While most of us just think of tow trucks as being used to help us when our vehicles are in need, just like any other vehicle on the road, tow trucks can be involved in car accidents. As large and heavy vehicles, tow trucks have the potential to cause serious damage to other vehicles with their serious force of impact. Since tow trucks are commonly found on busy Houston streets and highways, while often helping motorists they can also cause motor vehicle accidents. There are several different types of tow trucks, including flatbeds, rollbacks, rotator, heavy-duty, hook and chain, integrated, and wheel-lift. The structures of each type of tow truck can influence what happens when a tow truck cases a car accident.
Common Causes of Tow Truck Accidents
There are many different types of tow truck accidents, depending on how the truck hits another vehicle. Some of the most common types include sideswipes, rear-end accidents, T-bone accidents, head-on collisions, and blind-spot crashes. The most common causes of these accidents include:
- Driver Error: Bad driving behaviors like speeding account for nearly one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. Speeding is especially dangerous for large trucks because the faster they go, the longer it takes them to stop and the more likely the driver is to lose control of the vehicle. Distracted driving also contributes to numerous accidents.
- Driving Under the Influence: Tow truck drivers get called even when they have other plans, including drinking with friends or family. Unfortunately, this can lead to drinking and driving, especially around holidays and other celebrations.
- Driver Fatigue: Tow truck drivers have to respond to roadway accidents at all hours, day and night – often getting called out of their beds to help with a nighttime accident. As a result, tow truck drivers can suffer from driver fatigue out on the road.
- Mechanical Malfunction: A truck can only be as safe as its parts. Equipment failure causes numerous preventable roadway accidents every year. Brakes are the most common malfunction, but tire issues, transmission failure, and steering problems are also extremely problematic.
- Inadequate Inspection and Maintenance: The vehicle being towed may get away from the tow truck due to improperly inspected, maintained, and/or used equipment.
Tow Truck Crash Liability
Several different entities can potentially be held liable if you’ve gotten into an accident with a tow truck driver. While the law requires tow truck drivers to carry a certain amount and type of insurance, some still don’t. Texas requires applicants for tow truck permits to maintain insurance based on the work they will be doing, including:
- Incident management towing insurance: Carrying at least $500,000 in liability insurance per tow truck per incident and a minimum of $50,000 of cargo or cargo on-hook insurance per tow truck per incident.
- Private property towing insurance: Carrying at least $300,000 worth of liability insurance per tow truck per incident and a minimum of $50,000 of cargo or cargo on-hook insurance per tow truck per incident.
- Consent towing insurance: Carrying at least $300,000 worth of liability insurance per tow truck per incident.
If the at-fault driver has no insurance or if the damages exceed the available insurance coverage, the following potentially responsible parties should be considered liable for your tow truck accident injuries:
- The company that employed the tow truck driver or owns the tow truck: The at-fault tow truck driver shares liability with the company they work for or that owns the vehicle. Towing companies are responsible for inspecting, maintaining, and ensuring their vehicles are roadway ready. They are also responsible for vetting, hiring, and training experienced and safe tow truck drivers.
- The tow truck driver: The driver who caused the auto accident can be held liable for the resulting damages suffered by the car wreck victim. Some examples of why include following too closely, speeding, not obeying traffic laws, and failing to properly secure a vehicle they are towing for transport.
- The tow truck manufacturer: If an equipment or mechanical failure caused or contributed to a tow truck accident, then you can take legal action to hold the manufacturer responsible for your damages.
Tow Truck Accident Lawyers
The experienced motor vehicle accident lawyers of Dax F. Garza, P.C. have successfully handled all types of roadway collision claims, including those against commercial drivers and the companies that employ them. Houstonians drive along a lot of roads, but no one should fear their life changing forever because of negligent tow truck drivers or the companies that employ them. It’s important to roadway safety for everyone that injury victims hold the trucking industry accountable for the role its vehicles play in catastrophic and fatal accidents every year. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a tow truck accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Contact our Houston personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.