An accident with a tow truck can be devastating and scary, but there are several things you need to do to protect your safety and right to compensation.
First, seek medical attention, even if you think you are not hurt. Keep in mind that the adrenaline produced by an experience like a road accident can temporarily obscure injuries, so err on the side of caution when deciding whether to visit your doctor or receive emergency care.
It is important to do this as soon as possible, since medical bills are important documents for your claim.
Calling 911 will also ensure law enforcement comes to the scene and reports the accident.
Make sure others at the scene are safe and out of harm’s way. If there are no injuries, the law requires motorists to make a reasonable effort to move the vehicles aside to avoid obstructing the flow of traffic.
If you have a camera or phone available, take pictures of the accident scene before any parties move their vehicles. Document the scene as thoroughly as possible. Photographic evidence will be an important factor in determining fault in a tow truck accident.
Call an attorney who has experience dealing with truck and tow truck crashes. Law enforcement will perform an investigation at the scene. But in the days and weeks following the accident, your counsel may conduct its own, which could include inspecting the vehicles involved and reconstructing the event. If necessary, Coffey Trial Law can complete this process for you in the Fort Lauderdale area.
Contact your insurance company. Reporting accidents, regardless of fault, might be a part of your contract you signed. If you do not report your accident, your insurer might refuse to cover you if it turns out you are at-fault.
What should I NOT do after a tow truck accident?
Do not leave the accident scene before contacting law enforcement and obtaining insurance information from the driver of the tow truck. If you leave before officers allow, you can face hit and run charges.
Do not admit fault, even if you think you caused the accident. Under Florida’s pure comparative negligence law, drivers can be up to 99 percent responsible for an accident; however, their negligence will decrease their settlement award. This is why it is important to allow the insurers to complete an investigation before you discuss fault.
Do not sign anything or provide a recorded statement to an insurer other than your own. Proceed with caution when dealing with your own insurer as well. Either insurer can use your words against you when determining fault and your settlement amount.
Who is liable if I am in an accident with a tow truck and the driver is at fault?
Like with other types of commercial or service vehicles, accidents with tow trucks are more difficult to sort out than collisions involving two cars. That is because the truck likely belongs to a towing company, which would generally be liable for damages, not the driver.
This is because the driver is, by law, an agent of the tow truck company. Under the theory of vicarious liability, employers (in this case, the tow truck company) are liable for the actions of their employees, so long as these employees act within the scope of their employment.
In some instances, a manufacturer of a defective part, such as a hitch, could share liability if the defective part contributed to the crash. The same is true of a maintenance company that performed inadequate service on the vehicle, depending on what caused the accident. In such cases, you may be able to file a product liability case against the manufacturer.
A tow truck accident attorney from Coffey Trial Law can help you determine fault and which party should provide compensation for medical care or lost wages.
What can I recover for my tow truck accident?
The law requires towing companies to carry liability insurance for each vehicle ranging from $50,000 to $300,000, depending on how much the tow truck weighs. This means you can recover the following damages, up to that limit:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. (If you are able to prove you suffered a serious injury)
Our team works with experts to determine the value of your economic and noneconomic losses.
Why are tow trucks dangerous?
Tow trucks perform vital work by keeping highways and roads free of damaged or abandoned vehicles. But they also present unique hazards to other motorists. The news in Florida is full of reports about fatal accidents involving tow trucks, such as the tragic crash in January 2017 on State Road 326 in Ocala, where a tow truck struck a former congressional candidate’s SUV, killing him along with his wife and son.
Tow trucks — or wreckers, as defined by state law — can endanger nearby motorists in several ways, such as:
- Not parking far enough away from traffic
- Moving more slowly than a passenger car
- Improperly securing the car being towed
- Unqualified drivers
Call Coffey Trial Law for a FREE consultation with a tow truck accident lawyer.
As with most truck accidents, there is a lot to consider in the aftermath of a crash with a tow truck. Even accidents that are not deadly can still be devastating. If you have been injured in an accident involving a tow truck, there are some important steps you will need to take to secure the compensation you deserve.