Who’s Liable if Highway Debris Caused Your Accident?

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Road debris is responsible for a significant number of motor vehicle accidents. AAA reports that debris contributes to about 25,000 crashes a year. In the United States, as many as 90 people suffer fatal injuries in debris-related accidents annually. Thousands more are injured.

Source: AAA Foundation, The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014.

If you’re injured in an accident caused by highway debris on roads like I-15 or US 93, you may wonder who is at fault.

Our car accident attorneys explain who is liable if highway debris causes an accident.

Who’s Liable for an Accident Caused by Highway Debris in Nevada?

Multiple parties may be at fault for an accident involving highway debris in Nevada. A driver must be able to decrease their speed and prepare to stop when they encounter a problem ahead, including debris. On the other hand, the party responsible for the debris may be negligent for how it came to be on the road.

Multiple parties may be at fault, and the Nevada comparative negligence rules may apply to apportion fault among multiple parties.

What Are the Nevada Laws for Accidents Caused by Road Debris?

Several laws may be relevant to accidents caused by road debris:

NRS § 484B.607Duties of a driver when approaching traffic incidents – A driver approaching a traffic incident must decrease their speed and be prepared to stop. A traffic incident includes any “traffic hazard” located on or near a road that poses a danger to the flow of traffic. “Debris on the roadway” is listed as a type of traffic incident.

A driver has a legal duty to adjust their driving actions to the dangers posed by the debris. They must slow down, use caution, and, if necessary, stop when they encounter debris on the road.

NRS § 484D.850Load on vehicle – Any load transported on a vehicle must be secured so that it doesn’t drop, shift, leak, or escape. Under § 484D.855, the government may create regulations for securing dangerous goods for transportation.

NRS § 41.141Modified comparative negligence – Negligence for a motor vehicle accident may be shared among multiple parties. Even if a driver should have been able to slow down and stop when they encounter debris on the road, the other party may have liability for whatever they did to cause the debris to be on the road in the first place.

Both things can be true – fault can be shared. Nevada law apportions fault between multiple parties and, along with it, legal liability for the damages from the crash.

NRS § 41.031Waiver of sovereign immunity – The government waives its sovereign immunity to

allow victims to bring civil actions on the grounds of negligence. In some circumstances, the victim may be able to pursue compensation from a government entity for the fact that a dangerous condition persisted on the road.

Determining Fault for a Highway Accident Caused by Debris

There may be multiple parties at fault for a highway accident caused by debris:

  • The driver who hits the debris: They may not have slowed down enough when they encountered the debris.
  • A party who caused the debris to be on the road: Another vehicle driver or other party who negligently allows the debris to end up on the road may be liable. They don’t have to be directly involved in the crash. They may be legally required to pay damages because they did not prevent the items from falling on the road.
  • Motor vehicle manufacturer: Vehicle parts may be strewn on the road because of faulty vehicle design or manufacturing. If that’s the case, the motor vehicle manufacturer may be liable. The victim must show how the vehicle was defective and how that caused parts to fall on the road.
  • The State of Nevada or a subdivision of government: In limited circumstances, a government entity may pay damages for an accident caused by debris on the roads. Special rules apply to claims against the government, so you must work to bring the claim quickly. It may be difficult to prove that the government has any legal liability, but it is possible to bring this type of claim.

What Types of Highway Debris Can Cause an Accident?

Some types of highway debris that may cause an accident are:

  • Fallen trees and branches
  • Objects that fall out of moving vehicles
  • Animals that are hit by other vehicles
  • Construction zone materials
  • Parts still on the road from a previous crash

Where are road debris crashes most likely to occur?

According to AAA, crashes involving road debris are four times more likely to happen on interstate highways than on other roads.

When are road debris accidents most likely to occur?

One-third of road debris accidents occur between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. This is when roads are generally busy, and people are most likely to be moving large objects.

How do road debris accidents occur?

Some ways that road debris accidents occur are:

  • A driver is not able to stop when there is debris on the road ahead
  • Because there’s debris on the road, a driver swerves and collides with another vehicle or object
  • Items fall from another vehicle from an insecure load
  • A vehicle breaks down, causing parts to fall
  • A trailer tow becomes unhitched, causing it to become separated and hit another vehicle

At the time of the crash, the party responsible for the debris may not be at the scene. Don’t assume that the accident is your fault. Our attorneys can investigate the causes of the accident and legal liability.

Attorneys for Accidents Involving Road Debris

Have you been in an accident involving road debris? Our experienced Nevada attorneys represent accident victims. We invite you to have a consultation with us at Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers. Learn where legal fault may lie and how we can help you pursue justice.

We have a wealth of experience and knowledge representing accident victims, so let us represent you! Contact us today to talk to our team.


Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.