Douglas Dedrick is the founder and lead researcher of HealingLaw.com, an organization dedicated to making law accessible for all. He has over a decade of experience as a landscaper, gardener, and lawn care professional. He has been building his writing career on many topics surrounding law, health, and nature. Douglas enjoys spending his time studying controversial topics and writing captivati...

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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 and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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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 road debris 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.

Part of the challenge is finding out who is responsible. Even when you do, proving it may be another hurdle. Let’s jump straight into the first scenario!

What if a truck litters the highway with debris road hazards?

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. Whether it’s construction debris, limbs from a downed tree, or trash being transported, these objects can pose risks to unsuspecting motorcyclists. Sometimes, large trucks even lose parts while driving, and they don’t necessarily realize it until they stop somewhere down the road.

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 in question, 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 road debris 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. If you don’t have a way to identify the truck responsible, you might not have any recourse. Then it would come down to your comprehensive coverage. What kind of insurance coverage did you pay for?

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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What if the debris is left by an 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. Of course, as with the previous scenario, a truck’s uncovered litter or unsecured parts 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. If you believe it was due to neglect or carelessness, you can file a police report. As many car drivers find out when trying to claim damages with construction companies.

motorcycle riding down the open highway

What if a 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. If not, it would be paid under your comprehensive coverage. Depending on the exact nature, uninsured motorist coverage may come into play. The biggest problem many run into is proving the source.

What if a homeowner leaves debris on the road?

This one is quick, but the insurance is very specific, and it’s worth mentioning. This is assuming the homeowner is known and can be identified. 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.