November 3, 2020
Your car was totalled in a serious accident. You’re juggling medical bills, phone calls with your insurance company, all while looking for a new vehicle. Then a bill for a tow truck gets dropped in your lap. Your totalled car is still in storage and is racking up costs. Do you really have to pay towing fees when you didn’t even cause the car accident?
In fault states like Indiana, the at-fault driver is responsible for towing fees after a serious car accident. But no matter who plays, it is very important to get your car out of storage as soon as possible. If you weren’t at fault but do not recover your vehicle, your claim could be affected.
Towing fees in a fault state
Responsibility for tow truck fees fees changes if the collision took place in a fault state or no-fault state. In no-fault states, everyone involved in a car accident is responsible for their own property damage, medical bills, and other losses, regardless of who actually caused the accident. But in fault states, the driver who is most at fault for causing the accident – or is 51 percent or more at fault – is responsible for the other party’s damages. The amount of fault you have for an accident also affects how much damages you can recover.
Indiana is a fault state. The driver with the majority of fault for the collision should cover costs for the tow truck and storage fees. If the car accident happened in a no-fault state like Michigan or Kentucky, everyone would pay for their towing fees.
Regardless of where you live, you should check your car insurance policy to make sure it covers towing fees. Some plans only cover it if you have a roadside assistance plan.
If you are at fault, you pay towing costs
Like we said, the at-fault driver is responsible for tow truck costs. You and by proxy your insurer will pay for the towing and storage for any vehicles that need towing if you caused the accident. This is why it is so crucial to have auto insurance – not only is it illegal to drive without insurance in Indiana, but without coverage, any costs from an at-fault collision will have to come out of your pocket.
If you are not at fault, they pay towing costs
You shouldn’t have to pay for property damage that you didn’t cause. The at-fault driver’s insurance will pay for towing and storage, which is why it is so important to get the at-fault driver’s insurance and contact information.
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance, you will need to use the uninsured/underinsured coverage on your own policy to cover the storage bill. Once that runs out, you’ll need to use your own money.
What to do when your vehicle gets towed after an accident
Towing and storage cost can run into the hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. It is best for everyone to get your car out of storage as soon as possible once the at-fault insurance has had a chance to assess the damage. In tort law (this includes personal injury lawsuits), the mitigation of damages rule says that you must use reasonable care to minimize or avoid further loss. If you leave your car in the tow yard for longer than the insurance company thinks is necessary, they could refuse to pay towing fees – leaving you with the bill, even though their client was the one who caused your car to end up in a junkyard anyway.
You can request that your car be towed to a trusted mechanic instead of the salvage yard. Wherever it goes, your vehicle must remain untouched until insurance can assess it.
Getting your car out of storage may feel like an afterthought, especially when you’re dealing with catastrophic injuries. But it is in your best interest to get your car out of storage as soon as possible after a car accident. That way, you won’t be accidentally stuck with a massive bill.
What if my car was totalled?
In Indiana, a vehicle is considered a total loss if the cost of repairs exceeds 70 percent of the vehicle’s total value. Once you file a claim with your insurance, they will determine whether your vehicle was a total loss and payout the total cash value of the vehicle minus your deductible. They may also be able to pay for a rental car while you search for a new vehicle.
Comprehensive and collision coverage helps pay for the loss of your vehicle regardless of fault. This coverage is not required on all policies, so it is a good idea to check if you have it, especially if you are leasing a new vehicle or are still paying off your old one.
Towing fees, storage costs, and loss of your vehicle are part of the property damage side of insurance claims. Property damage is fairly straightforward and you do not usually need an attorney to handle property damage claims. However, if you have hired a personal injury attorney, they can usually provide guidance on your property damage claim.
Beware of Shady Insurance Tactics
Insurance companies will do nearly anything to avoid paying out a fair personal injury settlement. They will examine your cell phone data, your medical history, and your social media for any excuse to lowball an offer. Are you posting on Instagram about going out with friends? Well, if you’re well enough to go out with friends then you must not actually need physical therapy, so they won’t cover it. Do you have an old injury that was made worse by the car accident? They shouldn’t have to pay for your medical bills – you were already injured. As personal injury attorneys, we hear these types of excuses all the time from insurance companies. The truth is that no matter how much they complain or try to blame you for their client’s negligence, you still deserve compensation.
We work with our clients throughout the entire claims process. We communicate with insurance on your behalf and fight for the settlement you deserve. You shouldn’t have to deal with this alone. If you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group can help. Call, text, or contact us online for a free consultation.