Tow vehicles have become virtually synonymous with rescue vehicles on the road. Drivers rely on them to recover and tow their cars after an accident or a breakdown. Because of this, it is common to see tow trucks at accident scenes. Sadly, sometimes negligence can lead to tow trucks causing accidents instead of helping people recover from them. If this happens to you, what are your options? Is it worth hiring an attorney to handle your case?
Tow Truck Accident Injuries and Death
Tow trucks are bigger than most vehicles on the road. Consequently, they feature many of the same accident risks as commercial trucks. For these and other reasons, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not differentiate between tow trucks and other types.
It reports that more than 4,000 people died in 2020 after crashes involving large trucks. In 85% of these cases, the deceased were occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists.
When people survive tow truck crashes, they often suffer serious injuries and face a high risk of later disability. Here are some common injuries people may sustain in these crashes:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal organ damage
Main Types of Tow Truck Accidents
When you hire an attorney to handle your tow truck accident case, he or she will likely try to reconstruct the accident. These efforts begin with first trying to identify the type of accident. There are many types of tow truck accidents involving other vehicles, but some of the most common include the following:
- Rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle parks, stops or slows down and another vehicle crashes into the back of it. Read-end collisions can also happen when speeding vehicles crash into others traveling at normal speeds.
- Head-on collisions occur when a tow truck travels in one direction and crashes with another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. These accidents typically involve someone overtaking in the opposite lane or drifting into oncoming traffic due to impairment.
- T-bone collisions occur when one vehicle crashes into the side of another. They typically happen at busy intersections. Thankfully, tow trucks are not as low as semi-trucks, so underrides are less likely.
Accidents involving pedestrians and other road users do not fall into these categories. For example, pedestrians can sustain injuries if a tow truck fails to stop at a crosswalk. Similarly, cyclists may face injuries if a tow truck accidentally drifts into the bike lane.
Causes of Tow Truck Accidents
Tow truck crashes occur for many of the same reasons involving other vehicles on the road. However, some factors are unique to tow trucks and other vehicles like them. Consider these potential reasons:
- Impaired driving: Most people know better than to get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but others take the risk and cause accidents. Exhaustion can also play a role, as drivers often work long hours.
- Improper towing: Tow trucks often carry heavy loads, making them difficult to control. Drivers must observe special rules of the road as they move towed vehicles from place to place. If a driver fails to do this and causes an accident, you may be able to hold him or her liable for your injuries.
- Defective equipment: Every tow truck must meet specific safety standards. If a driver uses faulty equipment and causes an accident, the operating company may be liable for damages.
- Road rage: People in all types of vehicles may experience road rage. Tow truck drivers might act out of anger and make poor decisions, leading to accidents. Road rage from other drivers can also cause accidents, especially while trying to maneuver out of their way.
- Reckless driving: Reckless driving is a significant cause of tow truck accidents. Drivers may speed, weave in and out of traffic or fail to signal when changing lanes. If these actions cause an accident, they could be liable for your injuries.
What Damages Injured Persons Might Receive
The catastrophic nature of tow truck accidents could cause claims for either personal injury or wrongful death. Persons involved in the accident pursue compensation for their losses. Wrongful death cases require eligible survivors to file a claim on behalf of the deceased to receive compensation for the loss of life. Compensation may include funeral, burial and cremation expenses.
If you have been injured in a tow truck accident, these are some examples of the damages you could receive:
- Medical expenses: These damages cover the cost of medical care for injuries, including follow-up rehabilitation services. You may even file a claim for in-home care services related to disabilities.
- Lost wages: These damages cover the income you lost due to your injuries. Your attorney may need to review past pay stubs, invoices or tax returns to create an estimate.
- Pain and suffering: These damages compensate you for the emotional distress, depression and anxiety related to your injuries. The more life-changing your injuries, the greater the value ascribed to this.
- Loss of consortium: These damages account for the loss of companionship, affection or intimacy you suffered due to your injuries. For example, long-term hospitalization could interrupt planned visitations with a spouse who temporarily works overseas.
- Punitive damages: The judge or jury may award punitive damages to punish the negligent party. The goal is to set an example and discourage others from repeating the behavior. This can tack six or more figures onto your compensation, depending on the original value of the case.
Why People Need Attorneys
Personal injury cases can become incredibly complex in California, especially when they involve commercial trucking companies. While tow trucks sometimes fall into a different class than semi-trucks, they still require commercial insurance and these drivers work as independent contractors or for a company. That commercial entity can significantly complicate matters. Here are some additional reasons people should hire attorneys for these cases.
Trucking companies and insurance providers have legal teams.
Most will lawyer up to protect themselves when you go up against corporations and request thousands or millions of dollars in compensation. That does not mean they want to go to court, but you may need to hire an attorney to level the playing field. Otherwise, they might leverage the imbalance of power and professional knowledge to pay less than the case deserves.
You may improve your odds while reducing risks.
Unlike most other areas of law, you don't need to pay your attorney upfront. Most personal injury law firms work on a contingency basis, so they only get paid when you do. That reduces your financial risk and motivates your attorney to work even harder on your case for a favorable outcome.
Your main focus should be getting better.
It can take a long time to recover from injuries and get your finances back on track after a tow truck accident. Trying to tackle that while navigating complex personal injury laws might not be feasible. Working with an attorney allows you to focus on more critical areas of your health and personal life while we focus on getting you the compensation your case deserves.
Why Choose Johnson Attorneys Group for Your Case
We have recovered more than $100 million for our clients. Past performance does not guarantee future results, but it indicates what you may reasonably expect from our attorneys. We work diligently and consider all potential opportunities for securing your desired outcomes. Our team starts by thoroughly reviewing your case and providing an estimate that helps you set realistic expectations. Are you ready to get started? Contact the JAG team today.