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Can You Sue a Tow Truck Company for Damaging Your Car?
Getting your car towed comes with its own level of stress and hassle depending on the circumstances. Regardless of the situation, towing could cost money in addition to the parking fine or cause to your vehicle damage as a result of moving your car. To make matters worse, sometimes your car gets damaged in the towing process, causing additional distress and costing more money to repair the damage. Suing a tow company is not always an option, but it is always best to verify if you can receive compensation for the damages your car sustained.
California Tow Law
California tow law dictates that a car owner can sue a tow company only if the company doesn’t follow the law. In this case, a car owner can sue the tow company for up to four times the cost of the towing service, along with storage and the fees required to hire a personal injury attorney in some cases.
Burden of Proof
If a towing company practices improper towing practices, they are liable for the damage done to your car. This is the most direct route in pursuing a personal injury claim. If the damage was not directly related to the company’s towing practices, a case becomes more complicated, and harder to prove.
Tow-related damage is the most effective type of proof you can possess. Although it might be hard to prove exactly what went wrong, documenting your vehicle before it gets towed is one way to prove that damage occurred during the tow-process. However, this option isn’t available for someone who isn’t present when the towing company towed their car. In this case, the claimant must present evidence of damage specific to the towing process. The most common types of tow-related damage that occur in improper towing practices are:
- Bumper damage
- Tire damage
- Windshield damage
Damage done to either of these car parts via dents, scratches, or cracks, could imply negligent towing practices.
Can I File a Claim?
Any car owner can file a claim against a towing company, but it is in their best interest to consult with an attorney before pressing charges. Many firms provide free consultation and can let you know if your case has any grounds for success against the tow company. If you do have a valid case, an attorney will help you gather evidence and file your claim.
A claim filed for car damage during a towing procedure falls into your local small claims court circuit. When filing, it is important to emphasize that the tow company’s negligence is the cause of your car’s damage. Your attorney can help you prove the following things within your case’s investigation:
- The tow truck driver and company owed a duty to you, which was to tow your truck in a manner that prevents accidents from happening. California implies this under the state’s tow law.
- The tow truck driver or company breached this duty. Outside of the potential for tower negligence in hitching and driving your car, faulty components of the tow truck could have also contributed to the damage. This would still fall onto the tow company but remove the driver from the equation.
- You can trace your car’s damage to the negligence of the towing company.
You can also file a claim with your insurance company. You will still need to provide proof in this scenario, but court involvement is typically not necessary. Your insurance company’s claims adjusters help in the process of settling with third-party entities in accidents like this.
One key detail that will impact your claim is whether the government owns the tow company. All government-owned vehicles, including those involved in public transit, enjoy protection under sovereign immunity. This means that they have protection from citizens filing lawsuits against them. While this protection doesn’t extend to privately owned tow trucks, it is always best to check.
Suing a tow truck for damaging your car can be difficult if you cannot prove that their towing process directly caused the damage. However, you should consult with an attorney to determine this rather than making the call yourself.