Liability of Towing Companies

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Liability of Towing Companies

Generally, a towing company is required to exercise ordinary care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation.  If a tow company fails to use due care, they may be liable for injuries caused by their negligence.

Is a Tow Company Liable for Damage?

A tow company can be liable for injuries it caused during a tow. Generally, the mere presence of a tow truck on a highway is not negligence per se (an act which is intrinsically negligent because of the violation of a statute), but does require the exercise of due care.  

In one case, a tow truck was liable for injuries it caused when it was attempting to tow a car in one lane and the truck protruded into another lane. Additionally, a tow company may be liable when a tow connection is hidden or discovery of it is difficult. In that case, the tow connection is required to be indicated by warnings or lights.  

Finally, a tow truck driver should give proper signals or warnings of his approach and some indication that it is towing a vehicle. Failing to do so may be evidence of negligence.

What If My Car Is Damaged in the Tow Yard?

If your vehicle is damaged or items are stolen while inside a tow yard, the tow company may be liable for breach of contract or negligence. Again, the tow company is required to use ordinary care that a reasonable person in similar situations would use. The major factor in determining reasonable care in the tow yard seems to be security. This includes the use of lights, gates, and security personnel. When contents are stolen from your vehicle, the contents stolen must have been foreseeable to the tow company to be liable. To be foreseeable, they must have been in plain view when the vehicle was towed, were the usual or ordinary equipment of the car, or items that could reasonably anticipated to be there.

Should I Consult An Attorney About the Liability of Tow Companies?

Tow companies often try to limit their liability through exculpatory clauses. Additionally, proving that the tow company was responsible can be difficult and there may be statutes which effect the tow company's duty. If you have suffered injury or property damage and you think a tow company was at fault, you should contact an attorney who can help you recover damages for your injuries.

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Last Modified: 03-04-2014 03:32 PM PST

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