Recent law enforcement operations in Austin have shown that while most people are aware of the laws requiring pulling over for emergency vehicles, very few are aware that this also applies to tow trucks. Drivers are required to either move over or slow down to 20 miles per hour for tow trucks, but Austin police report almost “zero compliance” with this law. If you are ever in an accident involving a tow truck, you would not be barred from recovery solely due to not observing this law. However, it can play a role in reducing a defendant’s liability, so it is important to be aware of all the information in your case.
More Dangerous Than Believed
Statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), show that tow truck drivers are actually in an extremely dangerous profession. Reports released in February 2019 show that tow truck drivers are up to 15 times more likely to die on the job than the average private sector worker, and this manifests itself in a variety of ways. Many accidents occur simply because drivers do not pay enough attention to the road.
If you fail to move over or slow down for a tow truck, and you are stopped by law enforcement, you can be charged with a misdemeanor, usually with a fine of $500 or more, though if you cause an accident or bodily injury, you would then be charged with the appropriate offense (for example, if you struck someone with your car, you would be charged with assault or vehicular manslaughter). If you are struck by a tow truck, your remedy lies in civil law.
Bringing Suit in Civil Court
Like any auto accident case, tow truck drivers are required to exercise reasonable care for the other motorists on the road. If you are injured by a tow truck driver’s conduct, and you are able to show that the accident would not have occurred but for that conduct, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses – for example, loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, and potential lost wages. Tow trucks can either be private contractors, or they can be owned by the government, and depending which is true in your case, you would have to go about seeking redress in one of two ways.
If the truck is governmentally owned, you will have to ensure that you are able to bring suit, because Texas law allows for a concept called sovereign immunity, which prohibits certain types of lawsuits against the state government and its assorted agencies. Motor vehicle accidents are generally an exception to sovereign immunity, but you should not assume that will always be true. If the truck is privately owned, you may be able to bring suit in the normal way, under a theory of ordinary negligence or vicarious liability.
Call a New Braunfels Tow Truck Accident Lawyer
Once you know that most tow trucks fall under the move-over law, you know to slow down for them, so as to minimize your own liability in the event of an accident. However, if you are struck by a tow truck, you have options to try and recover for the harm you have suffered. The skilled New Braunfels tow truck accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are happy to help you. Call our office today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.