What Damage Can Happen From Towing a Car?

Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes

If you have a vehicle towed, it is often because it has already been involved in an accident or because it has a mechanical issue. When you entrust your car to the towing service, you don’t want your vehicle to be damaged by the towing.

However, a tow truck can damage a vehicle when special precautions are not used. Of course, various cosmetic damages could result from the vehicle being hooked up to the tow truck:

  • Scratches to the exterior
  • Dents
  • Dings
  • Transmission damage
  • Wheel and tire damage
  • Linkage damage

Mechanical Issues and Transmission Damage

Mechanical damage can also result from towing when it is not done properly. For example, towing can damage a vehicle’s transmission when it is not properly done. If a vehicle with an automatic transmission is towed with the drive wheels on the ground, a lot of damage could result.

If a vehicle is in “park” the drive wheels will skid and damage the tires and linkages that lead back to the transmission. When a vehicle is towed, it should be put into “neutral.” Front-wheel drive vehicles should only be towed from the front wheels.

Four-wheel drives with a transfer case or vehicles with a manual transmission need to be put into neutral. Automatic transmissions do not disengage the wheels when in neutral, so towing could force the transmission to go into a direction that it can’t turn, which will lead to damage. The wrong movement might prevent the oil from moving through the gears and transmission as it should.

What Damage Can Happen From Towing a Car?

Pursuing a Claim Against the Towing Company

Pursuing a claim for damages from the towing service can be challenging. You will have to prove that the damage in question was done by the tow truck itself.

Sometimes, the tow truck driver might admit to the incident. At other times, you might have to produce documentation or other evidence, such as eyewitnesses, who can confirm that your vehicle was not damaged prior to being towed.

For example, if there is a coworker who parked beside you everyday and who knew your car was not damaged and was free of dents and scratches. Or, if you carpool and there are riders who can confirm your vehicle’s transmission was fine the day before it was towed, that can be beneficial in getting your claim with the towing company resolved.

Evidence To Gather

If your vehicle was damaged while it was being towed, you will need to gather supporting evidence for your claim. You must show the extent of damages and the severity of those damages and gather supporting documentation that shows the damage was caused by the towing and prove liability.

When the tow truck arrives to get your vehicle, you should try to record the car being hooked to the tow truck. This video could help show what damaged occurred and how.

If you believe there is internal damage to your vehicle, or if there are mechanical issues, you should be sure to tell the tow truck driver. That way, they will take extra precautions to ensure that the problem isn’t worsened and that they don’t cause more damage to your vehicle.

They will know what to do to help prevent further damage. Tell the tow truck driver about any concerns that you may have, so they will be extra attentive to the situation.

  • Photos of the vehicle before and after towing
  • Video of the tow truck hooking up or loading the vehicle
  • Witness statements
  • Repair estimates
  • Rental car receipts

Jot down the details about your car being damaged by the tow truck while the incident is fresh in your memory. You will need to provide the specifics to the insurance company for your personal injury claim. You should be sure to take note of all your damages. You can only pursue one claim per accident, and you will want to make sure that you have included all your damages.

Your Responsibilities For Evidence

You should get photos of your vehicle before the tow truck hooks up to or loads your vehicle. You should then get photos after your vehicle is unhooked or unloaded. Ask any witnesses to provide you with written statements regarding what they saw, what happened, and how it happened. You will need to get a written estimate for repairing the damage to your vehicle that was suffered by the tow truck.

Don’t move your vehicle. If there is internal damage – or mechanical issues – you could unknowingly worsen the problem. You will want the towing company to address the issue. While accidents do happen and the tow truck can cause damages, the towing company employees have undergone training and know what to do to prevent further damage to your vehicle.

Talk with the tow truck driver, and if he or she doesn’t cooperate, ask to speak with their supervisor or even the owner of the company. If you cannot get help from anyone within the towing company, or if they dispute that they caused the damage, you should call the police and have an accident report completed. When you send your demand letter to the towing company, you will need to supporting documentation that shows you suffered damages and why you believe the towing company is responsible for those damages.

You will need to send copies of the before and after photos, and if you have a video that shows your vehicle being damaged by the tow truck, you should indicate that in your letter. You will need to send a copy of the repair estimate and any invoice for a rental car while your vehicle is inoperable.

Also, keep copies of any tow bills. You should send copies of any statements from witnesses to the accident with the tow truck that caused your vehicle to be damaged.

You should itemize all your losses – including the costs of repairing your vehicle, the tow bill, and the costs associated with a rental car. You will then add up those expenses and come up with the total that you want to recover for your damages.

You should be willing to negotiate. Your request will either be approved, denied, or you will get a counteroffer.

If you cannot reach an out-of-court settlement with the towing company and their insurer, you will want to file a lawsuit against the towing company. The towing company and their insurance company will have legal representation, so you should hire an accident injury lawyer to help you pursue a claim against the tow truck driver for the damages that towing caused your vehicle.

Repairing the Damages

You will want to make sure all the damages are repaired properly and safely. After all, when you drive your car again you don’t want the safety to be compromised.

Sometimes the damages can be so expensive to repair that the car can be a total loss. If your car is totaled, that simply means that the cost to repair it is more than the current book value of your vehicle.

If your car is a total loss, the insurance company will want to give you what they call fair market value for it. They will check to see what a similar car – age wise, options, and mileage, would retail for in your specific area. Your personal injury lawyer will help you with this aspect of the claim, and this is especially true if you believe that you aren’t being offered a fair settlement for your vehicle.

Remember that documentation is a necessity for a successful personal injury claim. With help from a personal injury lawyer, you gather the supporting evidence that you need to have a successful claim if the tow truck has damaged your vehicle.

There is a statute of limitations – or a time limit – for pursuing a claim to recover property damages after an accident. Don’t wait until it is too late to get your claim underway.

Don’t agree to a settlement too quickly. Instead, be sure to talk to a personal injury lawyer before negotiating with the towing company and/or their insurer. Make sure you take all your supporting evidence and documentation to an accident injury lawyer who handles cases in your state. Don’t delay getting your case review.

Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer

If your vehicle was damaged while towing, you can pursue a claim against the towing company. Consult with a personal injury attorney who will review the details of your case and help you gather up supporting evidence and documentation.

Your personal injury lawyer will not be compensated until you recoup your losses through a settlement or a judgment. Time is of the essence, though, because personal injury claims have a statute of limitations that are dependent on state law. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page today to get your claim on track.

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