Tow trucks are usually a welcome sight. If your vehicle has ever broken down, you know that seeing a tow truck means help has arrived and you’re no longer stranded. However, towing vehicles can also be extremely dangerous.
Tow trucks are heavy by themselves – pulling another vehicle significantly adds to this weight and makes driving much more dangerous. These types of trucks take longer to change speeds, require more space to maneuver, and have large blind spots while pulling other vehicles.
Although there are many factors that contribute to accidents, it’s important to understand that the law might be on your side if you are involved in a tow truck crash. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common causes of these unique accidents – and how to seek fair compensation with the help of a tow truck accident lawyer.
Let’s get moving.
How Common Are Tow Truck Disasters?
Tow truck accidents are more common than most people think, unfortunately.
A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) found that workers in the towing industry face an on-the-job fatality risk nearly 15 times greater than all other private industries. Moreover, the non-fatal injury rate among towing workers is more than double the rate of those in other industries – over 98 percent.
Additionally, drivers die in tow truck accidents at a rate of nearly 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, according to data from AAA. We might not think of tow trucks as dangerous, but their risks for accidents and fatalities are certainly significant.
Common Causes of Tow Truck Accidents
Tow truck accidents can be caused by a million different circumstances. However, there are some culprits that are more likely to cause an accident than others.
As truck accident attorneys, some of the most common causes of tow truck disasters we see include:
Driver fatigue is a serious problem in the trucking industry. Drivers are expected to work at all hours of the day and night. Many work long shifts and are on-call to address any towing needs – no matter when or where disaster strikes.
According to the National Safety Council, driver fatigue can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Overly tired drivers experience similar symptoms, including:
- Slower response times
- Tunnel vision
- Difficulty keeping eyes open
All of these can compromise their ability to operate the vehicle properly, leading to dangerous tow truck collisions – and oftentimes severe injuries.
Underqualified Truck Drivers
Many towing companies fail to provide adequate training to their drivers. In some cases, all a driver needs to do is show they can control the vehicle. Drivers may have very little real training and experience operating the towing mechanism.
Improperly trained truck operators may fail to safely secure the vehicle they are towing, make unsafe maneuvers, or struggle to drive in hazardous conditions.
Tow truck drivers are expected to work in inclement weather conditions. In fact, they are needed the most in bad weather. Icy or snowy roads make it difficult to maintain control of a large tow truck, even if the driver is experienced.
Pinpointing liability in tow truck accidents during spells of inclement weather can be extremely difficult. Speak with a truck accident lawyer to understand the next steps in seeking legal action.
The driver may not be the liable party in a tow truck collision. The vehicle may have a malfunctioning component that gives out. For example, the brakes can become corroded and fail while the vehicle is in motion, resulting in a crash that is not necessarily the driver’s fault.
In these scenarios, you – with the help of a truck accident attorney – will need to work with a traffic accident investigator to pinpoint the mechanical issue. Liability would fall on the trucking company for failing to have their vehicle properly inspected and maintained.
Poorly Secured Cargo
Loose cargo is typically a result of inadequate training. Components will shift naturally during the drive – but there shouldn’t be a significant movement that throws off the weight of the vehicle. This can cause the tow truck to drift into other lanes.
Additionally, poorly secured cargo can become detached from the tow truck, creating an extremely high risk for other vehicles on the road. Drivers should stay at least several car lengths behind tow trucks (and even further on highways) to avoid potential hazards.
Inattentiveness to Blind Spots
Tow truck drivers are expected to know about (and work around) their vehicle’s blind spots. Unfortunately, these drivers still might miss another vehicle that’s in their blind spot. Tow trucks are very large and bulky, leading to bigger blind spots than most drivers are used to checking.
Failure to check blind spots is usually traced back to improper training and underqualified drivers. If you were a victim of a tow truck accident for this reason, you deserve compensation from the trucking company.
Driving Under the Influence
Although we wish it weren’t the case, there are tow truck drivers who choose to get behind the wheel after drinking or doing drugs. In these cases, their ability to safely operate their vehicles is inhibited, which can significantly raise the risk of an accident (and injuries or fatalities).
There is no excuse for a tow truck driver to be intoxicated on the job. The courts have a very low tolerance for this. If you were injured by an intoxicated driver, contact an experienced attorney immediately to seek compensation – as well as punitive damages.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved in a Tow Truck Accident
After being struck by or impacted by a tow truck, you have the legal right to pursue justice against the at-fault party. We do not recommend doing so on your own, as placing liability on a big company can be challenging.
In most cases, your personal injury lawsuit will be against the trucking company that employed the at-fault driver. Trying to seek compensation for injuries on your own will be extremely difficult – and you will likely end up short-changed.
If you were injured in a tow truck accident and want to file a claim, you’ll need to:
- Establish the truck driver’s duty of care. Tow truck drivers (and the trucking companies that employ them) have an obligation to keep other drivers safe on the road.
- Prove that the driver breached this duty of care.
- Indicate how the breached duty of care resulted in the tow truck accident.
- Demonstrate how you suffered physically, mentally, and/or financially.
This is where a truck accident injury lawyer comes into the picture. A trained attorney will help you gather the information to establish fault and present a strong case, even against a large corporation.
Keep in mind that most trucking companies have extensive legal defense teams on retainer. To go up against them in court and secure full compensation, you’ll need a truck accident lawyer to gather documentation, communicate with authorities, present evidence, establish proof, and negotiate for your settlement.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Tow truck accidents aren’t usually cut-and-dry, which makes proving liability difficult. If you want to file a case against an at-fault tow truck driver, you’ll need to work with an experienced attorney to guide you through the legal process.
At Midwest Injury Lawyers, our Indiana and Chicago truck accident lawyers are happy to schedule complimentary case evaluations. Tell us what happened and we’ll help you understand your legal options, then move forward. Our lawyers for truck accidents operate on a contingency fee, meaning you won’t pay anything unless we win your case.
To set up a consultation, call our office at 312-786-5881, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out an online form. The sooner you move to pursue justice, the higher your odds of success become.