According to federal crash data, about 20 percent of traffic crash deaths in 2019 involved crashes with fixed objects. The most common objects that were hit were trees, traffic barriers and utility poles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Fixed-object collisions may also involve road signs, curbs, mailboxes, fences, walls, buildings or bridge piers. Sometimes another driver bears some amount of fault for the crash, and in other cases, a government entity responsible for maintaining the road may be responsible. Construction companies could also be at fault if the crash happened in a road construction zone.
No matter the cause, filing a claim for compensation could quickly become complicated. Below, learn more about fixed-object collisions, including your potential options for recovering compensation.
Schmidt Kramer offers a free legal consultation to discuss how we may be able to assist you with filing a claim. There are no upfront fees or obligations for our services.
Was Another Driver Involved in the Crash?
Some fixed-object collisions are caused by negligent drivers. For example, a driver might crash into a tree or guardrail when trying to avoid a collision with another driver who cut him or her off. Drunk drivers may veer into oncoming traffic, causing oncoming cars to swerve to get out of the way.
Commercial truck drivers, their employers or cargo-loading companies may do a poor job of securing cargo in the trailer, and it may fall onto the road. Unfortunately, drivers may be unable to avoid crashing into cargo that falls to the road.
In some cases, the victim bears some responsibility for the crash and in others, the other driver bears all responsibility. Liability needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Sometimes the driver who causes a fixed-object collision has no idea it happened. He or she may not see the other driver crash into the object or not realize his or her actions contributed to the crash. The at-fault driver may keep on going and the victim may not be able to locate him or her.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, which means crash victims first turn to their own insurance coverage for compensation. Drivers are required to carry a minimum of $5,000 in first-party benefits. This covers the policyholder’s medical expenses. If you purchased collision coverage you may also use it to pay for damage to your car.
However, if your damages exceed the limits of your insurance policy, the next option is to file a claim against the liability coverage of the at-fault driver. If you cannot locate him or her, you may be able to file a claim through your uninsured motorist coverage.
If the crash involved a commercial truck, you may have a claim against the owner of the truck, his or her employer, or the cargo-loading company.
Was the Crash Caused by Something Besides Another Driver?
In some cases, fixed-object crash victims have claims against commercial or residential property owners. Property owners are legally obligated to keep debris out of the road. If you hit debris left in your path, it may not be your fault.
Sometimes roads are unsafe because city, county or state governments did a poor job maintaining them. Bad lighting, poor road design, potholes, debris and lack of proper signage could all contribute to a fixed-object collision.
If your lawyer can prove the entity responsible for maintaining the road was negligent, you may have a case against this entity.
These cases can be very complex, which is why you should strongly consider legal representation. A Harrisburg car accident attorney from our firm can review your situation in a free legal consultation. There are no upfront fees or legal obligations for our services.
Building a Case for a Fixed-Object Collision
If the other driver stops to offer help, you may have a much easier time building a case. It may be more difficult for the other driver to deny responsibility.
However, if the driver flees the scene, it may be harder to build a case, particularly if your damages exceed the value of your insurance policy. Once this happens, you may have nowhere to seek compensation from besides the other driver’s policy. If he or she cannot be located, you may be left paying for damages out of your own pocket.
It is important to immediately call 9-1-1 so a police offer can be sent to the scene to complete a report. If possible, take pictures of the scene. If anyone stops to help, ask them if they saw the crash. They may be able to provide an eyewitness account of the crash for your claim.
Many people do not have the presence of mind to watch the fleeing driver and note the license plate number or other identifying features about the car or its driver. However, if you can, get the license plate number.
When you call 9-1-1, give them the license plate number and other identifying information to help the police locate the vehicle and its driver. It is possible the other driver is unaware of what happened, but he or she may have simply fled the scene. That is against the law, and having an officer find the driver and issue a citation may go a long way to help prove your case.
When you get a few minutes, write down what you remember about the crash. You may think you can wait to do this, but you could easily forget the next day or even a few hours after the crash.
Contact Schmidt Kramer to Discuss Your Claim
Contacting a lawyer can be one of the most important steps you take after a crash. However, you do not want just any lawyer. You need one with experience in car crash cases and a track record of recovering compensation for victims.
At Schmidt Kramer, we have been fighting for crash victims for more than three decades and have secured millions of dollars in compensation on their behalf.
Schmidt Kramer. Millions Recovered. No Upfront Fees. (717) 727-1403