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My car was wrongfully towed. what can I do?

Sacramento, CA |

My car was wrongfully towed last night. I woke up to find my car gone this morning. I called to file a police report they ran my license plate and informed me it was towed. According to the towing company someone called my car in. Its private property in a gated community apartment complex. They said they had it towed because it was parked in a fire lane. The spot in question is actually my landlords parking space and I had permission to be there. There is also a sign posted that says maintenance personal and property owners only. They towing company refuses to drop the fees or return the car to me at my address. I had my manager call them and they are charging her $240 for the tow. They are extremely rude and refuse to take any fault. They said the property has a contract with the tow company but it is from DEC 2009. There was another manager here then. The current manager has been here for 2 years and knew nothing of it. I had to cancel dentist appointments and errands today. I have to pay cancellation fees for canceling my appointments last minute. My fiancée has to take off half the day to go pick up the car being that it is in his name and they refuse to release it to anyone but him. What are my rights here. And is there any legal ground to stand on to sue them. My life is upside down at this point.

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Attorney answers 3


It sounds like your issue may be with your landlord. If the tow company has a ontract with the landlord (even back to 2009) and some sort of agreement that the tow company tows when they see a car in that spot, then the tow company has done nothing wrong (even if the current manager knows nothing about that.) Did you find out from the tow company who called in the tow? Good luck.

I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.


The first thing you need to do is get your car. You will have to pay any towing and storage charges to get your car out. The longer you wait, the more it will cost you.
After that, you can sue the tow company and the landlord in small claims and let the judge work it all out.


Wrongful Towing is governed by Vehicle Code section 22658. There are several ways to fight your towing in small claims court. First, you could argue that the sign formalities in VC section 22658 (a) (1) were not met. If sign formalities were not met, the private property owner could be liable for statutory damages. Second, you could also argue that the towing was an illegal “roving tow at night” operation. VC s 22658 forbids tow truck drivers from having absolute discretion to tow, except in an emergency, handicap parking or fire lane. Depending on your facts there could be other statutory actions.

However, you would have problems suing the tow truck company in small claims court. When you recover your car from a towing lot, the tow company usually makes you waive any and all claims against them. You may want to challenge this release as a contract of adhesion or unreasonable.

To begin, file a small claims action to obtain any recovery. Read Vehicle Code s 22658 very closely because a judge may be unfamiliar with this nuanced area of law.

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This answer is for informational purposes only under the AVVO system, its terms and conditions. It is not intended as specific legal advice regarding your question. The answer could be different if all the facts were known. This answer does not establish an attorney client relationship. I am admitted only in California. Roger G. Kosla, 916.923.2800.

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