We've all seen the dump trucks rolling down the road, each of them with 'Keep Back 200 Feet--Not Responsible for Windshields' plastered across the back gate. When they kick up rocks with their tires, our paint jobs and windshields suffer heavily. It's a risk we pay--but we might not always have to pay for that damage ourselves.
Drivers are, of course, responsible for damages that occur when a vehicle kicks up a rock from the road. Roads are never free from hazards and it's one of the reasons we have insurance. But what if a dump truck put that rock there?
Don't automatically assume that the trucking company bears no responsibility for damage to your vehicle just because it says so on the back of the truck. Truckers and their companies ARE responsible for rocks and debris falling from their trucks, but not necessarily for objects thrown from the road. Companies are responsible to ensure that their tire flaps are sufficient to prevent rocks from flying up from the road. Many companies, however, skimp on this maintenance item with the result that their trucks often have degraded or missing flaps.
If a truck is moving down the road and there is gravel or other objects falling from the bed, the driver and company are responsible for your damage. If a truck drops debris on the road and that debris later damages your vehicle, the driver and company are also responsible--albeit the issue can be very difficult to prove if the truck is long gone.
If a truck is dropping gravel or other debris and an object strikes your vehicle, don't hesitate to file an accident report with your local law enforcement agency. Make sure you get the complete license plate number from the truck (if you can safely do so), including the state.
Keep in mind: there are license plates on both the trailer and the cab for semi-trucks. On dump trucks, the license plate is on the front of the vehicle. DOT numbers on the side of the truck can also help to identify it.
Report dump trucks or other vehicles that are dropping debris on the road to the North Carolina Highway Patrol as soon as possible by dialing *HP (*47) on your cell phone. Be sure to provide as much information as you can, including a description of the truck, road name, travel direction and license plate number.