If your car breaks down and you are stranded by the side of the road, a tow truck is a sight for sore eyes. However, if you are cruising down the highway and one pulls off the shoulder in front of you, it’s not such a welcome sight. While collisions with tow trucks are not very common, the more you know about handling it, if it does happen, the better off you will be. The most important thing to know is that a New Mexico personal injury attorney who handles commercial truck crashes is the first person you should call.
How Tow Truck Crashes Could Happen
Fortunately, most tow truck drivers are properly trained, competent, and conscientious about safety. But accidents do happen, and sometimes they are caused by negligence on the part of the tow truck driver or towing company. Collisions between tow trucks and cars can happen in the following situations:
- Pulling on or off the road. Tow trucks are often called to assist stranded vehicles on the side of a busy highway. Pulling out of traffic to attend to the disabled car or back into traffic while towing the car requires vigilance, patience, and extreme caution. If your travel lane is obstructed by a tow truck pulling on or off, you could find it impossible to avoid a collision, and the tow truck driver would be at fault.
- Assisting a stranded vehicle. A tow truck needs to be fully pulled off the road, and the driver needs to make sure they are far from traffic lanes as they are hooking up the disabled vehicle. This is for their own safety but also for the safety of cars passing by. If a tow truck is too close to the road or is not using safety lights at night, the driver could be at fault if a crash occurs.
- Hooking up the vehicle. If a disabled vehicle is not properly hooked up to a hook-and-chain tow truck or not adequately secured to a flatbed, it can become separated during travel and create a dangerous hazard for other cars on the road. The tow truck driver is responsible for ensuring that the towed car is fully secured.
- Driver distraction, fatigue, or impairment. As with any driver, tow truck drivers can make dangerous mistakes when they are distracted by a cell phone, overtired, or impaired by drugs or alcohol. If one of these negligent behaviors was the root cause of a crash, the driver should be held accountable.
- Poor maintenance. Maintenance and inspection of the tow truck is often the responsibility of the tow truck company. If the driver did everything by the book, but a worn tire, broken coupling, faulty brakes, or other mechanical issue caused the crash, the owner of the company should be found at fault for the crash. However, tow trucks are often owned and operated by the same person, so in those cases, the driver would still be at fault.
Tow trucks are heavy vehicles, and when they are hauling another vehicle, they are also unwieldy. Tow truck drivers have a duty of care to other drivers, meaning they are required to safely operate their vehicle and correctly follow procedures and protocols for assisting stranded motorists and hooking up disabled cars. When they violate this duty, they—and sometimes their employer—can be held accountable for the injuries you suffer in a crash with them.Start a Live Chat