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Tow Truck Accident Lawyers

Legally reviewed by: Jenna-Marie Cosme October 12, 2022
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Tow truck accidents can cause extensive damage, from property damage to your vehicle to bodily injury, leading to hefty medical bills and recovery time. If you or a loved one were hurt in a tow truck accident, contact LegalFinders to learn how you can get help with your personal injury claim.

Tow truck and crashed car on the road

Tow trucks are often seen as beacons of hope and help on the road, but unfortunately, they’re also capable of causing their own type of destruction.

A number of things can go wrong with these large vehicles, leading to tow truck crashes. And these types of car accidents can cause property damage, serious injuries, or, in the most tragic cases, even death.

If you’ve been involved in this type of incident, a skilled truck accident lawyer can help you build a strong case and seek the compensation you deserve.

What Causes Tow Truck Accidents?

As with all types of motor vehicle accidents, there can be a number of factors that lead up to a tow truck accident. Due to the unique size, shape, and function of these vehicles, there are a number of common causes of tow truck accidents.

Though not as large as semi-trucks with tractor trailers attached, tow vehicles are big, heavy, and more difficult to handle than passenger vehicles.

This means it takes longer for tow truck drivers to change speeds — whether they want to go faster, slower, or come to a stop — which can lead to a number of accidents.

Since tow trucks have so many bulky mechanisms on their rear, they also tend to have bigger blind spots, and a tow truck operator may not see a smaller car when changing lanes.

Of course, mechanical failure can always play a role, as well as a tow truck driver’s negligence. And even the tow truck company may be considered at fault for the accident, if they fail to properly maintain their vehicle.

Understanding Your Legal Options After A Tow Truck Accident

If you or a loved one has been involved in this type of accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you build your case through several legal avenues.

Starting A Truck Accident Claim

The first step toward filing a truck accident claim is getting a free case evaluation with a tow truck accident lawyer.

These experts will be able to analyze your situation, determine parties that may be at fault, and identify the types of damages you can ask for.

Building a case can be complicated and time-consuming. Often, an experienced law firm will have their own team of experts recreate the scene of the accident to understand what went wrong.

Your truck accident lawyer will also help you file the appropriate paperwork, at the appropriate times; consult with insurance companies; and negotiate with any attorneys hired by the tow truck company.

Filing A Personal Injury Lawsuit

More often than not, a truck accident case will settle out of court, with attorneys on both sides drawing up a compromise that works for everyone. But sometimes, these legal teams are unwilling or unable to come to an agreement.

In these cases, you may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. This will bring your claims to court, with your case and that of the other side presented to a judge and possibly a jury.

While it’s not technically required to have a personal injury lawyer represent you in these cases, these experts are far more likely to get you desired results, thanks to their resources and years of experience.

What Documentation Will You Need For A Tow Truck Claim?

In the case of a tow truck crash, necessary documents may include (but not be limited to):

  • The police report on the accident
  • Damage estimates/repair bills
  • Medical bills
  • Vehicle information, including:
    • Title
    • Registration
    • Current insurance card
  • Photographs of any injuries or property damage

You may be asked to provide additional information if you’re suing for compensation related to missing work due to personal injury, including paystubs, tax documents, or your W-2 forms.

A capable truck accident lawyer will be able to help you sort out which documents you need to file your claim.

Is The Truck Driver Always At Fault In A Tow Truck Crash?

When any type of commercial truck is involved in an accident, the driver is frequently found at fault.

If the tow truck operator was negligent, careless, or reckless in their driving, or participating in entirely avoidable behavior that led up to a crash, they will most likely be considered at fault.

Of course, there are other factors that may play into the events that caused the crash, including the behavior of other drivers on the road and poor weather conditions.

But law firms specializing in these types of accidents will also look for any potential liable parties in these cases. This expands the definition of fault to any people or institutions that may have contributed to the conditions that caused or led up to the crash.

Identifying The Liable Party In Tow Truck Accidents

Aside from a tow truck driver, there are several people or institutions that can commonly be found liable in these types of cases.

Tow truck companies are responsible for maintaining their vehicles, ensuring all systems are safe, and requiring drivers to have proper training. Failing to fulfill these tasks puts the company at risk for being found liable.

Local, state, or national government offices could also be found liable if unsafe road conditions played a role in the accident, as these institutions are in charge of designing, building, and maintaining safe and reliable roads.

And of course, the tow truckers are not the only drivers involved in the incident. In some cases, the risky or negligent driving behavior of other motorists could lead to an incident.

Regardless, any parties found liable in these cases will be those responsible for paying damages.

How Does Negligence Affect Tow Truck Personal Injury Claims?

Negligence is another legal concept that has a great deal of impact on cases involving truck accident injuries.

It comes into play when assigning fault, and helps determine how intentional a party’s actions were leading up to an accident and, often, how much financial compensation they may be responsible for.

Broadly, there are three classes of fault assigned in personal injury cases: “negligent,” “careless,” or “reckless.”

Negligence typically refers to the purest form of an accident, and covers cases where a driver may have been fatigued or distracted before a crash, but was otherwise acting in good faith.

Those considered careless drivers in these cases are thought to knowingly participate in riskier driving behavior, such as speeding or tailgating, that could increase the odds of an accident.

Cases of reckless driving are considered the most serious, and often call for the highest amount of compensation.

What Other Laws Affect Tow Truck Injury Claims?

Depending on where you live, or which state you file your claim in, you may be subject to different rules regarding your case.

The Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations refers to how much time you have after an auto accident to file an accident or personal injury claim.

Some states may allow you to make your case for several years after the accident, though some legal windows are much shorter.

In general, it’s a good idea to start pursuing your case as soon as possible after being involved in a tow truck accident.

The Principle Of Negligence

In order to file any type of legal claim in the wake of an auto accident, you will need to prove negligence.

In order to do so, you must follow the principle of negligence, which involves identifying a “duty of care” on behalf of the liable party, and proving that they failed to uphold that duty, and the result led to real injuries, physical or otherwise.

Still, some states practice something called comparative negligence, which evaluates whether all parties involved had a duty of care, and failed to uphold it.

In these states, any negligence found on your part will be deducted from the maximum compensation you can seek.

At-Fault Vs. No-Fault Laws

At-fault and no-fault laws typically describe who is responsible for paying for an incident.

In at-fault states, the driver found at fault for an accident, or their insurance company, is responsible for covering any expenses connected to the crash.

In no-fault states, every driver must have something called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This policy typically covers any expenses related to a crash that the driver is involved in, regardless of who is found at fault.

In cases of very serious crashes, drivers in no-fault states may also seek compensation for costs that exceed their PIP coverage limits.

What Types Of Damages Can You Claim After A Tow Truck Accident?

Damages are the compensation you can receive in these cases, accounting for any costs you incurred in the accident, whether they be financial, physical, or emotional.

Medical Bills

Medical expenses are one of the most common types of damages to calculate in these cases.

They cover the cost of medical treatment required as a result of the crash, including:

  • Ambulance rides
  • Rides to and from the hospital
  • Surgery and hospitalization costs
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Doctor visits
  • Costs for at-home medical care
  • Therapy or rehabilitation bills
  • Medical devices

Lost Wages

A personal injury attorney will file for lost wages in cases where an injury prevented you from working after an accident.

They are also generally easier to tabulate, as they mostly concern costs related to your salary, but can cover a number of other work-related factors, including:

  • Bonuses
  • Promotions
  • Lost accounts

If you were unable to return to your job or pursue a similar line of work due to injuries sustained in a crash, you may also be entitled to compensation for any diminished earning capacity and complications related to changing careers.

Pain And Suffering

Pain and suffering is harder to financially calculate, but a very real factor for most accident victims.

These types of damages attempt to compensate you for any suffering in the wake of an accident that may stem from:

  • Physical pain
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium (the companionship of a spouse or partner)
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Wrongful Death

In the most tragic cases, you may be able to seek compensation for wrongful death.

These damages are tied to both the financial and emotional costs of losing someone in a major car accident, and can cover:

  • Funeral or burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of emotional support
  • Loss of income or capacity to save money

What Are Common Injuries In Large Truck Accidents?

Unfortunately, tow truck accidents can cause a number of serious injuries, including:

  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Disfigurement
  • Dismemberment
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injury and other head injuries

Tow Truck Accident Rates In The United States

Tow truck accident statistics can be difficult to come by, as most government agencies use broader categories to determine accident rates with large vehicles.

There were as many as 4,842 large trucks involved in a fatal accident in 2020, according to numbers compiled by the National Safety Council (NSC).

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported 4,014 deaths in motor vehicle accidents involving commercial vehicles in 2020, with 68% of those deaths occurring for riders of passenger vehicles.

Other numbers show that tow truck drivers are at greater risk of being involved in a fatal crash, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finding 191 tow truck operators killed nationwide in 2016 — a rate of 42.9 fatal injuries for every 100,000 workers.

FAQs

If you have been involved in a tow truck accident, you may have many questions. Below are a few of the most common inquiries and answers.

Are Tow Trucks Dangerous?

There are four major types of tow truck that could bring their own dangers to the road, including:

  • Flatbed tow trucks: More susceptible to rear-end crashes
  • Wheel lift tow trucks: Cargo could be improperly loaded
  • Hook and chain tow trucks: Bigger blindspots
  • Integrated tow trucks: Carry larger vehicles, harder to stop or maneuver

Generally, however, tow trucks of all types are not considered dangerous on the roadway.

Are Tow Truck Accidents Common?

Statistics that specifically track tow truck accidents are difficult to come by. However, it’s not uncommon for large commercial trucks to be involved in roadway accidents.

How Much Will I Get In A Tow Truck Accident Claim?

The legal compensation you may be entitled to entirely depends on your situation, but could range from thousands of dollars for minor injuries up to a million or more for catastrophic (life-changing or life-threatening) injuries.

Your personal injury attorney can help you determine the damages involved in your specific case.

Can I Be At Fault For A Tow Truck Accident?

Yes. It’s possible for the driver of a passenger vehicle to contribute to or cause a tow truck accident.

Do I Need A Lawyer To File A Personal Injury Claim?

It’s not required to hire a lawyer to represent you in these cases, but finding an experienced tow truck accident attorney will help ensure you build the strongest case possible, and help the process go more smoothly.

Connect With Top Truck Accident Lawyers Near You

Major car accidents of any type can be emotionally and financially debilitating, and the legal process behind seeking compensation can be equally confusing and complex.

But an experienced tow truck accident attorney can help remove the stress from the process, and build you a strong case.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a tow truck accident, LegalFinders can help you find a free consultation, and start working on building your case today.

Article Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — NIOSH Research Rounds

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) — Fatality Facts 2020: Large Trucks

National Safety Council (NSC) — Injury Facts

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