Who Is Responsible for Auto Accidents Caused By Road Debris?

Drivers might be the most dangerous thing on the road, but driver error is not the only cause of car accidents in Kansas City. Some vehicle collisions are caused by roadway conditions, such as debris left in the road. This type of accident can make the claims process difficult for an injured motor vehicle driver. If you get injured or your property is damaged in an auto accident caused by road debris, find out who may be responsible.

What Are the Dangers of Debris on Roadways?


Road debris can refer to any item, object or material that should not be in the roadway. Common examples include storm debris, tree limbs, grass clippings, hubcaps, car parts, forgotten construction materials and items that have fallen from cars. Road debris can appear unexpectedly, causing a driver to strike the item or swerve to avoid it. This can lead to serious car accidents. Some of the dangers associated with road debris are:

  • Swerving into oncoming traffic or another lane to avoid the debris.
  • Striking the object and popping a tire or otherwise damaging the vehicle.
  • Slamming on the brakes and making another driver crash into the back of the car.
  • Debris being kicked up into traffic after coming into contact with a vehicle.
  • The debris flying up and cracking the windshield.
  • Causing a motorcyclist to crash or lay down the motorcycle.

It is not always possible to react safely to road debris. Some debris is not visible until the driver is directly on top of it – especially in bad weather – or the debris may be dropped there by another driver right before the crash. A driver may be unable to safely avoid road debris or come to a complete stop before contact. This can lead to single- or multi-vehicle collisions and related injuries and deaths.

Who Is Liable for a Road Debris Accident in Missouri?


Many road debris accidents are single-vehicle collisions. This means that victims with injuries or property damage will seek financial compensation from their own car insurance companies, in most cases. However, if there is proof that someone else is responsible for the debris being in the road, the person or party at fault may be financially accountable. The liable party in your road debris accident could be:

  • A driver for littering. If you or someone else witnessed a driver toss debris from their window or fail to pull over after an item fell out of a truck, that driver may be liable for a related car accident. Speak to eyewitnesses in the area to find out if they saw anything. Then, visit nearby businesses to find out if they have security or traffic cameras that might have caught the person who improperly disposed of the debris.
  • A truck company for a lost load. If the debris fell from a commercial truck, the trucking company or cargo company could be held liable. Commercial trucking companies must follow strict rules for the proper securement of their cargo. Again, finding this information out may require speaking to witnesses and searching for available camera footage.
  • A state or municipal branch of government for a poorly maintained road. If the debris was in the road for some time before the crash, such as a fallen limb from a storm that took place weeks before or construction equipment left behind from an old job, the government agency in charge of roadway maintenance could be responsible. It is the government’s job to promptly respond to complaints or reports regarding unsafe road conditions.

The best way to find out who is responsible for your auto accident in Kansas City is by consulting with an attorney. A personal injury attorney can carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding your crash, search for the at-fault party and help you search for evidence of liability. An attorney can also help you negotiate with your own auto insurance company for fair financial compensation if you are unable to locate the at-fault party. Contact a lawyer in Missouri for more information if you’ve recently been injured in a road debris crash.