Tow truck accidents can cause a lot of damage to vehicles and to others sharing the road. Who is responsible for these damages, which could include extensive medical costs, lost wages and other losses?
Anderson & Cummings discusses more about tow truck crashes in Texas, including how they happen and who may be liable for your damages.
If you are injured in a crash caused by a tow truck driver, it is critical that you seek legal help right away. You can speak with a Fort Worth truck accident lawyer at Anderson & Cummings at no cost to you. Call our law offices 24/7 to request a FREE case review. If you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs.
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How Are Tow Truck Accidents Most Likely to Happen?
Like any type of collision, there are many reasons crashes may happen. When a collision involves a tow truck, the most common reasons may include:
Inexperienced or Improperly Trained Drivers
Understanding the mechanics of an oversized vehicle, such as a tow truck, is critical in preventing a crash. Drivers need to know, for example, how to turn without causing a rollover crash. It is also critical that they understand the need to allow more distance when stopping, since heavier vehicles take longer to stop. Tow trucks have other special equipment too. This means that the drivers need to know how to use this equipment as intended to avoid injury or harm to others.
Tow truck drivers in Fort Worth operate at all hours of the day. They may have schedules that are irregular, working both daytime and nighttime hours. Some drivers may be on call and be woken up in the middle of the night to provide an emergency tow.
These are just some of the reasons that drivers operating a tow truck may be more vulnerable to experiencing symptoms of fatigue and other issues, such as:
- Trouble focusing on the road
- Nodding off behind the wheel
- Tunnel vision
- Highway hypnosis
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired judgement
- Driving with a hangover
These symptoms, much like driving when drunk, can greatly increase the risk of a serious crash.
Improperly Secured Vehicles
If your vehicle broke down and was being towed, the tow truck driver is responsible for making sure it is properly secured and loaded before getting back on the road. If a vehicle is not properly secured, it could come loose, roll onto the road and crash into other vehicles.
Faulty Equipment or Poorly Maintained Tow Truck
All vehicles need to be regularly maintained to keep them in safe operating condition. This is every driver’s legal duty. In the case of a tow truck, it is the truck owner’s responsibility to make sure this happens. If a mechanical failure, such as worn brakes, contribute to the cause of your crash, then the owner could be held liable.
If the mechanical failure is due to a faulty part or a faulty repair, then the part manufacturer or service repair shop may share some liability for any crash that results.
Every vehicle has blind spots, but for a truck, including a tow truck, those blind zones are larger. It is critical that tow truck drivers know these blind spots to avoid hitting cars that may be traveling in those zones. Backup cameras, vehicle mirrors and driver assist technologies can help, but none of these features are foolproof. Drivers still carry the legal responsibility of taking extra steps to avoid causing a crash.
Exceeding Towing Limits
Additional factors that may commonly cause a crash with a tow truck include drivers who attempt to haul vehicles that are too heavy. Tow trucks need to know what their weight and size limits are to avoid causing their own vehicle to break down or crash due to exceeding their towing limits.
Naturally, other common factors, such as drinking and driving, speeding, aggressive driving behaviors or ignoring traffic safety laws can also contribute to a tow truck crash.
Who Pays if a Tow Truck Driver Causes a Crash?
If a Fort Worth tow truck driver causes a crash, there could be multiple liable parties. However, the first step will be determining whether the driver is an independent contractor or working as an employee for another company. These crashes are challenging to prove, which is why seeking help from a lawyer with experience handling these types of claims could greatly benefit you.
Possible liable parties for a tow truck accident could include:
- The tow truck driver
- The towing company or the owner of the truck
- The contractor or employee who loaded the truck
- The manufacturer of the tow truck, if there is a mechanical defect
- The individual or company responsible for maintaining and servicing the truck
While the tow truck driver may have been negligent in some way, an investigation could reveal that other factors also contributed to the accident. For instance, if the party responsible for maintaining the truck failed to service failing brakes. If this failure led to the crash, that party could also share liability.
Your attorney can fully investigate the cause of the crash to determine all of the parties who could have contributed to the accident and your damages.
Why Call a Lawyer Sooner Than Later?
Waiting to call a lawyer after a crash involving a tow truck driver is a bad idea. Evidence can easily get lost and also harder to get access to as more time passes.
For example, if there was camera footage on the tow truck or even from another driver who witnessed the crash, it could get written over. The driver may erase it before anyone asks for it.
If there were any tire marks in the road, they could help crash investigators determine what happened. However, these tracks quickly disappear over time. If there is no other evidence they existed – such as photos of the crash scene – you could be out of luck using them to support your claim.
Credible witnesses provide another strong piece of evidence in tow truck crash claims. However, if your attorney does not contact them soon after the crash, they may forget critical details.
What Types of Tow Trucks Are There?
There are several types and sizes of tow trucks available. These differences enable drivers to pick a truck that best serves their purposes, budget and the reason they need to transport their vehicles somewhere else.
The main types of tow trucks used include:
Flatbed Tow Truck
This popular choice for towing is best known for being able to carry a car on top of its flatbed trailer. Vehicles can easily be mounted on this tow truck, thanks to a hydraulic lift that raises or lowers the flatbed. The damaged vehicle can then either be driven or pulled onto the flatbed. Another benefit of this type of tow truck is that it is a safer towing method. Since all four wheels are on the trailer and nothing is being dragged, there is no mechanical stress on the vehicle being towed.
Integrated Tow Truck
Integrated tow trucks are specifically built to be able to handle heavier vehicles. Thanks to the additional axles, these trucks also provide more stability for your heavy-duty towing needs. For example, this vehicle is a great option if you need to tow a school bus, motor home or even another truck that has broken down.
Hook and Chain
These are probably what many people imagine when they think of a tow truck. Although they were once very popular, thanks to the simple way of connecting to a disabled vehicle using a heavy duty chain. However, today they are generally only used for totaled vehicles because the chains may scratch a vehicle or cause other damages.
A more modern version of a hook and chain, these tow trucks are less likely to damage the disabled vehicle. To connect the vehicle, you have to secure the yoke under the front or rear wheels. Once the vehicle is connected, it gets raised halfway off the ground. A hook and chain truck is less expensive than either a flatbed or integrated tow truck. If you have a smaller vehicle and you are having it towed only a short distance, this could be a good option.
How Can I Avoid Being Involved in a Tow Truck Crash?
The tips for avoiding being involved in a crash with a tow truck are straightforward and easy to remember:
- Avoid the blind spot of a tow truck: Like most trucks, this includes the areas directly in front of, to the right side of, and directly behind, a tow truck.
- Never drive between two trucks: If a rear-end crash occurs and you are caught in-between, it greatly increases the risk of life-altering or fatal injuries.
- Watch out for a tow truck engaging in reckless driving behaviors: The driver could be drifting in and out of traffic lanes, nodding off or driving aggressively.
- Be mindful of a tow truck’s cargo and whether it looks secure: Do not remain behind a tow truck with swaying cargo. Avoid driving behind a tow truck whenever possible.
- Avoid driving directly in front of a tow truck: This is another blind spot zone for a tow truck. You do not want to risk getting rear-ended by one of these heavier vehicles.
Need Legal Help After a Tow Truck Crash?
Our firm is always prepared to help, and you can contact our law offices 24/7 to request your free case review. We welcome your legal questions and bring decades of experience and a proven history of success to the table.
We have recovered over $100 million for our clients and are ready to seek the maximum possible compensation on your behalf. There is nothing to pay to get started, and we only get paid our fees if we win your case.
Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. (817) 920-9000.