If my car was damaged after being impounded, what are my rights?

My car was working fine when I got a ticket. My licensee was expired, so the officer told me that it was going to be impounded. I left the car, went back to work, and over the last 4 days paid liscense, registration tickets, auto, etc. (now have everything taken care of). Today when I went to pick up the car, I paid $600 in impound fees. As the employee got into drive the car to me, I was watching and it wouldn’t reverse. I don’t know what’s wrong with my car but its not working properly. The impound lot calimed that it never reversed my car. What to do?

Asked on March 30, 2011 under General Practice, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you can prove that the towing service and/or impound yard damaged your car, you can sue them for the cost of repairs; when someone either negligently (carelessly)  or intentionally damages your property, they may be liable for it. If either the wrecker or yard is a municipal entity (part  of the city government; not a private entity simply being contracted to the city), then you should take action *immediately*--there are  often many restrictions on suing a municipal (or county or state, for that matter) entity, including having to file a notice of claim in a very short period of time. (There are also other requirements or limitations that make it more difficult than suing a private party, so you really should have a lawyer's assistance.)

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