If your car breaks down on a busy Massachusetts highway like I-84 or I-90, you may require a tow truck. When you see its flashing lights approaching, you might feel relieved that help has arrived. Though tow trucks can seem like your salvation in such instances, they also could become your worst nightmare.
If you were injured in a tow truck accident, you understand the devastating consequences. What’s more, you know you need help to file and resolve a successful legal claim that can get you the compensation you need to recover both physically and emotionally.
Get the peace of mind you need by talking to Jason Stone Injury Lawyers. In person, by phone, by video chat, or through messaging, we are ready to communicate in the way that makes you most comfortable.
Our team members are familiar with Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and federal laws so you can ask us your legal questions with confidence. Best yet, There’s No Obligation, Just Information® when you consult us. To schedule a session with us, visit us at one of our New England offices or call us toll-free at (800) 577-5188.
How Tow Trucks Can Damage Your Car
Since tow trucks perform different jobs, you might encounter various models. Four of the most common are the following.
Chain and hook
Some wreckers feature a strong hook and chain that attach underneath the towed vehicle. While the front of the car is lifted, the back drags on the ground.
Flatbed trucks are so named because they have a platform called a bed. The tow truck uses a mechanical system to lower its bed at an angle. Next, the bed functions as a ramp. Cars can drive or be towed onto the platform. Once a vehicle is loaded and secured with chains, the flatbed lowers.
Boom tow trucks are used in rescue missions, such as when a car is stuck in a ditch or body of water. A long apparatus called a boom extends from the back of the tow truck. A rubber sling at the end of the boom secures the vehicle. Finally, the boom lifts the car up and out of its position.
Integrated tow trucks are automated vehicles. The driver uses a control panel to position the boom and lift the wheels.
These useful service vehicles can cause property damage. For instance, if a chain-and-hook tow truck drags a four-wheel-drive automobile, it can ruin the transmission. Towing any car for long distances can cause uneven wear-and-tear on the rear tires.
Why Tow Trucks Are Dangerous
Besides damaging vehicles, tow trucks can also injure people. In 2015, there were 422 collisions involving stopped emergency and maintenance vehicles in Massachusetts. How might tow truck accidents occur, and what characteristics pose dangers to other motorists?
Vehicles could become unsecured
Some cars are attached to towing vehicles with chains. If the tow truck has a bracket system, steel beams fit around tires held in place with steel pins.
A towed vehicle could come loose if a tow truck driver makes a mistake or a mechanical part breaks. If it falls on someone, on something, or in the path of another car, severe injuries would likely result.
As a tow truck driver rushes to connect a repossessed or illegally parked vehicle, he or she could make a mistake. Yet, being in a hurry is no excuse to jeopardize the health and safety of others. Personal injury attorneys can help you pursue justice if a negligent driver caused your tow truck accident.
A towing company might categorize its trucks as light, medium, heavy-duty, or super heavy-duty. A tow truck could weigh from 14,000 to 52,000 pounds or more.
If a tow truck has a hitch or boom attached in the back, it can cause grave injury to the occupants of any vehicle that strikes it. A rear-end collision with a tow truck could cause whiplash or chronic neck pain.
Driver Error and Negligence: The Reasons Behind Many Accidents
Being a tow truck driver is not easy. Good training and safety practices are essential to keeping others safe. Yet, many tow truck accidents occur when drivers make mistakes.
To get to the scene of a collision, for example, a tow truck driver might drive on the shoulder of the highway. When heading out for an emergency tow, a truck should always have its flashing lights on to alert other drivers. Tow truck drivers must consider the safety of others when in service.
Massachusetts’ Safe Driving Law bans “sending, typing or reading electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle.” Cell phones are one of the biggest distractors, but they are not the only thing that might sidetrack tow truck drivers. Potential distractors include:
- Phones and other technology
- Maps and GPS devices
- Dispatch equipment
- Dials and controls
If tow truck drivers are doing anything that could distract them while driving, they might be liable for causing an accident they get into at the time.
It is illegal for passenger vehicle drivers to have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or greater in Massachusetts. The BAC of commercial vehicle drivers, though, should not exceed 0.04 percent. Drugs, including those listed below, can impair tow truck drivers’ ability to operate a vehicle.
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter medication
In Massachusetts, tow truck drivers could be convicted of a DUI if any of the substances mentioned above are found in their system.
Tow truck drivers might have to answer the call of duty late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Long hours, swing shifts, and even daylight savings time can add to the challenge of this demanding job. An estimated 1 in 5 US motor vehicle fatalities involves a drowsy driver.
Some states have different speed limits for wreckers. However, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, towing trucks must obey the same speed limits that other vehicles do. If there is no posted speed limit, cars should not exceed 50 mph on a divided highway nor 40 mph on an undivided road.
In thickly settled residential areas or business districts like downtown Boston or Salem, no car should exceed 30 mph. The limit for school zones is 20 mph. Trucks might also need to slow for construction work.
A tow truck driver might try to justify breaking speed limits and traffic laws. Yet, statistics don’t lie about the danger of this negligent practice. Excess speed was a factor in 78 fatal collisions in 2018.
Massachusetts laws are in place to protect your rights. If you were a victim of driver error or negligence in Massachusetts, fill out our brief contact form today.
Getting Insurance Compensation for a Tow Truck Accident
You must have auto insurance to register a car in Massachusetts. The following four coverages are mandatory:
- Bodily injury liability: This protection applies when you or someone you allow to drive your car accidentally causes injury or death to a third party.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): PIP covers medical expenses, lost wages, and replacement services. PIP applies regardless of whose fault the accident was.
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): This coverage covers losses caused by an uninsured or unidentified driver. If you were the victim of a hit and run, you could qualify to receive up to $40,000.
- Property damage: This protection pays for damage to another car or property.
Some policies offer additional, optional benefits:
- Car rental
- Towing and labor
- Accident forgiveness
- Roadside assistance
- Auto loan coverage if your car is totaled while you still owe payments
- Pet coverage
- Comprehensive collision coverage
Car insurance policies are often written in language that is hard to understand, but don’t let this hold you back from pursuing a legal claim. Our experienced tow truck collision attorneys can help you discover all the benefits covered by your insurance policy. Call us for a free case review at (800) 577-5188.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
What about tow truck accidents that result from mechanical failure or other outside factors? You could be eligible to file a product or premises liability claim. In that case, a capable lawyer can help you protect your rights. Not every lawsuit ends up in court, but if it does, our attorneys can help you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries, namely:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Punitive damages
If you lost a relative in an accident, you could seek damages on behalf of your loved one. A wrongful death claim might compensate for burial costs, loss of financial support, and loss of companionship.
You have our guarantee for all of our personal injury cases: Your initial consultation is free, and there is no pressure to hire us. But, if you allow us to represent your legal needs, you pay only when we win compensation for you.
There’s No Obligation, Just Information®
Does a towing company seem to be ignoring you? Have you experienced delays or received claim rejection notices from your insurance company? Since 2004, Jason Stone Injury Lawyers has pursued and secured maximum compensation for residents of Massachusetts.
Our law firm can help you seek damages for tow truck accidents, but make sure to contact us as soon as possible. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts sets a time limit on how long you have to file a personal injury claim.
Better Phone Stone® without delay at (800) 577-5188. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or, if you want us to reach out online, send us a message, and we will get in contact right away.