Am I subject to any criminal penalties if I ran over a carpet that was in the road but didn’t stop??

UPDATED: Jun 11, 2014

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Am I subject to any criminal penalties if I ran over a carpet that was in the road but didn’t stop??

I was driving home from work and saw a large flat object in the road up ahead. I thought it was a piece of cardboard or some other trash, so I didn’t make a huge effort to avoid it completely. When I ran over the edge of it, I realized it was some carpet that someone had put in the middle of the street. After I got home, I noticed someone drive past my house and take a picture of my car. I don’t remember exactly which house it was but I would be willing to pay for cleaning the carpet if necessary. But my question is,

Asked on June 11, 2014 under Criminal Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no criminal liability for running over road debris or property left in the road and not stopping. It is possible you could be sued for the damage to the carpet, but it's not clear that you'd have to pay: from what you write, you did not necessarily drive negligently or carelessly--you saw what could have been cardboard and reacted appropriately--whereas the person who left a carpet in the road would almost certainly have been negligent in so doing. His or her own fault would reduce, if not eliminate, what you would likely have to pay, even if it had been the case that you were negligent, too--and if you were not at fault, you would not have to pay anything anyway, since liability (the legal obligation to pay compensatation) is derived from fault, or being in the wrong.

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