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Tow Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident involving a tow truck, or by the negligent loading or unloading of a tow truck, you might be entitled to compensation from the tow truck operator and their employer.  If you are a tow truck operator injured due to faulty equipment or lack of maintenance, you may want to seek legal help.

At the Killino Law Firm we understand the laws that govern all motor vehicle accidents, particularly Tow Truck Accidents.  Our highly trained and experienced legal team has a proven track record of success in handling such accidents nationwide, and we know about highway safety.

About 500,000 truck accidents occur in the US each year, and a large percentage involves tow trucks. When the tow truck itself could be the cause of a crash, they are typically caused by collision or from improperly secured cargo. Equipment can fail, such as faulty tires. (Our firm prompted recalls through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), such as the national recall of 450,000 Chinese-made tires.)

If an accident is due to the tow truck driver’s negligence or company causing property damage or personal injury, victims will need help from a qualified tow truck accident attorney to ensure they are properly compensated. Conversely, a tow truck driver could be involved in an accident due to the tow truck company’s negligence.

Tow Truck Information

There are five basic types of tow trucks:

  • Hook and Chain Tow Truck: A one-ton truck with a wench that uses chains with a hook to tow vehicles and other things. The chains can damage paint if the truck driver is not careful.
  • Wheel-Lift Tow Truck:Similar to above, but the chains fasten to a device that looks like a yoke but slides up under the car and fastens underneath. The front end of the car is then lifted up off the ground to tow.
  • Heavy Duty Tow Trucks: Also known as integrated tow trucks, used for towing large commercial motor vehicles such as buses or 18-wheeler cabs. Sturdier than the typical tow truck, they have an extra axle for support.
  • Flatbed Tow Truck:A flatbed is typically used for cars.  The truck has a flat bed outfitted with a hydraulic bed, enabling it to reach ground level to slide the disabled vehicle up and onto the flatbed.
  • Rollback Tow Truck:A rollback is the same basic design as a flatbed except the bed moves back and then tilts, allowing the rear end to lower onto the ground for loading the vehicle. The truck bed becomes the ramp.

Causes of Tow Truck Accidents

When an accident occurs with a loaded tow truck on a busy highway the outcome is often catastrophic.

You have likely seen speeding tow trucks running red lights– with their lights flashing—racing to be first at the scene of an accident. It’s ironic that a tow truck driver demonstrates reckless driving and potentially creates another driving hazard, or even worse, a second vehicle incident. One main reason why tow trucks are involved in so many accidents is because the more tows that drivers perform, the more money they earn. Some tow truck companies encourage their drivers to speed, break traffic laws, and take chances in the interest of profits over safety.

Some of the most common tow truck accidents are caused by:

  • Reckless Driving to be first on the scene
  • Speeding to be first on the scene
  • Parking in a place that is not safe or impedes traffic
  • Failure to use proper warning signage
  • Drowsy driving due to working excessive hours
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to secure the tow properly
  • Equipment failure
  • Failure to check blind spot, unsafe lane change

Many of the accidents involving tow trucks—and flatbed tow trucks in particular– are directly related to the type of cargo they are hauling. These loads can make the truck unstable by creating a high center of gravity, the tendency to shift forward or laterally, or becoming loose and falling to the roadway. If that load is a severely damaged car, pieces of the vehicle might dislodge during travel and fall off.  This could cause severe injuries to pedestrians or drivers, or it may cause drivers to crash while avoiding the debris.

Product Liability Actions

Tow truck products liability actions have been filed where operators and bystanders have been injured or killed. For instance, some tow trucks have to be in neutral to rev up and operate the flat bed and that can be a dangerous combination.

Another common cause is equipment failure. While equipment manufacturers are liable for failing to produce a safe product, the tow truck company is responsible for maintaining its vehicles properly, including all safety features, such as lighting and warning signals. Faulty brakes, tires or recalled parts can create a dangerous situation that can lead to accidents resulting in severe property damage, serious personal injury, or even wrongful death.

The towing company could also be liable if it failed to train their drivers sufficiently and familiarize them with safety features. Truckers may not receive the required and extensive training about securing a load properly and proper safety checks. Avoiding periodic load checking can lead to unnecessary personal injury and property damage.

Tow Truck Liability Insurance

Tow trucks are mostly intrastate, meaning they don’t do business across state lines. If a two truck is involved in interstate trucking, they must carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance.  If the tow truck involved in your accident is operating intrastate, both state and local county ordinances may apply. Most operators carry anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 per incident in liability coverage.

Tow Truck Lawsuits

Three people hit by a flatbed tow truck that collided with a cargo train in 2008 settled a lawsuit for a combined $1 million. The tow truck driver tried to drive his truck around a car that was waiting for a cargo train so he could make it over the tracks before the train arrived. The train clipped the back of the flatbed and sent it spinning into three pedestrians nearby. One individual sustained leg fractures and lacerations, while the other two sustained back injuries.

A criminal negligence lawsuit causing death was filed against the owner of a tow truck involved in a fatal highway crash in 2009.  A man was decapitated when his car clipped the right end of the GMC flatbed tow truck, which had jutted into the left passing lane. The tow truck driver had reversed the flatbed into the fast lane of traffic. His family filed a $2 million civil suit against the driver and the tow truck company. The prosecutor asked whether the safety of other motorists should have been more of a priority than completing a job in less than five minutes. The tow truck driver agreed that a driver would make more money the more calls he did in a day.

(Most tow truck accidents involve flatbed tow trucks because they are one of the most common and widely used towing vehicles.)

What You Should Do

Getting into an accident with a tow truck can be stressful and scary, to say the least, making it easy to forget important things you should do at the scene. Try to do the following:

  • Stay Calm
  • Check for injuries
  • Move out of traffic lanes, if you can do so safely
  • Call 911
  • Take down any information from eyewitnesses
  • Take any pertinent photos of vehicles involved and the scene – if you can do safely.
  • Collect all information of the tow truck driver’s permit (it must be legally displayed on the side of their vehicle)
  • After the police give you an incident report, call a tow truck accident lawyer

We thoroughly investigate the scene of the accident, the tow truck operator, the towing company, and the manufacturer of any failed equipment to make certain we hold every responsible party liable for their actions.  As well, we know regulations, which can be very helpful in proving negligence on the part of the tow truck driver, and they differ nationwide.

Our team includes several experts in the tow truck industry, who can tell us whether the driver used his safety equipment correctly and if the safety equipment was working properly. Also, we employ other experts to show the extent of your injuries, future effect of them and how much money you would have made from your job if you are unable to perform similar work you did before the accident. Additionally, we will talk to people who witnessed your crash as well as investigate the towing company.

Call us sooner than later. Timeliness is important and will ensure that you don’t miss the deadline to file, loose evidence or witnesses to the accident. We want you to receive the largest settlement possible.