Tow trucks are commonplace on the road, acting as heroes for those of us stranded with an inoperable vehicle or villains for those that have their vehicles towed without warning or due to repossession.
There are times that tow trucks can also be the cause of motor vehicle accidents. Tow truck accidents statistically fall under the number of truck accidents recorded each year. Injury Facts reports that, in 2018, 4,862 large trucks were involved in a fatal accident, with large trucks accounting for 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents.
As for injury-related crashes, 112,000 large trucks were involved, some of which were caused by tow trucks. So, when a tow truck is involved in a motor vehicle accident, can they be held liable for injuries sustained by the victim?
Types of tow trucks
Before explaining the types of injuries that can be incurred from a tow truck accident and the reasons behind them, you should know the following types of tow trucks:
- Flatbeds or rollback trucks. Flatbed tow trucks are the most common tow trucks you’ll see on the road. They are simply trucks that have a long flatbed that can shift up and down to make a ramp.
- Heavy-duty or integrated trucks. These tow trucks are for heavy-duty transporting. They normally tow other rigs, busses, or other large vehicles.
- Hook and chain trucks. Hook and chain are all-purpose vehicles. There are fewer of these trucks nowadays since the chains have been known to damage the vehicle. These tow trucks are typically for unsalvageable vehicles.
- Wheel-lift trucks. Wheel-lift tow trucks are similar to hook and chain trucks but use a metal yoke to tow the vehicle, as it causes less damage.
Types of tow truck accident injuries
An accident with a tow truck can lead to several injuries, some of which may be short-term and some that may be lifelong.
The following are common injuries sustained from a tow truck crash:
- Infections from cuts or any open wounds
- Muscle damages, such as sprains
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal and spinal cord injuries
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
Causes of tow truck injuries
- Maintenance neglect. If maintenance on a tow truck is neglected, then potential issues may lead to an accident. The hydraulic system, engine, and suspensions are some parts that should be checked before setting out for duty.
- Mechanical or equipment failure. Unfortunately, mechanical and equipment failures do happen, and they can increase the risk of an accident. An engine failure can occur or a belt that latched onto the vehicle being towed could snap in the middle of a transport, causing the towed vehicle to fall off the bed into the center of the highway.
- Driving while under the influence. Some tow truck drivers may operate their tow truck while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Such substances impact the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle, raising the risk of a motor vehicle accident.
- Driver error. Sometimes, tow truck drivers make driving errors. For instance, they may turn a corner too sharply, causing the tow truck to tip and a vehicle to rear-end the tow truck.
- Fatigue. Many truck drivers suffer from driving fatigue, which is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
Who can be held liable?
There are several entities that can be held liable if you’ve gotten into an accident with a tow truck driver. However, it should be noted that tow truck drivers usually carry specific and hefty liability insurance.
On the likelihood that the driver has no insurance or if the damages exceed the liability cap on insurance, then the following parties can be pursued:
- The company that employed the driver. Typically, if someone has been injured by a tow truck driver, then the driver would share liability with the company they work for.
- The driver. The driver who directly caused the accident would be held liable for all damages incurred by the victim.
- The manufacturer. If an equipment or mechanical failure is to blame, then you can hold the manufacturer accountable for the accident. However, proving that the accident and your injuries were the fault of a mechanical error is difficult.
Seek help from a personal injury attorney
While unlikely, you could find yourself in an accident with a tow truck driver. You may sustain a variety of injuries, including broken bones or a traumatic brain injury. You may be forced to take time off work (or you could lose your job entirely), and your quality of life may decrease. You’ll also be responsible for medical bills and other expenses.
Fighting for monetary compensation that you deserve is a difficult, arduous process that you shouldn’t tackle solo. Instead, you should consult a personal injury attorney who will work with you throughout the entire process, ensuring that you have the necessary evidence and documents and to represent you so you’ll have the greatest chance of winning your case – as you focus on resting and recovering.