If you were involved in a major car accident, you have countless things to worry about.
Questions pop into your head within seconds after the accident. Am I hurt? Is anyone else hurt? Am I in a safe area right now? What happened exactly?
More questions arise once you have time to process everything. Who was at fault for the accident? How will everything get paid? Do I need an accident lawyer?
The one thing most people seem to forget about is what happens to their vehicle after a major accident. In many situations, the car isn't drivable, or the driver isn't well enough to drive. After a substantial accident, there's a good chance you will end up needing a tow truck.
In the article below, we'll answer a few common questions about what happens when your car is towed and how you can reduce the cost as much as possible.
Table Of Contents:
- How Much Are Towing Fees?
- Who Pays for My Towing and Storage Fees?
- What if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
- Where Will My Car Go Once It Is Towed?
- When Will I Get My Car Back After It Was Towed?
- Get the Help You Need After Your Car Accident
How Much Are Towing Fees?
Towing prices typically add up fast. Unfortunately, most people don't have a chance to consent to the storage and towing fees due to how serious the accident scene is.
If your vehicle is blocking traffic, the police officer has to get it off the road quickly, and there is no time to pick what towing company you want to haul your vehicle. When your vehicle cannot be moved or you're unable to drive, the police will usually have it towed to the nearest salvage yard, and you will be responsible for the bill during pick up.
When your car or truck is taken to a salvage yard, daily storage fees will start accruing until you're able to retrieve it. In some cases, you'll be charged for multiple tows. One charge to the tow yard and another charge to a repair facility, where the final bill can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In the U.S., the average price to hire a tow truck is between $75 and $125.
Other fees may include:
- Mileage Fees- In the United States, the mileage fee is $2 to $4 per mile on average. Sometimes it can get as high as $7 a mile for RV's or other similarly-sized vehicles.
- Hookup Fees
- Local vs. Long-Distance Towing Fees
- Vehicle Type Costs- Overall fees may vary depending on the size or type of vehicle.
- Time of Day Costs- Fees may vary depending on the time or if it's a holiday. Some companies charge extra for towing a vehicle in the middle of the night.
- Degree of Difficulty Loading Fees- This depends on the vehicle's position and the vehicle's condition after the accident.
Who Pays for My Towing and Storage Fees?
How the towing is paid for is determined by who is found negligent in the accident. It can take several days, if not longer, for the police to complete an investigation. It is essential to contact the police so they can compile information for your police report. This report will be essential to your accident attorney and the insurance company.
If you're found to be negligent, you or your insurance company will be responsible for the bill of any vehicles towed from the accident scene if you live in an at-fault state. If another party was found negligent, then they will have to take care of the bill.
What your insurance will pay also depends on the type of coverage you and the other party have. If you have collision coverage, your towing costs are usually covered after an accident, no matter who the at-fault driver is. It could also be covered if you have additional towing and roadside assistance coverage on your policy. These options are usually available for an extra fee. Unlike collision insurance, this covers many instances where you might need a tow truck, like breakdowns or flat tires.
Some insurances pay directly for the tow, and some companies make you pay and then apply for reimbursement. This will depend on your insurance company, so get familiar with the auto insurance policy you pay for.
If you're a member of AAA or a similar auto club, you might also have free roadside assistance. Towing costs can also be covered by your car's warranty, and some credit card companies will even cover the bill.
No matter who ends up paying, you need to be sure to save all records of the accident, including any receipts or documents related to towing your vehicle, so that the insurance company can reimburse you.
What if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If you were hit in an at-fault state by an uninsured, negligent driver, you need to contact your insurance company and a personal injury lawyer. The uninsured motorist could face penalties such as fines, a license suspension, and even jail time, and they will be required to pay for their own damages.
Your insurance company will be responsible for your damages, such as your towing fees. If you end up having astronomical bills because of the accident, you have every right to take the uninsured motorist to court.
Where Will My Car Go Once It Is Towed?
As we've already mentioned, following your accident, the police will call a tow truck company if necessary. However, if you are not badly injured and your vehicle is not blocking the entire roadway, you can call a tow company yourself.
You have every right to get your car towed wherever you like by whatever tow company you choose, but there are instances where the police have no choice but to hire the closest towing company to get blocked traffic moving again.
Once your car is on the tow truck, it will most likely be taken to the tow yard, especially if you are taken to the hospital by paramedics. The police will give you the location of the tow yard. If you are not badly injured, you can request to have it taken wherever you'd like, such as an auto body shop, the dealership (if you have a leased vehicle), or your home.
Keep in mind, wherever the car gets dropped, it may not start. Make sure it does not block any other vehicles in your driveway or is put anywhere on your street where it could get towed again. Be aware that some companies will only tow your car or truck to their tow yard if you do not pay them upfront.
If you don't know any good mechanics, have your car towed to a shop with experience repairing your vehicle's make and model. If you're in a position to do so, talk with the tow truck driver and discuss how much the tow will cost, and get their contact information.
You should also be aware of towing scams. The majority of towing companies are honest and fair. Still, there are tow truck companies that will show up at accidents unsolicited, take your vehicle, and charge you outrageous storage fees. Certain states set limits to how much a towing company can charge for storage, the tow, and if there's a processing fee.
If you are unsure of who to use, the police always have a rotating list of trustworthy drivers they have worked with in the past. Verify that the truck that shows up matches the company you called, and never sign anything you aren't comfortable signing.
Hire a personal injury attorney. Part of their job is to go over all legal contracts for you. They will look over your towing contract to ensure you are not being cheated.
If you were scammed by a tow truck driver, report it to the relevant authorities.
When Will I Get My Car Back After It Was Towed?
If your car was taken to a salvage yard, the quick answer is that you should get it back as soon as possible to avoid paying daily storage fees. However, you want to be sure the negligent driver's insurance carrier assesses the damage first.
Notify the negligent party's insurance company that your car has been towed and ask them to collect evidence as soon as possible. Once they've finished, retrieve your car immediately.
If the other insurance company takes too long to respond, contact your insurance provider and ask them to work with the other company.
If there was a defect in your car, your case could turn into a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, so preserving any physical proof will be crucial to your accident injury lawyer.
Get the Help You Need After Your Car Accident
Having your car towed can be a pretty stressful experience, especially following a bad accident. Luckily, you can take steps to make the process run smoothly, so you won't end up paying out of pocket.
Make certain you have collision coverage or roadside assistance from your insurer or another reputable source to help take care of the bill. Always verify that your car is towed to a reputable mechanic instead of a tow yard with daily fees, and if it ends up in a tow yard, get it out as soon as possible.
Most importantly, if you were in an accident, hire an experienced car accident attorney. They can help with all the complicated steps of handling a car accident claim. Your lawyer will make certain you are reimbursed for your rental car, towing, storage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damages. The lawyers at Helping the Hurt will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
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