Who is responsible for damages to a car that was towed?

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Who is responsible for damages to a car that was towed?

My car was towed out of my own guest parking the other night. Apparently I was supposed to have some kind of tag in the window displaying my building number. I have asked the building administration to give me one before but they never have. After picking my car back up; I realized that there was a thudding noise as I drove. The wheels now have flat spots probably from being dragged out of the parking spot by the towing guys before being put on a truck. The manager insists that the car was put on dollys before being put on the truck therefore meaning that they are not responsible. The car is 6 months old with less than 5000 miles on it and the towing manager insisted that I was probably due for new tires.

Asked on May 15, 2014 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The towing company is liable for negligence for the damage to your vehicle.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable towing company would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

If the towing company is an employee of your landlord, your landlord is also liable for the damage to your car because an employer is liable for the negligence of an employee (towing company) which occurred during the course and scope of employment.

If the towing company is NOT an employee of your landlord, then your landlord is NOT liable for the negligence of the towing company damaging your car because the towing company is an independent contractor and your landlord is not liable for the negligence of an independent contractor.

Depending on the above, if only the towing company is liable for the damage to the car, it may be possible to settle the case with the insurance carrier for the towing company if the towing company pays for the damage to your car (cost of repairs).

If both the landlord and towing company are liable (if towing company is an employee of landlord), you would have property damage claims to file with the landlord's insurance carrier and the towing company's insurance carrier.  If the case is settled with the insurance carrier(s), NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier(s), reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the landlord and towing company if the towing company is an employee of the landlord.  If the towing company is NOT an employee of the landlord, then only name the towing company as a defendant in your lawsuit for negligence.

Depending on the amount of damage (cost of repairs to your vehicle), you may be able to file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages would include the cost of repairs to your car, cost of a rental car while your car is being repaired (if you need a rental car) and court costs which are the court filing fee and process server fee.

You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting an auto body or tire repair shop whose charges are comparable to other auto body or tire repair shops in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive repair shop you could find, you have failed to mitigate (minimize damages) and your damages will be reduced accordingly.

If you rent a car while your car is being repaired, you will need to mitigate damages by renting a car with a reasonable rate.  If you were to select the most expensive auto rental you could find, you have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordiingly. 


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