Is the tow company liable for damage to my car?

UPDATED: Jan 13, 2012

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Is the tow company liable for damage to my car?

My car differential unit was damaged from an improper tow. The tow company filed claim with their insurer and don’t feel at blame. Dealership backs up my claim. All maintenance kept up in past. Car was perfect before. Cost is $2500 to fix. Who is responsible? The driver who never made a statement and whom no longer works there? The tow company who says they towed it on a flat bed tow company’s insurance? Or the chamber of commerce where car was parked with no warning signs? Do I have a case in small claims? Had car checked 2 weeks after tow and again at 2 months. Insurance thinks I waited too long.

Asked on January 13, 2012 under Accident Law, Florida


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The tow company is liable for the damage to your car.  Since the tow company's insurance carrier is denying liability, you will need to sue the tow company for negligence.  The tow company is liable as the registered owner of the tow truck.  The tow company is also liable because an employer is liable for the negligence of an employee (tow truck driver) which occurred during the course and scope of employment.

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable towing company would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (of due care mentioned above), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care by damaging the vehicle when towing it), actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.

Actual cause means but for the car being towed, would the differential have been damaged?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening acts which would relieve the towing company of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages is the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs to your car.  Since the cost of repairs is $2500, you could file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages should also include court costs such as the court filing fee and process server fee.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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