Unexpected Object in the Road: Better to Swerve or Hit?

As we approach the winter months, seeing an unexpected object in the road becomes more hazardous. In the fall and winter, nightfall comes on much faster. Oftentimes, this part of the year comes with an increase in a particular oddity: unexpected hazards. 

An unexpected object in the road could be anything as small as a chunk of wood to something larger, like a Christmas tree or even a mattress. Moreover, wildlife often begins to run across roads. 

In fact, the deer-breeding season runs from October to December, meaning car accidents from wildlife peak in November. When you know what to do in this situation, though, you anticipate and prevent danger for yourself and others.

Generally speaking, we place drivers into a couple of categories: defensive drivers and aggressive drivers. When it comes to unexpected hazards, people tend to think defense is a better approach. A defensive driver tends to be more aware of their surroundings.

However, regardless of your safety efforts, there’s always the possibility of encountering an unexpected object. Still, a defensive mindset helps you prevent accidents. 

Swerving: What Are the Immediate Dangers? 

To many in the moment, it probably seems like common sense to swerve and avoid an unexpected object in the road. However, it can be quite dangerous, even deadly. Additionally, if you collide with another vehicle or a pedestrian, the insurance companies might find you at fault. 

While our instinct is to avoid objects in the road, it’s important to consider the potential outcomes. 

  • It puts your life in danger. Per a 2015 study from the Texas Department of Transportation, about 36,000 accidents resulted from a driver swerving between different lanes. 
  • You might hit another vehicle or pedestrian. As you make a last-minute movement, it puts others at risk. Moreover, it leaves other parties vulnerable because pedestrians often don’t have the chance to avoid the collision. 
  • It may result in a single-vehicle collision. It’s natural to want to follow your instinct on the road. However, swerving away from one object has the potential to cause you to lose control and crash into another object (ie, you might avoid a deer in the street but collide with a light pole). 

What Happens If I Swerve to Avoid an Unexpected Object in the Road and Hit Another Vehicle?

If something forces you to swerve at the last moment, your best bet is to follow the same protocol as any other motor vehicle collision. Once you check yourself and passengers for injuries, you have the option to file a police report. 

If another driver caused you to swerve and leaves the scene, the police have an interest in finding them. When another driver is responsible for the accident, you may have the option to file a car accident claim. This allows you to recover damages for the accident. 

In the event that someone flees the scene, try to attain as much information as possible. 

  • The make, model, and color of the vehicle 
  • Their license plate number (even a partial number helps) 
  • When and where the accident occurred 
  • The direction in which the other driver left
  • Any notes about the appearance of the driver
  • Features of the vehicle or driver that are easy to distinguish

After an auto accident, it’s not in your best interest to chase after the person who caused it. When you leave the scene of an accident, it only complicates the matter. Moreover, it becomes more difficult to determine what happened. 

Additionally, it puts you and your passengers in danger. Instead, look for witnesses and gather as much information as possible. Write down their names and contact information to provide to your attorney.

This information helps to determine liability in the accident. This also applies when an unexpected object in the road fell off a vehicle that leaves without realizing an accident occurred.  

Who Is Liable for an Unexpected Object in the Road?

If an object falls from a vehicle and hits your car, or if an object falls in the road and you swerve into another vehicle, it doesn’t necessarily mean the driver transporting the object is liable. If the driver did everything possible to secure the load safely, it’s still possible for a crash to occur. So, who is liable for damages?

In this case, you can go through your own insurance company to cover damages. Texas is an at-fault insurance state, so it gets a bit hard to navigate. If you know who left the object in the road, you can file a claim with their insurance company. However, if you don’t know, you may have to file a claim on your own policy. 

Negligence & Securing a Vehicle’s Load

Even a seemingly small mistake can result in a severe crash. If a driver transports items but fails to secure the load, it puts other drivers in danger. Whether they didn’t take the right steps because the object seemed heavy enough to stay put or didn’t know what they were doing, an object in the road can cause significant damage, especially at high speeds.

If an object falls in the road and you swerve into another vehicle, a post, a barrier, or anything else, you have rights. 

Here are a few examples of objects that fall from vehicles. 

  • Furniture, such as mattresses and spring boxes
  • Equipment, including ladders, plywood, tools, and more 
  • Applies, from washing machines and refrigerators to microwaves

When these fall off a vehicle, they create a hazard, whether it’s an unexpected object in the road or it hits a vehicle. It’s the responsibility of the driver, commercial or individual, to ensure the load is secure.

If you want to pursue a legal claim, it requires proof that the object fell from the vehicle due to the driver’s negligence. Working with an attorney is in your best interest because they handle the investigation and all communication with the insurance companies.

Safe Driving Tips

In order to effectively avoid an unexpected object in the road, it’s a good idea to practice safe driving. When you practice defensive driving, you avoid collisions and do your best to reduce the risk for everyone around you. 

Typically, we do not have control over what other drivers do. However, there are ways to avoid the dangers that others cause unknowingly. 

  • Stay in control of your vehicle
  • Be aware of other drivers
  • Stay focused

In order to avoid the dangers posed by an unexpected object in the road, your best bet is to stay aware of your surroundings. Check your mirrors often and scan the conditions ahead of you. Additionally, it’s crucial to avoid engaging with aggressive drivers. 

Lastly, stay aware of cyclists, pedestrians, and pets or wildlife in the vicinity. 

Unexpected Animals on the Road

Aside from an unexpected object in the road, it’s crucial to watch out for wildlife. The key is to practice defensive driving in the day and at night. Remain aware of your surroundings with bright headlights. 

Keep an eye out for animal crossing signs and movement along the sides of the road. This is especially important in the evening and early morning. Often, this is when most creatures are active or leave their preferred habitat. 

Additionally, keep in mind that deer are pack animals that rarely travel alone. When you see a deer, there are probably more nearby. Keep your eyes open for deer that might dart across the road. 

What to Do If You Hit an Animal

If you hit an animal, follow these steps. 

  • When it’s safe, pull over. 
  • Contact the police. This prevents the animal from becoming a hazard for others on the road. Moreover, they file a police report that helps with your claim. 
  • Check your vehicle and document any damage. 

Hit an Unexpected Object in the Road? Our Team Can Help

If you collided with an unexpected object in the road, you might be eligible for compensation. Oftentimes, car accidents are a massive headache. When you have the right advocates on your side, the process becomes much simpler. 

At our personal injury law firm, we are problem solvers and advocates for victims. With our expertise and experience on your side, you have someone to fight for you while you focus on recovery. 

Schedule a free case evaluation today to learn more about your legal options.