It happens more often than people think. A driver is on a road or highway and their vehicle is suddenly struck by dangerous flying debris. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths from those incidents during that time. Between 2011 and 2014, flying debris was blames for more than 200,000 crashes. And the lingering question is, if my car is damaged or I am injured due to flying debris, who pays for the damages?
Regarding property damage, the very best way to protect yourself is to purchase insurance for your vehicle that would cover this type of loss. Typically, this would be covered under your own collision coverage. But if you did not purchase collision coverage, you may have some coverage under the comprehensive coverage (that is typically included automatically) for damage to glass or if the flying debris was due to vandalism or something of that nature. In other cases, you would need to identify the person at fault and make a claim with their carrier; more on that below.
Injuries due to accidents from flying debris are a completely different story. Certainly, if the driver of the vehicle that caused the flying debris is identified – for example, a truck where cargo fell off the back – then the owner/operator of that vehicle may be liable for your damages. But what if that person is never identified? Very often, especially with trucks on the highway, debris flies off the vehicle and the driver doesn’t even realize it and keeps driving. If you are injured by that flying and the driver is nowhere to be found, then you would have no one to make a claim against other than your own Uninsured Motorist coverage. That is because Uninsured Motorist coverage pays for damages due to the negligence of a person who fled the scene and was never identified. However, the insurance company will not automatically pay for your damages. The way UM coverage works, the carrier essentially “steps into the shoes” of the driver who fled. That means that you would still need to prove that the driver that fled was negligent and the cause of the flying debris. This is not an easy task if there is just some random debris within the roadway and an accident results. For that reason, it is essential that people injured due to flying debris retain competent counsel who can fully investigate the facts while they are still fresh.