“Know your rights. Know your tow.” – Great Advice In a Car Accident
The Waterloo Regional Polices Service (WRPS) recently shared a tweet that reminded people that if you are in an accident you have the right to refuse the first tow on the scene. Some tow truck companies, particularly in the GTAA on the 400 series corridor do not operate ethically or legally. They are known to be predatory in a time when you as the driver may be in an extremely vulnerable situation.
We have all heard and seen the stories of multiple tow trucks showing up on the scene of car crashes on the 400 series of highways in the event of an accident. While many tow truck companies and drivers are ethical and reputable, some aren’t. These can make your bad situation even worse. Sometimes there is pressure from police on the scene of an accident to ‘get your car off the road’ to clear up traffic jams and backlogs. Drivers often end up using a company they have not heard of and didn’t call.
Not all tow truck companies are on the scene to help you. They have been known to ask for a cash payment before unhooking vehicles, to demand exorbitant fees for unhooking, towing or releasing your cars from their secure lots. In some cases, contents from cars go missing. The drivers can be intimidating or threatening when you are in a vulnerable state post-accident.
‘Chaser’ tow truck drivers are aggressive and will attempt to tow your vehicle to a preferred impound or repair facility from which they get a financial benefit for the delivery of your car. This is illegal. If you are close to home you should ask for your car to be taken to your preferred repair facility.
Have you been in a car accident? Here is what you need to know:
- If you are in a crash don’t just ‘give’ your car to anyone.
- You have the right to refuse the first tow on the scene and to call your preferred towing company (CAA for example).
- Pick from a list of pre-approved towing companies from the WRPS if you are in the region. They are reputable firms that are screened and follow an approved fee schedule.
- You are entitled to a receipt for your tow. You may also be able to claim that tow fee as part of your insurance claim.
- NEVER sign a contract for your vehicle tow.
Tow truck operators must abide by the law. The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 outlines your rights. On January 1, 207 the Act was revised and requires that tow truck drivers must:
- Have your permission (or someone acting on your behalf) to tow or store your vehicle.
- Publicly disclose their rates and their name and phone number. The name and number must be on tow trucks and their places of business.
- They must accept credit card payments and issue receipts. THEY CANNOT DEMAND CASH.
- Inform you of where your car will be towed to.
- You must be allowed to access your towed vehicle to retrieve personal belongings at no charge on business days from 8 am to 8 pm.
- The invoice they provide must itemize all charges for the services provided before you pay.
- The tow truck company must disclose if they are receiving any financial benefit or incentive for towing your car to a repair shop or storage facility.
If you have been injured in a car accident you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure your rights and your future are protected. There are rigid timelines for making insurance and legal claims. Don’t face your situation alone. You can reach us at Deutschmann Law for a free initial consultation at 1.866.414.4878.