Warning Signs on Trucks: Are They Legit?
If you’ve been in Metro Atlanta traffic recently, you’ve probably seen a warning sign on the back of a truck that reads “Warning! Stay Back 100 Feet” or “Stay Back! Not Responsible For Broken Windshields.” These signs are pretty common on commercial trucks and tractor-trailers. But is it true? Do these signs protect the trucking companies from liability if something falls from their vehicle and hits your car? The short answer is “no.” Let’s explain why.
State and Federal Regulations
Truckers and trucking companies are heavily regulated by both state and federal laws. They have a duty to secure their loads when traveling. It doesn’t matter what the truck is hauling; the company must secure the items so that the contents don’t come flying off the truck and damage the vehicles around them. Drivers are also required to wash off their vehicles, to prevent loose dirt or debris from hitting nearby vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians.
On the one hand, the trucking company is tasked with keeping surrounding drivers safe. They do this by keeping the vehicles clean, securing the items on the truck, and warning other drivers to stay back from the vehicle. But putting a sticker on their truck doesn’t mean the driver or trucking company isn’t responsible if an accident happens.
Liability for Damages
Just because a truck has a “Warning! Stay Back!” sign, it doesn’t mean that the company won’t be responsible if an item flies off the truck and hits your vehicle. Warning signs do not let the trucking companies off the hook.
According to Burrow & Associates’ personal injury attorney Joshua Samuels, “A sign that says a truck is not responsible is just an attempt to make drivers believe that the truck is not liable for damages. Large trucks have a duty to secure their loads in a manner that prevents their contents from spilling onto the roadway. Their duty to secure the contents of their truck is not diminished by the sign. These signs are legally meaningless.”
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If your vehicle was damaged because of debris from a nearby truck, you can try filing a claim with your insurer. Some insurance companies will cover this type of damage, because cracked windshields are a common enough occurrence. But, if your insurance company doesn’t cover the damage, you may want to file a suit against the trucking company itself.
One of the biggest challenges of filing a claim against the trucker is identifying the company responsible. You’ll need to identify the truck or the driver. If your vehicle is damaged, try to get as much information about the scene as possible: where it happened, when it happened, a description of the truck and driver, the license plate number, and the DOT number. You should also take videos or photos of the scene and the damage to your vehicle.
If you file a personal injury claim, the trucker may argue that you ignored warning signs or followed too closely. “There is an assumption of risk argument that they would make in the case,” says attorney Samuels. “They would claim that you knew or should have known that debris could have hit your windshield. Does the warning not absolve them of liability by virtue of them warning you? Absolutely not.” A warning sign on a truck does not prevent a motorist from filing a personal injury claim for damages against a truck company.
Report A Truck
If you see a truck on a Georgia roadway that’s losing its load or dropping debris, you can contact the Georgia State Patrol at (404) 624-7700 or by dialing 511 on your cell phone. Be prepared to provide as much information as you can, including the time, location, a description of the truck, and the direction it’s heading.
Have Questions? Contact Burrow & Associates
If your vehicle has been damaged by flying debris, don’t let a warning sticker prevent you from filing a claim. At Burrow & Associates, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will hold the trucking company responsible and help you receive the financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation at one of our six Atlanta offices, you can call (678) 323-2394 or use our online contact form.