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Special Report: Crashes caused by flying debris can be hard to take to court

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Milwaukee- It’s an all-too-common kind of crash – the ones caused by debris flying on the road.

Whether it’s a piece of wood falling from a dump truck or a trailer that comes unhitched from the vehicle pulling it, the situation is always dangerous, often deadly, and sometimes, very hard to prosecute.

Statistics from AAA show 200,000 crashes were caused by flying debris between 2011-2014. Of those, 500 deaths and 39,000 injuries were reported.

Not every one of those victims has a case in court, though, according to Jason Abraham, and attorney with Hupy and Abraham.

"You'd think you could make a claim against your own insurance policy, but you really can't unless you can find out who in fact dropped the debris,” he said. “Unless it's a structural piece of the car, like a tire.”

In cases where drivers speed away or when you don't have evidence of who is to blame, there's little that lawyers can do. They suggest writing down a license plate immediately, among other pieces of advice.

"It's really critical that you have witnesses,” Abraham said. “You can look at DOT cameras, we've been able to look at that in past cases. We've even had to put ads in newspapers to see if anyone could have seen something, who could be a witness."

Abraham has some advice for others who might be hauling the trash.

"Treat the items like you're transporting like you want them to be if you're in the car behind you - hike if your kids are in the car behind you - that's how careful you want to be with whatever you're transporting."