Wondering if you can sue a towing company? Or what steps to take? Keep reading for answers.
There are many reasons why a towing company may be liable to you. They may have illegally towed your car, damaged your car or your belongings, or even lost your belongings. Below, we discuss how to sue a towing company and when it makes sense to consult an attorney.
Towing companies can make mistakes, and it is possible to take them to small claims court in some cases.
When Can You Sue a Towing Company?
Towing companies do more than just tow vehicles. They can also jump-start your car, bring gas, make emergency repairs, or change flat tires. Municipalities can tow illegally parked or inoperable vehicles with or without the driver's consent. And business owners and homeowners can have illegally parked vehicles towed.
When a towing company has possession of a car, they have a duty to use reasonable care when towing and storing it. If the towing company doesn't act reasonably, resulting damage to your vehicle or its contents, you may be able to file a negligence lawsuit.
To recover damages against a towing company, you'll need to prove four key elements:
- The towing company had a duty to use reasonable care while in possession of your vehicle
- The towing company breached this duty
- This breach caused harm to you or your vehicle
- As a result of the breach, you incurred damages
You can also sue for negligent towing if you can establish that the towing company didn't have the right to tow your vehicle.
Some of the most common types of damage alleged in a towing company lawsuit include:
- Broken or chipped windshields
- Damage to bumpers
- Damage to tires
- Scratches, dings, and dents
- Theft of property inside your vehicle
- Damage to property inside your vehicle
If you can establish all four elements of a negligent towing lawsuit and show actual damages, you may have a good chance of succeeding in a towing company lawsuit. Next, we discuss how to sue a towing company and the preliminary steps you'll need to take.
Factors to Consider When Suing a Towing Company
Before you decide to sue a towing company, consider a few factors.
First, you'll want to ensure your insurance company has already been notified. In some cases, the damage the towing company caused could be covered by your insurance at no cost to you. In other situations, your insurance company may be able to recover damages from the towing company without requiring you to sue.
You'll also want to reach out to the towing company—though it's often a good idea to consult an attorney first. While the towing company may be willing to make things right, having an attorney on your side can ensure you're getting a fair settlement offer.
How to Sue a Towing Company
Depending on the total value of your claim, you may be able to file either in a small claims court or a civil trial court. In most states, small claims courts allow you to bring relatively low-value claims without having an attorney. But because these limits can be low, you're usually better off filing a claim in civil court if you think your total damages may exceed this amount.
If you decide to file a civil lawsuit, you'll need an attorney. State trial courts will hold non-attorneys to the same standards as licensed attorneys. This means that if you don't know the rules of procedure well or can't authenticate the evidence in your favor, your claim may fail. This is true even if the facts are on your side. You may be able to find a lawyer or law firm that specializes in towing company lawsuits or a personal injury attorney.
Most towing company lawyers and personal injury attorneys handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that they don't recover a fee unless you recover damages. And even if your case doesn't go to trial, having an attorney on your side can help when it comes to negotiating a settlement.
After you hire an attorney, your attorney will investigate the claim, negotiate with the other parties involved, and work to build your case. Your attorney will also help you value your claim so any settlement offer compensates for all damages. It can come at any point in this process.
Don't want an attorney? You can still sue - there are online small claims filing services that will make the process quick and simple. Although they cannot provide legal advice, they can help with clerical issues and make filing less stressful.
At Dispute, the small claims filing process is made easy and affordable through our app. Instead of managing all of the paperwork, court dates, and filing on top of your regular responsibilities, let our experts take care of it for you. All you have to do is check your user dashboard for updates on your case. Our tools make it easy to manage the details for any state and county. All you need to do is put together evidence and show up for your day in court.