Not Responsible for Windshields is a Common Tactic for Truckers to Avoid Insurance Claims
Just because there is a warning on the back of a truck advising that the trucker isn't responsible for damages doesn't mean it's true
You've seen the signs on the back of nearly every dump truck moving down the highway that the trucking company is not responsible for broken windshields. It's a scare tactic the companies often use to frighten you into not filing an insurance claim against them for your broken windshield. But in North Carolina, you can file a claim for damages caused when something falls from one of these trucks.
We Have auto insurance to protect us from the hazards of the road.
We all know that auto insurance is there to protect us in the event something or someone damages our vehicles. It's the same for rocks that fly up from the road and damage our paint and crack our windshields. We pay for the insurance so we don't have to pay as much when a dump truck causes us to suffer a loss. But we might not have to pay for any of the damages.
The signs on dump trucks don't let the company off the hook.
There's a reason those signs are on the back of dump trucks. Most people think that if the trucking companies put signs on the back of their trucks saying they aren't responsible for windshields that they must not be responsible for windshields. But that's not necessarily true. Quite often, these trucks aren't being operated correctly. The rear gate might not be closed completely. The load may not be covered. Equipment being towed might still have dirt and rocks on it that haven't been cleaned off. If your vehicle is damaged due to the operator's negligence, they're on the hook for your damages. But the company hopes you won't file a claim against them for damage that both was and wasn't their fault.
North Carolina's law regarding secured loads
North Carolina law (G.S. 20-116) requires that all vehicles should be constructed and loaded to prevent its load from leaving the vehicle. It also requires that large trucks, including dump trucks, loaded with rocks, stone and the like, should be securely covered to prevent spillage. Some states have laws requiring certain size flaps to be installed behind the tires to prevent damage to our vehicles, but North Carolina isn't one of them. So that means that if a truck's tire kicks up a rock from the road, you foot the bill.
increasing your following distance can help prevent any insurance headaches
The 200 feet on the back of one of these trucks is a lot further than you think. Considering that the average large family sedan is about 15 feet, you would need to be more than 13 car lengths behind the truck. Sometimes that's easier said than done. Most of us follow too closely, even if we're not behind these dump trucks. But increasing your distance behind one of these trucks can help prevent your car from becoming damaged if the truck kicks up a rock from the road or is dropping debris.
filing a claim when a truck is losing its load
If the truck is dropping debris and damages your vehicle, the operator and owner of the truck are responsible for your damages. But it can be a bit difficult to file a claim is the truck is long gone by the time you suffer damages. The truck might drop stones before going through an intersection, leaving you at a red light. A truck may have dropped a large amount of gravel hours earlier on the highway that gets kicked up by other cars. If you have a legitimate claim, file a report with the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where you suffered the damages. Get the complete license plate number and plate state from the truck. Keep in mind that there are license plates on both the trailer and the cab for semi-trucks. On dump trucks, the license plate is typically on the front of the vehicle. DOT numbers on the side of the truck can also help to identify the company responsible. Don't try to make the driver stop. If you can't get this information,
report a truck that is losing its load
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.