Road defects such as debris, potholes and large cracks can come as a surprise to Rhode Island drivers.
Crashes involving road defects and debris often occur on high-speed roadways, interstates and on curvy rural roads. Some drivers may have enough time to avoid a crash, but others aren't so lucky.
What causes roadway defects?
Roadway defects are often the result of:
- Unsecured cargo loads: Any cargo that is not properly secured in a car, pickup truck or large commercial truck could fly off or spill out onto the road. This can put car occupants at risk of being struck by debris. Swerve risks can also result in lane departure crashes or head-on collisions.
- Poor vehicle maintenance: Poor vehicle maintenance can result in detached vehicle parts. This is common with wheels. In some cases, detached wheels have caused major crashes or have struck pedestrians, bicyclists, and building occupants.
- Construction zones: When construction zones are poorly managed and maintained, construction materials and debris can cause problems for drivers. Road repairs can also leave road surfaces temporarily unsafe.
- Poor road maintenance: Potholes, uneven surfaces, and large cracks in the road can put motorists in danger. It's the responsibility of local and state governmental agencies to make sure these defects are fixed.
Who is responsible for crashes involving road defects?
Crashes involving road defects are more difficult to navigate than most other crash types. Sometimes determining who's responsible can be like a needle in a haystack, especially when the cause of debris can't be identified. Without dash cam footage, surveillance video footage, or witnesses, you may not be able to track down the responsible party.
If the cause of a road defect can be identified, you may be able to pursue a claim against the responsible party.
This may include:
- Another driver: A motorist or truck driver who fails to properly secure cargo can be held accountable for any injuries that are caused by road debris. The same goes for drivers who cause crashes by swerving, not paying attention, or driving too fast.
- A construction company: A construction company that fails to secure materials and clean up debris can be held accountable.
- Municipal or state agency: Local and state governmental agencies are responsible for ensuring that potholes and other road defects are fixed. Pursuing a claim against a governmental agency can be very difficult, however. The statute of limitations in Rhode Island is three years and you would have to notify the state's Attorney General in writing.
What to do after a car accident
If you were involved in a crash involving road debris or a road defect, the best thing to do is:
- Take pictures of the debris or defect and note the exact location.
- Check on other parties involved in the crash and call 911 if anyone has sustained a serious injury.
- Wait for the police to arrive, so an investigation can be conducted.
- Get medical attention, even if you don't feel injured.
- Consult with an experienced Rhode Island car accident attorney.
Contact the Law Office of Mark B. Morse, LLC to explore your legal options. You can also call our Providence office at (401) 831-0555.