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State refuses pay for damages from road debris

We have all seen road debris on the roads and highways across our state. As a main artery of this part of the country, things fall off vehicles and other debris is left behind after accidents. While the city does take steps to clean up our state roads, this does not mean they are always pristine. And, one may expect that if their vehicle is impacted by this debris that they can receive compensation from the state because, after all, it is the state’s responsibility to clean the streets to avoid these types of car accidents. Unfortunately, as one local has learned, this is not necessarily the case.

The debris car accident

This past summer, on LA Highway 42 in Prairieville, the local drove over road debris, which caused thousands of dollars of damage to her BMW. This was unavoidable road debris in a construction zone that destroyed the BMW’s undercarriage. She explained that the asphalt was too elevated for her to swerve to the left, and the right lane was obstructed by a large metal object. This left her with only one options, drive over the debris.

The city’s responsibility and response

Of course, the city has a duty to maintain a safe roadway, which one would assume would mean that this driver could recover for her damages, but both the construction company and state are denying responsibility. In fact, the state says responsibility falls on the construction company, and the construction company is also denying responsibility. This is because Louisiana’s standard contract provisions include sections that the state is not responsible for any damage to vehicles that result from road construction. Specifically, they require their contractor’s to indemnify the state from all liability.

The contractor, Barber Brothers, based their denial of this motor vehicle accident liability on their belief that the driver was negligent. They stated she was not driving her BMW safely when she impacted the debris, even though it was their responsibility to keep the roadway clear. They further explained that the alleged damage could not have been caused by their rubber bases because they are only about one inch in height, allowing any vehicle to easily pass over them.

Post-accident options

For Baton Rouge, Louisiana, car accident victims, their first call should be to an attorney. This is true whether it was negligence from another driver, a construction company, city employee, etc. As this case shows, even when liability seems obvious, proving liability and holding those negligent parties accountable is seldom easy.

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