If I crash my motorcycle on debris left in the road, who pays?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore...

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Reviewed byJeffrey Johnson
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UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020

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It’s no secret that insurance can get a bit complicated. Perhaps one of the most complicated areas of insurance is determining who is responsible for paying for damages when accidents occur. A lot of times the answer is cut and dry, but other times it isn’t so simple.

One of the areas where insurance can get a little complicated is when a wreck is caused by debris on the road, more specifically when a motorcycle wrecks on debris in the road.

No matter how vigilant or careful you ride, some accidents are unavoidable. Even with all of the modern motorcycle safety features, accidents still occur. So if you hit debris in the road and wreck your motorcycle, who pays? Let’s take a look at four scenarios and see what type of insurance coverage will likely be footing the bill.

Let’s jump straight into the first scenario!

#1 – Truck Litters Roadway with Debris

With all of the trash being hauled up and down the roads each day, it’s no surprise that sometimes it falls into the road from time to time. Whether it’s construction debris, limbs from a downed tree, or trash being transported, these objects can pose risks to unsuspecting motorcyclists.

The Scenario– Here’s the scenario. You are riding your motorcycle behind a truck hauling debris that isn’t properly covered. While you are behind the truck, some debris falls out of the truck and causes you to wreck your motorcycle.

Who Pays? According to Personal Injury Law, if the debris was not secured properly, the damage would be covered under the truck driver’s auto insurance policy. Alternatively, if it was a work or construction vehicle, their business auto insurance may cover the incident.

In either scenario, whether the offending driver is distracted, or simply doesn’t notice what happened behind them, it is unlikely they will stop. So you will want to collect any information you can immediately, which may be difficult if there are no witnesses.

But what if you don’t know where the debris came from? Then you will have to check out scenario two.

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#2 – Debris Left By Unknown Source

Debris on the roadway can be caused by a lot of things. Trees drop their leaves in the fall. Branches break in a storm and fall into the road. And of course, as with the previous scenario, a truck’s uncovered litter can fly out. The list truly goes on and on. Of course, leaving debris such as grass on the road is illegal, but unfortunately, that doesn’t stop it from happening.

The Scenario – You are riding down the road on your motorcycle. As you round a turn, you strike debris in the road, causing you to lose traction and wreck. Unlike the first scenario, you don’t know who left the debris, or whether it was a natural occurrence. Either way, there is no responsible party to be found.

Who Pays? If you strike debris on the roadway, and can’t determine the source or the source is natural, you will have to turn to your own auto insurance.

motorcycle riding down the open highway

#3 – Company Leaves Debris on the Road

In the previous two scenarios, we looked at incidents where a vehicle left debris on the road. What if a company deposits debris into the road, but this time it’s not dropped from a vehicle? What type of insurance will foot the bill then? Let’s take a look.

The Scenario – This scenario can occur in several ways. Perhaps it’s lawn clippings blown into the road by a landscaping company. Or maybe a construction company puts trash on the road or curb for pick up. Either way, the debris causes you to wreck your motorcycle.

Who Pays? In this scenario, if negligence is proven, a claim would go against the company’s liability.

#4 – Homeowner Leaves Debris on the Road

This one is quick, but the insurance is very specific, and it’s worth mentioning. Let’s look at a slight variation of scenario three.

The Scenario – In this scenario, debris is left on the road again as in scenario three. However, this time the debris is left in the road by the resident of the home itself.

Who Pays? In this instance, it could be the resident’s renter’s or homeowner’s insurance covering the cost.

Fall season. Large trees over the road. Road covered with orange and yellow leaves.

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What’s the bottom line?

Even the most avid motorcycle collectors can be easily overwhelmed by all of the nuances posed by insurance coverage. Hopefully, these four scenarios will simplify the situation a bit.

It should be noted that anytime you wreck your bike on debris in the road you can turn to your own insurance for coverage. Additionally, negligence will also have to be proven to determine the fault of an offending party. But that is a different article entirely!

However, you should always try avoiding an insurance claim and potentially raising your rates. It only makes sense to do so. If you have any more questions about a motorcycle or car insurance, be sure to search for other topics on this website.

Author Bio: Douglas Dedrick is a landscaper with over a decade of experience and a writer on several topics including lawn care, landscaping, and law. Connect with him or read more at Healing Law.

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