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Who is liable for a cracked windshield?

Probably every one of us has had occasion to replace a windshield. Rocks, gravel, and other types of road debris can break windshields, damage vehicles, and injure people.  Even worse, though, is that large items being hauled in the backs of trucks or on trailers, when not properly secured, can result in significant automobile accidents and serious injury.

Between 2011-2014, road debris was a factor in a total of over 200,000 police-reported crashes, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. Road debris can be extremely dangerous, especially on highways and interstates where vehicles travel at high speeds and have less time to react to objects in the roadway. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident involving road debris or items falling off of trailers or trucks, you should speak with an experienced auto accident lawyer Memphis, TN to discuss your legal options.

So, who is responsible for damage to a windshield, vehicle, or person that is caused by road debris?

  •       When another vehicle kicks up debris, the driver is not at fault – for example, if the car or 18-wheeler in front of you drives over a rock and it flies up and hits your windshield, the driver is not responsible for the damage.
  •       When another vehicle drops debris (gravel, trash, tools etc.) that it is hauling, the other driver is at fault – for example, if a yard service truck drops a rake off its truck which damages your car, then it is responsible for the damage.

Here are some ways you can decrease the likelihood that your vehicle is damaged by road debris or falling debris:

  •       Don’t tailgate! Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
  •       Stay away from vehicles, trucks, or trailers that appear to have unsafe loads.
  •       If you can’t safely avoid road debris, safely reduce your speed to reduce impact.
  •       If your vehicle is damaged by road debris, do not try to chase down the responsible vehicle

to get a license plate number or company name. Not only is chasing after a vehicle dangerous, it’s difficult to prove the vehicle caused the damage and it is difficult to get an insurance company to pay for the damage.

As you can see, other drivers aren’t always liable for damage to your vehicle, and it ca be unsafe to obtain the information necessary to present a claim. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have the proper insurance in place for your own vehicle in the event your windshield or vehicle is damaged.

Thanks to our friends and contributors at Patterson Bray who have significant experience in auto accident cases.