We have all been in this situation: driving on the interstate behind a big truck and a rock comes flying at the windshield. Suddenly there is a huge star or crack in the glass that will only get worse with time. Replacing automobile glass is not cheap, and usually the first thing that comes to mind is, are trucking companies responsible for broken windshields or will my insurance have to pay?
Vehicle Damage Occurs Every Day
Windshield damage, damage to automobile paint, and even damage due to accidents caused by flying debris happens every day. Damage can occur as a result of rocks or other debris being kicked up from the road or things falling off of trucks or other vehicles. Flying debris can also result in death. Who is responsible depends upon where the debris originated.
Was it On the Road or On the Truck?
If a truck driver runs over a rock, causing it to hit your windshield, it is not the driver’s fault. If something falls off of the truck, such as a tool, loose rocks, or lumber, and damage occurs, then it is likely the fault of the driver. However, the issue is not completely cut-and-dried. A problem occurs when trying to prove what happened. It is nearly impossible to tell, even on video, if the rock that hit your vehicle came from the road or from inside the truck in front of you.
Prevention, in many cases, can eliminate the issue. When following big trucks, be sure to keep your distance. Small debris will only travel so far. If the vehicle you are following is loaded down and looks unstable or unsafe, it might be wise to switch lanes. Make sure that your car insurance carries comprehensive coverage that includes glass repairs. This coverage is not always included; you may have to ask your insurance agent to add it to your policy. Glass coverage often has a lower deductible, so getting a windshield replaced will result in low out of pocket expenditures.
Contacting the Trucking Company
There are times where it is clear where it could be possible to pursue a claim against a trucking company. However, this is not always successful. It can be difficult or impossible to obtain proof. There may be times when you can snap a photo of an overfilled truck or one with an unstable load shortly after the damage has occurred, but usually, this does not happen. It is often easier to file a claim with your insurance company than it is to try to coerce a trucking company to pay for the relatively minor damage. While the signs we see on almost every truck warning us to stay back because they are not responsible for broken windshields are not legally enforceable in most cases, it may cost you more money than it is worth to try and make the company pay. Check your auto insurance policy and make sure that you have coverage for glass, if not, contact your agent today and request that coverage is added to your policy.