Your car might be your baby, or your car might simply be the vehicle you need to get from point A to point B every day. Regardless of how you prefer to use and care for your car, you probably wouldn’t be too pleased if someone added insult to injury by causing damage when your car is already being towed.
Many people experience situations like this, and it can be a serious inconvenience, especially if you aren’t car-savvy or legal-savvy — or perhaps both, depending on your exact situation.
While a cracked windshield is one of the most common types of damage caused by tow trucks, it isn’t the only possibility. Having your car towed can sometimes lead to trouble of various kinds — like brake pad wear, tire damage, headlight damage, dents, and scratches. Perhaps you’re already dealing with the damage and that’s why you’re here. Or, alternatively, you could be apprehensive about getting your car towed.
Well, have no fear, because we have answers. Here’s what happens if a tow truck causes damage to your car.
Are They Liable for the Damage?
If your car is damaged in any way by a tow truck, the first question you may find yourself asking is whether the company is liable for the damage.
First, you should understand a bit about liability. Liability is when a company or person is responsible for the care and protection of an item, person, or idea. This includes using ordinary care when transporting a vehicle. The rule of ordinary care applies to tow trucks, as towing companies can be liable for damage caused by their negligence.
Are the Drivers Responsible for Damage?
Is it the company that’s responsible, or the driver? Well, that depends. In most cases and most states, the rules of vicarious liability apply, which is the legal action of holding one party or person liable for the actions of another. In this case, it would refer specifically to the employer being responsible for the actions of the employee.
This can be proven if any of the following took place:
- The employee worked under the direction of an employer
- The employer inherently had the power to control the employee
- The employee’s actions were within the scope of their employment.
What to Do If Your Car Has Been Damaged
If your car has been damaged by a tow truck, you may be at a loss for what to do. First, stay calm. There are a few things you can do to ensure your rights and your vehicle remain protected. Technically, two truck drivers are required to report accidents and injuries to OSHA.
So, depending upon the situation, they may already be taking responsibility for the accident. However, regardless of the situation, there are a few steps you should take a soon as you can:
- Document the damage however you can.
- Document the tow truck itself.
- Don’t take cash or payment for the damage on-the-spot, as it could make it harder to take required legal action if necessary.
- Ask the towing company to pay for repairs.
- If they won’t pay, file a police report and contact your insurance company about the situation.
How to Document Damage
Regardless of how well the situation is going, you should always have documentation just in case something goes wrong. Take clear photos of your car from multiple angles so you can see all the damage. You can even take videos if that helps the clarity.
You should also take photos of the tow truck itself and get the driver’s name. You might not need these in the long run, but it’s good to have them just in case.
Can You Settle Without a Lawsuit?
As mentioned above, you can start by asking the tow truck company to cover the damage they caused.
If they agree to cover the damage costs, you won’t need to get anybody else involved. If the company truly made an honest mistake and wants to make things right, you might be able to get everything fixed in one go and be done with it.
When to Sue
If the company doesn’t plan to cover the damage and they don’t offer to repair it, you might need to take legal action. Of course, if you can negotiate or settle outside of a lawsuit, that would likely be the ideal option.
However, if they truly caused damage that needs repairing and you feel entitled to compensation, you should contact an attorney to go over your options.
What to Do If a Tow Truck Causes Damage
Whether your car is your baby or just your means of transportation, you deserve to have it protected and taken care of. Whether you get things fixed right away or you have to take legal action, you deserve the compensation you need.