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Question regarding debris
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 5:14 pm 
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Quick question about debris (broken taillights ect) from an accident and responsibility.

If someone hit something that broke off (not cargo), but 30 minutes after the original accident and other cars managed to avoid everything. The debris was avoidable who is responsible for damage to that car.


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Re: Question regarding debris
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:59 am 
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Lets say a tire just came flying off a truck and hit your car, then the truck is responsible. But if the tire is stationary, then it's your fault; it's the equivalent of hitting traffic pylons, stopped construction/police vehicles.

It's your responsibility to avoid stationary hazards.


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Re: Question regarding debris
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:54 pm 
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Actually, it all depends on a concept called 'foreseeability'. If you knew or ought to have known that the debris was on the road and could negatively affect another person, then you can be held liable. That makes sense from a pubic policy perspective. Otherwise, people would be free to create a safety hazzard for others without any consequences to themselves.

In your scenario, since it was an 'accident' that caused the debris on the road, the persons involved in the accident (and the one's responsible for the clean up) would likely be liable. You can look up the concept of 'contributory negligence' and 'causation' and you'll see that under tort law cases. Liability attaches to those parties that cause the harm to the other where they have a duty to those persons. Certainly the driver who runs over the debris will also be held partially liable for any damages (i.e. for failing to avoid it, look out for it, etc.). But, the one causing the debris to be left on the road will not escape liability since 'but for' their action (or omission) the harm would not have resulted to the other party.

Now, if the debris is deposited there unbeknownst to the first party (e.g. a part flies off your car and you don't even notice), they could still be held partially liable, but the extent, if any of their, contributory liability will be much less.

After all, there is also the concept of 'strict liability' in tort law where if something escapes from your property and causes damage to another, you are responsible. For instance, the case of a stone flying off your tire and shattering another vehicle's window. You likely couldn't avoid the situation at all, but the stone did come off 'your' property and so you should be held liable.

Bottom line: always consider the 'neighbour principle'.


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Re: Question regarding debris
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:47 pm 
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highwaystar wrote:
Actually, it all depends on a concept called 'foreseeability'. If you knew or ought to have known that the debris was on the road and could negatively affect another person, then you can be held liable. That makes sense from a pubic policy perspective. Otherwise, people would be free to create a safety hazzard for others without any consequences to themselves.

In your scenario, since it was an 'accident' that caused the debris on the road, the persons involved in the accident (and the one's responsible for the clean up) would likely be liable. You can look up the concept of 'contributory negligence' and 'causation' and you'll see that under tort law cases. Liability attaches to those parties that cause the harm to the other where they have a duty to those persons. Certainly the driver who runs over the debris will also be held partially liable for any damages (i.e. for failing to avoid it, look out for it, etc.). But, the one causing the debris to be left on the road will not escape liability since 'but for' their action (or omission) the harm would not have resulted to the other party.

Now, if the debris is deposited there unbeknownst to the first party (e.g. a part flies off your car and you don't even notice), they could still be held partially liable, but the extent, if any of their, contributory liability will be much less.

After all, there is also the concept of 'strict liability' in tort law where if something escapes from your property and causes damage to another, you are responsible. For instance, the case of a stone flying off your tire and shattering another vehicle's window. You likely couldn't avoid the situation at all, but the stone did come off 'your' property and so you should be held liable.

Bottom line: always consider the 'neighbour principle'.



In that case would they notify me at the scene? I slipped on some ice, at least 3 did after me, my concern is a large truck got into an accident about 30 minutes after and I'm not sure if any debris from my car was involved. His accident occurred 30 minutes after mine and before mine on the road about 70-100 ft. I only had plastic parts of my car come off (tail lights and maybe a 10th) and i'm not sure they would have been on the road. My tow guy saw the accident and said he blew a tire. I wasn't asked to stay at the scene by any of the officers. Should I be worried?


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Re: Question regarding debris
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:43 pm 
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Keep in mind that I answered your question from a theoretical perspective. Its always a whole different ballgame as to what should be done in practice. First off, you truly don't know if the other person's accident was as a direct result of anything you did or didn't do. Secondly, even so, the other person would have a very difficult time proving that in fact the cause of his accident was due to your debris, as oppose to several other factors (e.g. impaired function, malfunctioning vehicle, weather, acts of god, etc.). Again, there's whats theoretical and what's practical!

Unless there was substantial damage (e.g. a huge commercial truck leaves an oil slick causing a multi-vehicle pile up with deaths), its quite unlikely that anyone would track down a third party and attempt to claim recovery from them unless there was very persuasive evidence! Beyond having the hurdle of finding the third party in the first case, they'd still be left with a legal mountain to climb in proving direct causation. Bottom line: I wouldn't lose much sleep over this. Draw your mind to it only if anything ever arises.


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Re: Question regarding debris
PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:59 pm 
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Thanks, is there anyway i can tell if someone is making a claim against me? It's been nearly 2 weeks now and I haven't heard or seen anything. Would I find out from my insurance? Or am i past the likely time of notice already since it was a commercial truck?


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Re: Question regarding debris
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:40 am 
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You could get a surprise "State of Claim" from a third-party up to two years after the date of loss.


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Re: Question regarding debris
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:37 am 
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iFly55 wrote:
You could get a surprise "State of Claim" from a third-party up to two years after the date of loss.


that makes sense for a normal person to file one well after, but wouldn't a commercial truck do that type of thing right away?


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