause damage to many vehicles and can contribute to crashes. You may consider yourself lucky if all you’ve had to do was repair or replace a windshield after a flying debris accident.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that from 2011-2014, road debris was a factor in more than 200,000 police-reported accidents resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. The study cited accidents that involved being hit by objects falling from vehicles, hitting objects in the road and crashing after swerving to avoid debris in the road.
After an accident involving flying debris that causes vehicle damage or injury, there may be multiple options for obtaining compensation for your losses. In Indiana, the truck accident attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC in Indianapolis can investigate who is liable for an accident caused by roadway debris and help you determine your best legal options for seeking a financial recovery. Our lawyers have experience representing large truck and car accident victims.
What Happens in Road Debris Accidents
The AAA study found that about two-thirds of debris-related crashes are caused by items falling from a vehicle due to unsecured loads and improper maintenance.
The most common types of roadway debris originating from vehicles are:
- Unsecured cargo falling onto the roadway
- Parts becoming detached from a vehicle, such as tire treads, and falling onto the road
- Tow trailers becoming separated and hitting another vehicle or landing on the roadway
Accidents involving fallen debris are over four times as likely to occur on interstate highways as on other roadways. Debris-related crashes are more likely to occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. when limited visibility makes the debris more difficult to see. However, one in three crashes involving debris occurs between 10 a.m. and 3:59 p.m., when truck drivers and others are transporting materials as part of everyday business.
Crashes involving flying and fallen debris have increased by 40% since 2001, AAA says.
Large Commercial Trucks and Cargo Spills
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates interstate trucking, has detailed regulations for cargo securement. The regulations govern how trucking companies secure cargo so it will not shift within a trailer or on a flatbed or fall from large truck onto the road. The FMCSA also requires truck drivers to regularly check cargo loads to ensure they remain secure.
Statistics for cargo spills within the trucking industry are hard to come by, but truckers and trucking companies are required to report spills of hazardous materials. They range from consumer commodities, such as aerosols and lighters, to dry ice; explosives, gases and flammable liquids; patient specimens and infectious substances; and radioactive materials.
FMCSA reports for 2019 show 3,670 hazmat incidents in-transit resulting in six fatalities, four injuries requiring hospitalization and 31 non-hospitalization injuries. Hazardous cargo spills caused $51.2 million worth of property damage in 2019.
As of mid-November 2020, there had been some 80 in-transit hazardous material spills in Indiana over the course of the year, as well as more than 300 more during loading, unloading or in-transit storage. Altogether, they caused one death, one hospitalization and $3.34 million in property damage.
The fatality occurred February 20 when a tanker carrying about 4,000 gallons of jet fuel rolled over on a freeway ramp and exploded near I-70 and I-465 on Indianapolis’s east side. The truck driver escaped the wreckage and was hospitalized in critical condition but died later.
Are Truck Drivers Responsible for Broken Windshields and Personal Injuries?
If you are injured or suffer vehicle damage because of flying debris or debris in the road from a cargo spill, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses through an insurance claim.
To file a claim, you would have to show that the truck driver and/or truck owner was responsible for your losses. This can prove difficult if the trucker fails to stop, either because they are unaware of the fallen cargo or because they intend to avoid accountability.
In a crash caused by running into debris that few off of a truck, the insurance company may try to argue that debris lying in the road is avoidable and, therefore, you were at fault for the accident.
In smaller claims, such as a cracked windshield, you may have to seek compensation through your own comprehensive insurance or pay out of pocket.
In disabling accidents, such as a truck rollover or jackknife accident, the trucker and his or her role in the accident are more easily identified. However, you are still likely to face a fight from the trucking company, which may deny responsibility and blame other parties.
After a cargo spill, the trucking firm may try to point the finger at a third-party vendor that loaded the cargo or claim the driver is an independent contractor and, therefore, the trucking company bears no responsibility for the accident.
The terrible harm commercial truck accidents can do and the difficulty innocent drivers face when they seek justice is why the truck accident lawyers of Craig Kelley and Faultless are here for you. Our firm has established an emergency response team to investigate truck accident cases, including a private investigator, a mechanical expert, an expert to download commercial trucks’ black box data and an accident reconstructionist.
If a truck driver’s driving error, negligence with cargo or another factor involving the operation of a large semi-truck led to the crash and caused your injuries, we can help you recover compensation for your injuries and losses.
Contact our lawyers after a large truck crash involving flying or fallen debris for a free consultation and an immediate assessment of your case.
Contact Our Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorneys Today
The truck accident attorneys of Craig, Kelley & Faultless can meet with you for a free, no-obligation discussion of your legal options and whether you have a valid accident claim. If we can pursue your case, our team will investigate to determine the parties responsible for your injuries and work aggressively to recover maximum compensation for you.
Call us now at (800) 746-0226 or contact us online.
Since 1999 the Indianapolis legal team at Craig, Kelley & Faultless, LLC have been dedicated to helping individuals and their families who have been injured or have lost a loved one as the result of someone’s carelessness. The firm was founded by three attorneys, David Craig, William ‘BJ’ Kelley II and Scott Faultless, since then they have added attorneys and legal professionals to the team and opened four additional office locations to better serve their clients.