Who May Be Liable for a Crash Caused by Road Debris?

car with a mattress on its roofWhen drivers fail to properly secure the cargo on their vehicles, it could fall to the road and quickly become a serious hazard for other drivers. Imagine a bungee cord snapping and a mattress flying off a sedan’s rooftop.

More than 50,000 accidents are a result of road debris every year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Nearly 10,000 people are injured in these types of crashes.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident caused by debris on the roadway, you may be able to pursue compensation from one or more negligent parties depending on the facts of your case. Call our Sacramento car accident lawyers to discuss your claim and learn how we may be able to help you pursue the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Our initial consultation is free and there are no fees unless we win.


There are several types of road debris and various parties that may be liable for its presence on the road.


While commercial truck drivers often bear liability for road debris collisions, non-commercial drivers may also be responsible for your injuries if the cargo on their personal vehicle falls onto the roadway and causes a crash.

Drivers who own larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks or SUVs often use them to transport furniture or other large items. Owners of sedans may even try to do this, such as by tying a mattress down to the hood using bungee cords.

When cargo flies off a vehicle, the driver of that car could be liable for any accidents caused by the debris. If the driver of the vehicle stops after your crash, exchange insurance information and call the police so a report can be filed. However, if the driver of the vehicle does not stop, you may have the option to file a claim through your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.


There are some instances when debris was already on the roadway (furniture, detached trailers, garbage bins, etc.). The insurance company may argue you could have avoided a crash and blame you for the accident. They may do this to attempt to collect a deductible from your comprehensive coverage. However, there are some scenarios in which someone else may still be liable for your accident.

Our attorneys are prepared to investigate whether the city or municipality where the accident occurred was aware of the debris and failed to clear the roadway to prevent potential traffic delays or accidents.


California freeways are frequently under construction, which causes traffic delays and may lead to accidents when construction workers fail to keep equipment off open roadways.

If you are injured in an accident caused by debris from a construction site, you may be able to pursue compensation from the construction company.


The first reaction to debris on the roadway is often to swerve to avoid hitting it. However, this is a dangerous reaction as you may cause an accident and could be found at fault.

You may be able to file a claim through another driver’s liability insurance if the debris flew off another vehicle whose driver witnessed the crash and stopped. If you crashed into another vehicle when you swerved, California’s comparative negligence laws may still allow you to recover partial compensation.

But, if the other driver never stopped, and you crashed into a fixed object, such as the median, you may be able to recover compensation through your UM/UIM coverage.


There are several parties who may be held liable for your damages after an accident caused by road debris. Proving liability may take time and a thorough investigation that may require resources you do not have.

At the Arnold Law Firm, our attorneys have experience investigating all sorts of injury claims and the legal knowledge to build a case to help our clients recover the compensation they need.

We have successfully represented injury victims throughout California for more than 40 years and have a track record of recovering millions on behalf of our clients.

We do not charge you anything up front or while we work on your case and you only pay us if we win.

Call today to schedule a free consultation: (916) 777-7777