First, don't panic.
You get back to your parking spot and your car is gone. You panic, worrying that it may have been stolen, or that it was too ugly; but the truth is almost as disheartening - someone towed your vehicle. You can get it back, so it isn't quite as bad as theft, but there are plenty of pitfalls to overcome when it comes retrieving it. Just thinking about where it might be, or how to find out if it was actually impounded can cause a pit to form in your stomach. Luckily, this guide is designed specifically to help you understand your rights and give you tips on how to get your car back with the least fuss.
There are many reasons for your car getting towed. Here are just a few to be mindful of and try to avoid:
It is all too easy to panic when you go outside only to find your vehicle is suddenly missing, or to lose your temper when you see the workman hooking it up to their tow truck. Instead of losing your cool, follow these steps on what to do if your car gets towed:
The towing fee for a large sedan such as a Chrysler 300 may be more than that of a small car. Storage of the towed car is charged per hour. There might be an additional charge per day, a charge per mile that the car was towed away, and a release charge. If your car was towed due to unpaid fines, you cannot retrieve it without paying them first.
If your car was rightfully towed, you cannot make an insurance claim. It won't be covered. You pay these charges yourself and your insurance rate remains unaffected. However, if you have several unpaid tickets for moving violations or get towed a lot, your insurance company may up your rates because of your repeat-offender status reflecting bad driving habits.
If you are convinced that your car has been wrongfully towed, document the scene and take photographs of any signs around the place your car was parked. Lodge a complaint with your local authority and keep receipts that prove you have paid for your parking. Before leaving the impound lot, take photographs of the exterior and interior of the car to document its state and condition and to be sure that any damage caused by the tow truck is accounted for.
If you drive a financed car, it is required to have full insurance coverage, including liability, collision, and comprehensive, so you can work with your insurance company to pay for the damage. If the towing company is at fault for the damage, their insurance company should pay for the repairs.
If the tow truck has not yet started to move off, you can request that your vehicle be released. The tow-truck operator must release it but will require that a binding agreement be made in which you consent to pay the release fee. This can only be done if you can produce your driver's license, title, registration, identification, insurance, and the keys of the vehicle.
Here are a few steps you can follow to claim any property that might have been left in the vehicle:
To ensure that your car is never towed, make sure it's roadworthy, your license is up to date, and any outstanding tickets are paid. Always take a good look around before parking to ensure that you don't illegally park your car.
Yes, proof of insurance is required, along with your driver's license and the title to the car.
Yes, there may be several valid reasons. In NYC, for example, receiving more than five summonses in a single year forfeits your right to retrieve the vehicle without further legal action. Each city has different regulations and laws.
Examine the signage for a number to call. If you can't find any, you can try calling the police. You should never call 911 since it is definitely not an emergency, though it may feel like one to you.
Properly document the scene, collect useful evidence, and take photos. The authorities will reimburse you if it can be proven that it has been wrongfully towed.