Fact Finders: Are trucks not liable for broken or cracked windshields?
A dump truck is dropping gravel and has a sign saying not liable for damage. Is that the case?
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Most of us have had the experience on the road of a rock flying into the windshield and leaving a nasty crack.
One of our viewers wants to know; A dump truck is dropping gravel and has a sign saying not liable for damage caused by any castoff rocks. Is that the case?
Federal and state laws both address this type of situation. In one section it says, “the driver must Inspect the cargo and the devices used to secure the cargo within the first 50 miles after starting a trip.” Also, the driver must ensure that cargo cannot shift or fall from the motor vehicle. Another section addresses the gravel situation saying the vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer shall have a protective cover so that no material can become dislodged and fall.
So, the load must be secured and must have a cover.
Springfield attorneys tell KY3 that any sign on a truck may try to discourage you from following too closely. But it doesn’t absolve responsibility for cracked windshields.
“It is their duty to ensure that nothing is going to fall from the semi-trailer, explained Attorney Grant Rahmeyer of RAH Law. “They’re responsible for damages if that happens. The other side of that is of course if you see gravel spitting from a truck, do you just go drive up behind it and hope to get a new windshield? No, I’d say that’s a really bad idea. Because it can be very, very dangerous.”
“As far as the sign saying not liable. That is, you know, I think that’s something that honestly, the Attorney General of Missouri, might want to look at, to see if they can get injunctive relief from a court to say, look, you guys need to stop posting this, it is absolutely contra to what the law in Missouri is,” stated Joe Easter of Easter Law Firm.
We didn’t spot a truck this week displaying a sign like this one saying, “Not Liable.” But Attorney Joe Easter is saying, if you see this type of sign, report it to the state.
Meantime, if a rock does damage your windshield, you should take a picture of your car and take a picture of the damage right away. If it can be done safely, ask a passenger to take a picture of the truck that dropped the rock. If you get to a stoplight, ask the driver of the truck to pull over to exchange insurance information.
Circling back to the question, A dump truck is dropping gravel and has a sign saying not liable for damage caused by any castoff rocks. Is that the case?
Based on our discussions with two local attorneys and a review of Missouri law, we’re saying No. It’s not the case. The owner of a truck that drops rock and causes damage to your car windshield is still liable for the damage.
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