Most towing companies operate with integrity and follow the law appropriately. However, this is not always the case. Illegal towing, also known as predatory towing occurs, from time to time. Predatory towing refers to both illegal and unethical practices used by some towing companies to maximize profits.
Tow companies and property owners make arrangements to tow vehicles off their said premises as quickly as possible. Those engaged in illegal towing make use of different strategies such as the use of a spotter to tow more cars. In most states, there is a law in place to protect motorists from illegal towing. There is a maximum amount of compensation that companies can charge per day for the first three days of storage of a vehicle.
There are a couple of tips you can follow, to avoid falling a victim of illegal towing practices. Here is what you should know.
Drop fee applies if you arrive at your vehicle while it is in the process of being hooked up, but has not been taken off the property yet. If your car is not fully hooked up, then the tow driver must release your vehicle for no charge. If your car is fully hooked up but has not been taken away, then you can pay a drop fee for your car to be released. A drop fee should not exceed half of the towing fee, and in most cases, it should not exceed $125.
Before a car can be towed, there should be proper notice. States set very strict requirements that must be followed by owners of parking lots and tow operators before a vehicle can be legally towed. Requirements for towing vary but are generally extensive. There should be a permanent mount, specific distances and locations within the parking bay as well as name and phone number of the towing company.
Common Tow Violations
There are common tow violations you need to understand, to protect yourself from the same happening. First is no signage or incorrect signage. Others include overcharging, refusing to drop, and not honoring drop fees. Other common ones include expired tow licenses, not carrying required insurance, and not providing a vehicle owner with a detailed tow ticket.
Other vehicle owner rights
The tow truck driver must take all necessary precautions to prevent your car from being damaged and prevent anything from being lost from it. If you find that something is missing, or your car gets damaged, you should file a formal complaint through writing, addressed to the tow truck company.
If you are insured, you can liaise with your insurance provider and work it out. In case you are lacing insurance, work with a panel beater to access the damage and the cost of repairs, to understand the compensation you will need.
In most cases, vehicle owners are illegally towed even when parked in a private property because some of these properties lack posted signs warning motorists against parking on their properties. If you come back and find your car has been towed, take pictures of the spot where you left your car and the surrounding areas, including the presence or lack of signs.