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Wrongfully towed new vehicle, who is responsible for damage? Small claims?

San Diego, CA |

On 5/6/12 I bought a 07 Camry in California from dealership. I drove to my apartment rental office and requested an extra parking space until my old car could be towed away in a few days. He wrote down license plate and gave extra space. Also requested not to park my new car in old spot because ongoing construction projects and debris. On 5/10/12 I had voicemail from dealership they could tow away my older vehicle no charge but end of following week. I got approval from rental office. On 5/18/12 the dealership tow truck arrived and towed old car at 5:30PM and I watched him tow it away. Afterwards, I walked by my new car in additional spot and went into my apartment. On 5/19/12 at 1:30PM I left my apartment and walked to parking lot and my 07 Camry was gone. I called apartment rental office and was told it was towed away. Next, I walked into rental office for explanation. I explained my story and was told there was confusion about who owned the vehicle and new tenants had that spot. Next, I called tow company and was told I could get car that day at no cost. A rental office employee drove me to tow yard. I saw car and immediately inspected car and took pictures. There was damage done including front bumper scraped/cracked, left trim panel scuffed up, scratches on rear bumper, splash guard underneath had been damaged and dangling. I signed paperwork and drove car home. Immediately, I parked at the rental office and went into the office and I mentioned damage and requested new parking spot for my new car so it won’t be damaged by construction projects. I was given new spot the following day and have been parking there the past few days.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

It is not clear from your post that caused the damage, whether it was the construction work or the two truck company. You are going to have to prove which of the two caused the damage as it does not appear they were acting in concert. But depending on the type of damage, like undercarriage, that may tell you which party is responsible. Ask your mechanic or body shop for an opinion the cause and get that person to testify on your behalf. Then obtain an estimate for the repairs and submit it to the responsible party or parties. If the claim is denied then bring the appropriate action in small claims court and list appropriate responsible party as defendant(s).

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5 comments

Asker

Posted

Thank you for the valuable feedback! I had to shorten my original story. Yes, the damage was done by the tow truck.

Frank Marvin Nunes

Frank Marvin Nunes

Posted

Make sure you send a demand to the tow truck company in writing, don't waste your time or emotion doing it verbally. Check out www.NoloPress.com for sel-help legal books, like 101 Forms for Personal Use that has a template demand letter.

Asker

Posted

I took your advice and wrote a demand letter with an enclosed estimate of the damages ($995). I gave the tow company 7 days to send payment. The tow company didn't comply with my request, about 2 weeks ago. I did received voicemails from the risk management department of the tow company wanting to talk with me. My car insurance company has now made the claim inactive becuase the risk mgmt wants to talk with me directly. This week I called the tow company and left a voicemail. Yesterday I received a voicemail from the tow company stating they want to me go to the risk mgmt dept on monday and get an estimate. I still dont want the tow company to do the repairs, as it's been almost 2 months since the damages. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Frank Marvin Nunes

Frank Marvin Nunes

Posted

If your insurance company is willing to do the heavy lifting, let them. If not, talk to risk management and present them with the basis for your value of the claim. If they give you any resistance, file suit in small claims. Do noted their adjuster testify. He is not a witness or an expert.

Asker

Posted

Thanks for the valuable feedback.  I have worked on this project for 5 months now.  I had to bring the vehicle to the tow company for inspection. The tow company then denied my claim. I did due dilligence and had the vehicle inspected further and wrote a final demand letter for payment. I never received payment and hold both parties responsible for damages. I'm ready to file a small claim now. I documented everything. Any suggestions on what to file at small claims? ---

Posted

Whoever damaged your vehicle is responsible. It is up to you to prove responsibility. It would appear that the tow truck operator and his company are responsible. File a claim with their liability carrier.

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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

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