Who is responsible for car damage from road debris?

If you’ve driven on a road cluttered with debris, you might be wondering who is responsible for car damage from road debris.

Who’s responsible depends on whether or not the driver had adequate warning of the debris. Was the driver aware of the road debris and still ran over it? Or, were there no signs warning drivers about road debris?

In this case, state laws will determine who would be liable. Some states put the responsibility on both parties: the driver and governmental agency in charge of upkeep. But other states place all responsibility solely on governmental agencies.

Regardless, one thing to remember with either scenario is that once you drive over road debris, you’ll need to involve a car accident lawyer.

Whether you are filing against a company that owns a road or a government agency, the burden of proof will be on you. It is very easy for insurance companies to bully drivers like yourself into accepting far less than you’re owed.

Work with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today to ensure you get the money you deserve. Call us for a free consultation.


What is road debris?

Road debris can be anything from a road sign or tree branches to blown-out remnants of a tire. Road debris is usually the responsibility of the road owner or operator, but you may be partially responsible.

In most states, road owners or government agencies are liable for debris that causes injury or property damage. In other words, they’re responsible for any damage caused by their road signs or potholes unless they’ve taken precautions to prevent this type of accident from happening.

Of course, there’s always room for exceptions, such as if state law says otherwise, that takes precedence over everything else.

For example, in some states, road operators are liable when gravel comes off their trucks and injures drivers or causes car damage.

In Florida, the road operator is liable for road debris that causes injury or property damage. The road operator must also take affirmative measures to prevent road debris by installing signs and fences.

Road debris includes:

  • Road signs
  • Materials such as gravel and sand
  • Car tires
  • Debris from other vehicles
  • Trees and branches 
  • Garbage


Avoidable Road Debris

Classifying road debris as “avoidable” is the number one way that insurance companies try to deny claims for road debris-based injuries.

Avoidable road debris refers to anything that you could easily see and move to avoid on the road. This includes furniture, potholes, trailers, and even puddles.

However, as many drivers know, these are not always truly avoidable. In some cases, they may span the entirety of the road or may be immediately after an intersection or other sharp turn.


Who is responsible for car damage from road debris?

Again, in Florida, the road operator must take affirmative measures to prevent road debris from ending up on the road by installing road signs and fences. 

However, the owner of the road debris could also be at fault.

Truck drivers who do not properly secure their cargo and have it end up on the road, causing an accident, could be held liable for the damage. Similarly, a driver who throws a plastic bag out of their window and obstructs your view through the windshield could be liable for their actions.

Sometimes, construction crews who have left debris behind can be to blame. 

To determine who is responsible for car damage from road debris conclusively, you will need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What type of road debris caused the damage?
  2. Where did the debris come from?
  3. Was there signage about the debris?
  4. Who owns the road?
  5. Was the debris avoidable?


Steps to Finding Who Is Responsible for Car Damage

First, contact a lawyer so they can take steps before reporting the incident to insurance companies.

If there are witnesses available at the time of the incident, ask them if they will give written statements about what happened. This information may help determine responsibility for damages.

Your lawyer may then call officials from relevant government agencies (e.g., transportation department) to look into any negligence on behalf of road maintenance contractors.


Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you have suffered property damage due to road debris, Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath can help.

Our experienced team of associates knows that good drivers shouldn’t be penalized for unexpected road hazards. That’s why we want to help you get the damages you’re owed by the responsible party.

Contact our team of car accident attorneys today to ensure you aren’t stuck paying the bill for an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

Help us work to keep Florida’s roads clear and safe for drivers by filing the necessary claim.

Locations We Serve: