Understanding Pavement Drop-Off Accidents

Pavement drop-off accidents are more common than you think. The Federal High Administration (FHWA) states that unsafe pavement edges cause an average of 11,000 injuries and 160 deaths annually. These defective roadway conditions can affect motorists, motorcyclists, bicycle riders, and pedestrians.

In many cases, the victims of these accidents can seek compensation for their damages against a liable party. In fact, liability claims due to pavement drop-offs cost highway agencies millions each year.

For other related articles, check out Why Do Vehicle Roofs Collapse in Rollover Crashes? and The Rear Seat Occupant Alert System: A Lifesaving Technology.

What Is a Pavement Drop Off?

A pavement edge drop-off is an irregularity in a paved, top course of asphalt that creates a significantly higher drop-off. Drop-offs lie between two paved travel lanes or between a paved travel lane and shoulder due to erosion, excessive wear, or improper road maintenance and paving techniques.

The resulting height difference can cause accidents if a vehicle drifts off the roadway and the driver loses control as they attempt to return to the travel lane.

Pavement drop-offs can form in roads under these conditions:

  • Asphalt pavement overlays
  • Horizontal curves
  • Shaded areas
  • Eroded areas
  • Turnouts

Identifying Pavement Drop Off Accidents

As a vehicle exits a travel lane and passes over a drop-off, their tires may slip off the pavement and become obstructed by the pavement edge. This condition becomes more common at night, as drivers might not spot the drop-off in dark conditions.

When encountering a drop-off, the knee-jerk reaction for most drivers is to make an excessive, or insufficient, turn in an attempt to return to the travel lane. This miscalculation causes the tires to brush against the pavement edge and prevents the vehicle from adequately returning to the pavement.

The best-case scenario is if the driver can quickly adjust and make the correct maneuver, but this isn’t always the case. Some may lose control over their vehicle, causing a collision that results in injury and damages.

Pavement Drop Off Accident Claims

If defective roadways conditions like a pavement drop off played a significant contributing factor in an accident, victims might file a tort liability lawsuit against the local or state agencies and the construction contractors involved. These liable parties may have failed to build a safe transition to the shoulder, create a visible pavement edge marking, or leave signage warning drivers of a hazardous drop-off.

With the help of an experienced attorney, victims may seek monetary compensation for various types of damages, including:

  • Present and future medical care and rehabilitation costs
  • Pain and suffering from suffered injuries
  • Loss of future income and lost wages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages

Most legal claims in Missouri have a five-year deadline. However, personal injury claims against a governmental agency have a reduced time limit of 90 days. An accident site’s conditions can also quickly change in a matter of days, resulting in a loss of critical evidence, and eye testimony accounts begin to lose their credibility as more time passes.

We recommend every victim of pavement drop off accidents act as quickly as possible and seek legal assistance.

Getting Help from an Experienced Legal Team

If you or a loved one sustained injuries or damages from a roadway departure accident, defective pavement or other road defect could be the potential cause, a professional attorney can help by:

  1.  Investigating the accident site with qualified experts to find every probable cause.
  2. Assessing the roadway conditions and their compliance with federal guidelines.
  3. Collecting evidence and documenting testimonies from every witness.
  4. Obtaining relevant documentation from police investigations and state department maintenance records.

Ensure you take the right measures to identify and establish the main cause of the accident and the liable party involved by hiring an experienced legal team.

At Larson & Miller Injury Law, our lawyers can assess your case and provide professional support throughout the process. We have a combined 100 years of experience helping clients get compensation for various accidents and injuries. Call us at 417-890-6677 to get started today.