Who pays when debris flies off a truck and cracks your windshield?

Diane Wilson Image
Friday, October 28, 2022
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Drivers are facing windshield repairs after debris from the truck hits their windshield and causes damage. Who has to pay up for damages?

With booming construction and our highways getting busier and busier, drivers are facing windshield repairs after debris from the truck hits their windshield and causes damage.

Victoria Jager says, "Trash was falling out of the dumpster truck and then we heard a loud bang."

A loud bang meant a cracked windshield for Jager as she was a front-seat passenger driving on U.S. 1 in Wake County with her husband.

"I knew that it came from the dump truck, and I started taking pictures of it because I thought they were never going to believe me. And then we got off the highway and assessed the damage," she adds.

Once they pulled over off of the highway, she saw the crack right in the driver's side front windshield. Jager says she filed a claim with the supervisor of the company whose name is on the truck. She adds, "He left me a voicemail saying that he couldn't prove that it was their truck."

Jager is not alone, as Troubleshooter Diane Wilson gets several similar complaints a year that a company denies responsibility for causing damage to the windshield. Attorney Mirah Yanez with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin says, "They will try to argue that maybe they just kick something up off the road, if they did kick up debris off the road they're not going to be liable for that, there's no negligence there. But if something did come from their actual truck, something that they were towing came off the truck and damaged your vehicle, you could have a claim there."

Yanez adds the signs on the back of trucks that say 'Stay back not responsible for damage' doesn't actually absolve the company from responsibility. "That doesn't excuse them. They can't be negligent and not have a claim, because they put that sticker on their truck," Yanez adds.

To best protect yourself, Yanez says dash cams help a driver's case if they have video of the object hitting their windshield or car. If you don't have a dash cam, if it's safe, get pictures or video of the truck that the debris came off along with the company name and license plate, which could be tough as North Carolina law allows dump trucks not to have a rear license plate.

The best step you can take Yanez says, "Ideally, you want a police report. So in a perfect scenario, having witnesses, having photographs, having a police report is going to give you the strongest claim."

If this happens to you, you have several options, you can try small claims court, hire an attorney to work on your behalf or also you can make a claim with your insurance company and let them go after the claim, or you can pay for the repair out of pocket.