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Can You Hold Other Drivers Accountable For Rock Chips in Your Windshield?

You are driving down the road, heading home from work or school, when suddenly a rock or piece of debris flies up from under the tires of the car in front of you and hits your windshield. If you are lucky, the damage is minor, with only a slight scratch or chink. In more serious situations, it can cause your windshield to crack or even shatter, impacting your visibility and increasing your risks for car accidents or injuries. When this type of incident occurs, can you hold the other driver accountable? The answer depends on the particular situation, and the amount of damage that was done.

Damages Caused By Roadside Debris

Flying rocks, rubber, or other hazards can do more than just ruin your paint job or chip your windshield. An August 2016 news release from the American Automobile Association (AAA) states that recent data and statistics indicate that over the past four years, more than 200,000 car crashes have occurred due to road debris in the U.S. and that between 2011 and 2014, these accidents resulted in nearly 40,000 injuries and as many as 500 deaths.

The report states that one of the biggest dangers posed by flying debris is the fact that drivers often swerve suddenly to avoid the object. This increases the odds of losing control over the vehicle, while increasing the potential for impacts with other drivers. Roughly two-thirds of all road debris is the result of improper road maintenance and unsecured driver loads. Included among the most common types of debris found on roads are:

  • Rocks, pebbles, and chunks of concrete;
  • Rubber strips from tire blow outs;
  • Tree limbs and branches from recent storms;
  • Screws, bolts, and metal parts;
  • Cans, bottles, and other types of litter.

Holding Other Drivers Accountable

Under Chapter 818 of the Oregon Vehicle Code, commercial truckers and drivers hauling or towing objects like large travel trailers can be held accountable for damages caused to other motorists and their vehicles due to flying debris caused by shifting or unsecured loads. In the case of gravel or stones thrown up from the road by the tires of another vehicle, obtaining compensation for your damages may be more of a challenge. In either situation, you should make note of the driver’s license plate number, the time of the incident, and the road on which you were traveling when it occurred. Depending on the extent of the damage, follow up with one of the following:

  • For extensive damage or in the event you are injured, you should pull over immediately, notify law enforcement by calling 911, and wait for help to arrive.  
  • In less severe cases, once you are safely off the road you can contact the state highway patrol or local police department and file a police report, using a non-emergency number.  

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If you have been injured or suffered damages due to flying road debris, contact our experienced Portland car accident attorney. At the Johnston Law Firm, we can advise you on the best course of action so that you can get the compensation you deserve. We serve Portland and the surrounding areas; call or contact our office online today for a free consultation.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.