ATLANTA — You may have seen the disclaimer on the back of dump trucks on a sticker - they offer a warning that you need to stay behind the truck by some distance, or they're not responsible if anything falls out of the truck and breaks your windshield.
They're frequently seen on the roads, and frequently the source of anxiety - stuff, after all, often falls off the back of those trucks all the time. Who hasn't had the experience of picking up at least a little crack on your windshield once or twice?
According to that sticker, if you're following too closely, it's your fault. But is that really how the law works?
Do warning stickers protect trucking companies from liability?
No, the stickers don't protect trucking companies from liability if something falls off their truck and breaks your windshield.
WHAT WE FOUND
We asked, from a legal standpoint, what do these bumper stickers mean?
"Absolutely nothing," said personal injury lawyer Darren Tobin. "Those bumper stickers are meaningless. The truck company has a duty to prevent anything form falling off the backs of their trucks. In fact there's federal statutes and state statutes that regulate this exact thing."
However, there's a little caveat - what if the debris is already on the road, and the truck simply kicks it up?
"If something strikes your vehicle and it comes off the road, the truck will not be responsible," Tobin said. "Because then it's something that could be there from any company or any person."
Tobin advises that if your car does get struck by something falling off the back of a truck, don't chase the truck - instead call 911, and try to get a tag number. If you pursue the truck and get into an accident, that could be on you.
Taylor Mabrey with Express Auto Glass in Marietta agreed. It's best to get a tag - and remember to keep your receipt.
"I've had to email receipts to companies before, send credit card receipts and stuff like that, just to prove that this customer did in fact pay and they are entitled to reimbursement," she said.
So, no, the bumper stickers don't really hold any legal water - they're just a warning.
If it's coming off the road, that's bad luck for you, but if it's something being hauled that hits you, that's on them.
However, as Mabrey noted, you'll need proof and documentation to get compensation. One thing experts recommend to help with that is a dashboard camera.