Is a towing company responsible for car damage that occurs during the towing process?

The moments after a car crash or breakdown can be nerve-racking and vulnerable. It’s important to know what you should expect from the towing company before they arrive. Read on to learn about liability in the case of towing damage.
Nick Valentino

Nick Valentino

VP of Market Operations of Bellhop

With Some Notable Exceptions

In most cases, towing companies are responsible for your vehicle while it is in their care, though there are a few caveats:

You need to be able to prove that the damage happened while the vehicle was being towed. If your car was in a crash and then got towed, the company could easily claim that the damage happened in the crash, or that the damage was inevitable due to damage suffered in the crash.

Likewise, if your car is towed to the lot of an auto shop or similar facility, neither the towing company nor the auto shop will be liable for damage to your car that happens in their lot, especially after hours.

If your tow truck is involved in a crash while your car is being towed, fault could lie with other drivers involved in the crash.

If you somehow fail to communicate or cooperate with the tow truck operator, you could potentially be responsible for the damage yourself.

Yes, As Long As You Disclosed Your Car’s Condition

The short answer here is yes. Towing companies are responsible for damage to your car during the towing process. They are generally obligated to exercise due care when handling your property. Even if they have a blanket waiver stating they are not responsible for damage to the vehicle, these often don’t stand up in court.

There are a few exceptions here: You could be liable for the damage if you interfered with the tow truck operator in any way or failed to disclose information about the car’s condition. If you’re getting towed because your rear wheels aren’t working properly, for example, and those wheels fail while the car is being towed, that could be on you. Likewise, if another driver on the road hits the tow truck or your car while it’s being towed, they would likely be liable for the damage.

Ben Michael

Ben Michael

Director of Auto, Michael & Associates
Nick Musica

Nick Musica

Liability Depends on Several Factors

The liability for any damage sustained during towing ultimately depends on several factors. Firstly, it’s important to consider whether the towing company was negligent in their handling of your vehicle. Were they using appropriate equipment and techniques? Did they secure your car properly before transporting it? If there is evidence of negligence on their part, then it is likely that they will be held liable for any resulting damage.

However, if your car suffered pre-existing damage or mechanical issues that were exacerbated during transport, then you may be responsible for those repairs instead. Ultimately, determining liability requires a careful analysis of all relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the incident in question. As such, it’s best to consult with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through this process and ensure that your rights are protected at every step along the way.

Yes, if The damage is Due to Negligence

The towing company may be responsible for damage to your car that occurs during towing.

Usually, in order for a company to be responsible for property damage that it causes when providing a service, it has to perform that service negligently in some way. For example, if the damage to your vehicle occurred because the towing company improperly hooked your vehicle up to their tow truck, they would likely be responsible for the damage.

However, if your vehicle were damaged while being towed and the damage were not caused by the negligence of the towing company, then the towing company would probably not be responsible based solely on the fact that your vehicle was in their possession. For example, if your vehicle is being towed and [a] third party solely causes an accident that damages your vehicle, it would be the third party and not the towing company that is responsible.

The other thing to consider in situations like this is whether the terms of the contract that you entered into with the towing company limited the towing company’s liability in some way. If you signed a document authorizing the tow, you likely agreed to a series of terms of conditions – some of which may have been fine print that you did not read carefully. It is possible that, in those terms and conditions, you agreed that you would release the towing company from liability for one or more types of act on their part. Though there are some exceptions to this general rule, in many instances liability waivers of this nature will be enforceable, and these liability waivers could reduce or eliminate responsibility that the towing company would have for damage to your car.

Ryan D. Byers

Ryan D. Byers

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