Does a ‘Not Responsible For Broken Windshields’ Sign Work In Louisiana?
So you're driving down the road in Louisiana and you see a truck ahead of you. There's one of two options, slow way down and stay away from them, or try to get by them as fast as possible. Because dump trucks and work trucks all over this state are constantly responsible for destroying windshields on the roadways.
Many Louisiana residents just consider it to be a normal part of life. But as a resident of multiple other states, I personally have never seen anything like this before. Nowhere that I've lived have I ever seen as many cracked windshields as I have in Louisiana.
But a lot of these trucks have signs on the back that read 'Not Responsible For Broken Windshields', or something along those lines. Does that actually mean that they can load up with as much gravel as possible and fly down the road without a care in the world? Short answer, no.
Attorney Brad Bonilla told KVUE that a sing like that really doesn't matter, he said:
"A sign would not be a contract that would prevent a motorist from presenting a claim for damages against a trucking company, legally speaking, at best they can say the sign was a warning"
However, in his conversation with KVUE, Bonilla added that its also complicated to make sure a truck that damages your windshield pays. You will have to get a lot of info on the truck. You will need to know the license plate, the DOT number, the company name, and a description of the driver. Essentially, Bonilla says you need to know who you're going to sue.
Which might be a little too far for most people. Because the attorney suggested that you could only sue for the cost of the windshield, not for attorney fees, or any other financial element. So the whole thing might cost more than a new windshield.
But there's another element to this in Louisiana. A truck that damages another vehicle could lead to jail time.
According to 2011 Louisiana Laws Revised Statutes TITLE 32 — Motor vehicles and traffic regulation, RS 32:383 — Loads on vehicles; care required thereto; penalties; definition debris escaping from a truck could be punishable by a fine and jail time. Here's the full text:
§383. Loads on vehicles; care required thereto; penalties; definition
A.(1) The load on a vehicle shall not drop, sift, leak, or otherwise escape therefrom, except that sand may be dropped on a highway to secure traction or a liquid substance may be dropped on a highway to clean or maintain such highway.
(2) Any load of garbage, refuse, sludge, and other discarded material being transported by a commercial hauler shall be covered while being transported in such a manner as to prevent the load from spilling or dropping from the vehicle.
(3) Any violation of Paragraph (2) of this Subsection for failure to cover any load of garbage, refuse, sludge, and other discarded material shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
(4) The penalty provisions of Paragraph (3) of this Subsection shall not apply when the load was properly covered and subsequently became uncovered as the result of an accident or circumstances beyond the control of the operator of the vehicle.
B.(1) The load on any vehicle shall be securely fastened so as to prevent the covering or load from becoming loose, detached, or in any manner a hazard to other users of the highway.
(2) Freight containers, as defined in 49 CFR 171.8, used in both the waterborne transport of cargo and in the overland transport of cargo shall be properly secured so as to prevent the container from becoming loose, detached, or in any manner a hazard to other users of the highway.
(3) Any violation of Paragraph (2) of this Subsection shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
(4) The penalty provisions of R.S. 32:383(B)(3) shall not apply when the freight container was properly secured and subsequently became loose or detached as the result of an accident or circumstances beyond the control of the operator of the vehicle.
C. "Loose material" means dirt, sand, gravel, nails, or other material that is capable of blowing or spilling from a vehicle as a result of movement or exposure to air, wind currents, or weather, but shall not include agricultural products in their natural state or wood chips.
Which means that a truck who breaks your windshield may actually be facing jail time, whether they have a warning sign on their truck or not.
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