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What Happens When Your Vehicle Gets Towed After a Car Accident?

tow truck hauling a truck that has been in an accident

A serious collision can cause more than just physical injuries. If your vehicle was damaged or totaled in the crash, it may need to be towed from the scene. There are also situations in which the car may still be drivable, but a tow truck is necessary anyway.

We want you to feel empowered to take necessary action in the period of time following an auto accident, whether that means pursuing necessary medical care or meeting with a lawyer to discuss filing a personal injury claim. Being empowered to take action requires access to all information relevant to your crash, including locating and recovering a towed vehicle.

Below, we have compiled information that you will find helpful if you’re unsure of what happens when your vehicle gets towed after a car accident.

Why Can’t I Drive My Car After an Accident?

There are many reasons why you might not be able to drive your vehicle away from the scene following a collision. You might be unable to drive your car after an accident if:

  • You were taken to the hospital via ambulance, and the car could not be released to a suitable third party, such as a trusted friend or relative.
  • Your vehicle was completely totaled.
  • Your vehicle was damaged, and driving it would cause further damage.

Even minor vehicle damage may warrant having your car towed. For example, damage to the hood can result in an air pressure build-up even if the rest of the vehicle was unharmed. This built-up air pressure can cause the hood to open unexpectedly, blocking your view while driving. In these types of situations, it is almost always preferable to have your vehicle safely towed to another location.

If the responding police officer believes that your vehicle is too damaged to safely drive and you are no longer at the scene, they may order a non-consensual tow.

What Is a Non-Consensual Tow?

A non-consensual tow is one that is initiated by a law enforcement official without the consent of the vehicle’s owner. A variety of situations call for a non-consensual tow, including car accidents that send vehicle occupants to the hospital or that involve the arrest of one or more drivers.

New Mexico state law imposes limits on the maximum rates that tow truck companies can charge for non-consensual tows. These limits are based on the class of tow trucks, which are categorized as class A, B, C, or D. Class A and B tow trucks are those used most often for towing passenger vehicles. Notable limits on charges for non-consensual tows by class A/B trucks include:

  • $100 for the initial hookup and first mile
  • $15 per hour additional charge for after-hour responses (between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.)
  • $10, $15, or $20 per day for storage, depending on the lot type

Where Does My Vehicle Go When It Gets Towed After a Car Accident?

So, where exactly does your car go when it gets towed? Depending on the situation, your vehicle may be taken to:

  • A mechanic or auto repair shop of your choice
  • A salvage yard
  • Your home
  • An impound or storage lot

You may have little to no choice over where your vehicle is towed. If the responding officer feels that your vehicle is unsafe to drive or you are taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, your vehicle may be towed to a location that you would not have otherwise chosen.

If your car is towed to an impound lot, storage lot, salvage yard, or auto shop that you did not choose, you may incur additional fees and costs having it moved to a different location.

How Do I Get My Car Back From an Impound or Storage Lot?

The first step to recovering your vehicle is to correctly identify the location where it was towed. If your accident occurred in New Mexico and a police officer ordered a non-consensual tow, contact the Albuquerque Police Department. They will be able to tell you where your vehicle was towed.

When you have correctly identified where your vehicle is being stored, we recommend calling the facility to inquire about their open hours, your towing fees, and what documents are required to prove ownership.

Once you show the required documentation and pay your towing fees, your vehicle should be released back to you. However, if it was towed due to damage, you may need to have it towed directly to an auto repair shop.

Who Pays the Cost of Towing My Car?

While you will be responsible for paying the initial towing and storage fees, these costs are typically compensable in a personal injury lawsuit. Towing costs are considered economic damages, meaning it is a financial loss you suffered as a result of your accident.

In New Mexico, both economic and non-economic damages are covered by personal injury lawsuits. When seeking compensation from a negligent driver who hit and injured you, you should only work with a lawyer who understands the wide range of losses associated with serious car accidents.

Buckingham & Vega Law Firm Is a Strong Advocate for Car Accident Victims

Whether your car was towed or you were able to drive away from the scene, we understand that the long-reaching impact of a New Mexico car accident can be life-altering. It is our goal as Albuquerque auto accident lawyers to make the process of calculating and recovering compensation for your injuries as seamless as possible.

To learn more about how we can help, what compensation you are entitled to, and what happens when your vehicle gets towed after a car accident, please contact our Albuquerque law office by phone (505) 388-0066 or our convenient online form. Our first meeting is always free, and there is never any obligation to continue working with our law firm after your free case evaluation.

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