Tow Truck Accident Laws
If you have been in a tow truck accident, it is important to understand how the laws work in Washington State with respect to these accidents. First, it is important to understand that it is almost always best to bring a claim against the tow truck company and not the tow truck driver. Obviously, the company that employs the driver will have much more money and it will be easier to get money from the insurance company that employs the tow truck company. In addition, depending on the circumstances of the case, it is also likely that the tow truck company is either wholly or in part to blame for your injuries. The most common reasons for a tow truck company’s reason for being at fault for the accident are as follows:
- Failing to properly maintain the truck’s brakes
- Failing to properly maintain the truck’s tires
- Failing to consistently inspect the vehicle for defects
- Failing to make sure the vehicle complies with Washington State laws
- Failing to properly hire and train a driver.
If the truck company has done one or all of these things, then it is very likely that they are partly to blame for the accident since they have a duty, which is known as a non-delegable duty, to make sure that their vehicles are properly maintained and safe for their drivers. The last bullet point concerned properly hiring, training, and supervising a driver. Operating a tow truck is not as easy as it may sound. These vehicles are much larger and more difficult to operate than normal vehicles. Drivers who operate need to have many hours of training to make sure they are properly trained, insured, and licensed.
In regards to insurance, there are specific Washington State laws that apply to this. First, in order for a tow truck to be on the road in Seattle, Kirkland, and the State of Washington, the truck must have insurance. RCW 46.55.030 states that a tow truck company must have at least $100,000 in insurance coverage available.
What does this mean? This means that if you are involved in an accident with a tow truck company, the company’s maximum amount that they have to pay out, under Washington State law, is $100,000.00. To be clear, it may very well be that the tow truck company has purchased more than $100,000 in insurance—they could purchase $200,000 or two million—but the minimum to be on the road is $100,000. In some cases, as you might imagine, this minimum amount of insurance may not be enough to cover your damages, especially if you’ve had a serious accident, with large medical bills and considerable wage loss.
In some cases, then, if there is only $100,000 in insurance coverage available, it may be prudent to try to obtain money form the at-fault driver who caused the accident. The most common kinds of reasons for a tow truck driver causing your accident are:
- Driver fatigue
- Driver distraction
- Driver inattention
- Driver inexperience
- Driver intoxication
Any of these reasons can lead to a very serious truck accident that can result in deadly injuries to someone. It is important to also understand the kinds of tow trucks that are on the road. There are four common ones.
The first one is a flatbed truck. These kinds of trucks have a long bed for the vehicle to be lifted onto. Hydraulics allow the bed to go up and down. These kinds of tow trucks are among the safest on the road.
The second is what is known as an integrated tow truck. They are very heavy and commonly employed to carry large vehicles, such as buses and 18-wheelers. They are extremely heavy vehicles.
The third is known as a hook and chain tow truck. These are not as common as they once were and they are used to tow cars to junk yards and scrap yards. There is literally a hook that attaches to a chain that is being used to tow the car. They are not as widely used and when they are used, they are usually used to transport a car to a junk yard because the hook that latches onto the car frequently does damage to the car.
The third kind of tow truck is known as a wheel-lift tow truck. These trucks inflict less damage than the hook and chain tow truck. The chain, or yoke as it is commonly known, goes under the front of the wheels.Common Tow Truck Injuries
If you have been in an accident with a tow truck, you are likely facing significant injuries, among the most common are:
- Broken bones
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Ruptured discs
Regardless of the kinds of injuries you have suffered in a tow truck accident, the most important thing you can do is to seek appropriate medical care. The most common kinds of doctors that treat tow truck injuries are primary physicians, osteopaths, and chiropractors, but massage therapists and orthopedic doctors are also very good at helping people.How The Jackman Law Firm can Help
If you have been injured in a tow truck accident, you have some options available to you. You can attempt to settle your claim out of court or you can file a lawsuit against the tow truck company and driver. In either situation, here are the following things you can recover from the at-fault insurance company:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Money for pain and suffering
- Money for out of pocket expenses
If the insurance company for the at-fault tow truck company will not pay you for what you deserve for your injuries, then you may very well have a case against them that is worth filing in court because, legally speaking, you have the right to recover these damages. Oftentimes, however, the insurance company for the tow truck will not pay you for what you deserve, or, even worse, they may attempt to argue that you caused the accident. If this happens, the Jackman Law Firm can help you obtain the compensation you are owed by proving that the at-fault driver’s insurance company is simply wrong and prove liability.
The Jackman Law Firm can help accomplish this by interviewing witnesses, speaking to the police, obtaining surveillance footage of the accident, if it exists, and putting on a strong case that shows you were not at fault. Feel free to call The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your options.