Motor vehicle accidents caused by road debris -- who is liable?

Debris on Arizona roads poses severe hazards to all types of vehicles. Reportedly, about one million pounds of all kinds of trash is removed from valley highways by volunteers and ADOT officials every year, and authorities say road debris causes about 1,000 motor vehicle accidents annually. It is not uncommon for large objects that dropped from unsecured loads to cause devastating crashes.

Motorcycle riders are at the highest risk because they are unprotected, and being on two wheels rather than four makes them more vulnerable. A biker recently had a close encounter with road debris in the East Valley. Reportedly, he was heading to his workplace on a recent Tuesday evening when he came across two mattresses directly ahead.

Realizing that he would be ejected from the motorcycle should he strike the mattresses, he leaned to one side and slid along the asphalt. The biker experienced excruciating pain as his arm and hand were scraped along the road surface. He suffered severe road rash in the fall.

If the motorist who failed to secure the mattresses is identified, a stiff fine will likely be issued, and the injured motorcyclist might choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against him or her. As with hit-and-run motor vehicle accidents in which the negligent driver remains at large, an injured victim of an accident caused by dropped loads might still be able to recover damages. An experienced Arizona personal injury attorney could assess the circumstances and explain the options. If it is not possible to hold another party liable, the victim's insurance might cover damages. A lawyer can handle negotiations with the insurer on behalf of the victim.

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