Kennewick and the surrounding areas are notable for their beautiful landscapes. These views include Badger Mountain, Rattlesnake Mountain, Horse Heavens Hills, and a whole line of ridges on the southern side of the city. While rockfalls may not happen regularly, when a rock does onto a car, truck, or motorcycle; the consequences can be deadly or cause catastrophic damages.
Motorists don’t have any way of anticipating that rocks may fall from above while they’re driving. Drivers are just everyday citizens and not civil engineers. Rocks that fall from above can create havoc on the roadway, similar to the way cargo spills from trucks can create single and multi-vehicle accidents.
Falling rocks can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. If a rock strikes the windshield of the car, the odds of a deadly crash increase dramatically. In addition to losing control of the vehicle, if the rock strikes something like a motorcycle directly, the rider may have a fatal accident or may suffer a catastrophic injuries, like a traumatic brain injury.
Who may be liable for a rockfall accident?
Some rockfall accidents are predictable based on prior rockfalls, geological studies, and other evidence. The Washington Department of Transportation may be liable if they are aware of rockfalls along certain highways and routes when they fail to take proper action. Proper action can include:
- Construction projects to help ensure that the rock formations are stabilized to prevent random rockfalls on roads and highways.
- Re-routing the highways and roads away from the dangerous rockfall sites.
- Warning passengers that the roads they are traveling on may have falling rocks. Drivers who are warned may be able to take alternative routes to avoid the roads where the rocks are likely to fall.
Roadway construction companies may also be liable if a rockfall causes a car accident. Construction companies performing road repairs or landscaping need to be aware of their surroundings. This awareness includes working with the state Department of Transportation and local authorities to determine what type of work may increase the odds of the rocks falling on drivers below.
Can I file a UM/UIM claim for my rockfall car accident?
If there is no basis for filing a liability claim against the state of Washington, a governmental entity or agency, or a third party such as a construction company – accident victims may still have the right to file an uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) claim with their own insurance company. Our seasoned Kennewick and Richland personal injury lawyers can explain when you can file a UM/UIM claim, even if there are no liable defendants.
What is the value of a rockfall accident claim?
If you are injured due to a rockfall accident, the responsible defendants or the UM/UIM carrier – provided they are liable for the claim – are generally responsible for the following:
- All your current and future medical bills. These include ER expenses, the cost to see any doctors, hospital stays including surgeries, rehabilitative therapy bills, the cost of assistive devices such as wheelchairs and prosthetics, and the cost of medications.
- All your lost income and benefits. This also includes compensation if you have a permanent disability.
- All your pain and suffering. This includes the daily aches, pains, worries, and stresses involved with your injuries.
- The loss of life’s pleasures including the loss of consortium (marital pleasures).
- Any damage to your vehicle and property.
If a loved one died when a rock struck his/her car, we filed wrongful death claims on behalf of the spouse, children, parents, and anyone else who may be entitled to benefits such as a domestic partner and stepchildren. Wrongful death damages in Washington include:
- The funeral and burial expenses
- The financial support the decedent would have provided the family members
- The value of the household services your loved one would have provided
- Loss of consortium damages for a spouse or domestic partner
- The value of the love, support, care, and guidance the loved one would have provided the beneficiaries
- Additional damages that may apply if a child is tragically killed in a rockfall accident
At Telaré Law, our car, truck, and motorcycle accident lawyers investigate every type of accident claim – especially claims where someone dies or is seriously injured. We work with experts who understand why accidents happen and what steps should have been done to prevent the accident. One of the case types that we handle are vehicle accidents caused by rockfalls. We work with civil engineering experts and other professionals to show that the accident was more than an act of God – it was a preventable accident that should have been anticipated.
We file personal injury claims on behalf of victims who suffer head trauma, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and other serious injuries. We file wrongful death claims on behalf of family members when a loved one tragically dies due to a rockfall accident.
Telaré Law has law offices in Kennewick and Richland. We also represent clients and families in Pasco, Walla Walla, the Tri-Cities, and all of Southeast Washington. Victims and families should call 509.737.8500 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We handle rockfall accident claims on a contingency fee basis.