If your car breaks down or if you’re in an accident, a tow truck can save the day. Yet far too often, tow trucks can be the source of accidents. A collision with a tow truck, which can weigh anywhere from 5 to 20 tons, can be catastrophic for a passenger vehicle.
There are approximately 35,000 tow truck companies in the United States, employing hundreds of thousands of Americans. These tow trucks and drivers provide a necessary service in cities and towns, including here in the greater Philadelphia metro region. However, like any other drivers, operators of tow trucks are prone to error — and mistakes when operating a tow truck can be deadly.
Tow truck drivers in Pennsylvania are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) if the truck they are driving exceeds a certain weight, or if they tow a vehicle in excess of 10,000 pounds. Whether they have a CDL or not, tow truck drivers are required to abide by the rules of the road. When they do not, serious (or even fatal) accidents can occur. Learn more from a Philadelphia truck accident attorney.
The Dangers of Tow Truck Accidents
In December 2017, Huiqing Jiang, a school teacher who immigrated from China with his wife, was struck and killed by a tow truck driver. The driver, Farran Haynes struck Jiang as he walked along Righters Mill Road in Lower Merion, and left the scene without rendering aid. Witness testimony and surveillance footage from a Wawa helped police find and arrest Haynes for the crime.
In addition to charges related to the accident, police charged Haynes for driving more than 11 hours in a 14 hour period without a break. In addition, Haynes was charged for forging his expired medical certificate for his CDL.
Tow trucks are a constant presence on our roadways in and around Philadelphia. While they perform a vital service, clearing accidents and moving disabled vehicles from roadways, their sheer size can make them a danger in accidents.
Drivers of tow trucks are required to work long hours, in all weather conditions. This can make them uniquely vulnerable to fatigue and other stressors that may make accidents more likely. While Philadelphia has sought to curb so-called wreck chasers through a tow rotation system, the desire to get to the scene of an accident quickly may also lead to unsafe driving.
Causes of Tow Truck Accidents
There are a number of potential causes of tow truck accidents, from overworked and exhausted drivers to mechanical failures. The most common causes of tow truck accidents include the following:
Disconnected Vehicles: As part of their training, tow truck drivers learn how to securely attach cars, trucks and other vehicles to their truck. However, the driver may attach the vehicle incorrectly, or the cable itself may break. In these situations, the vehicle could come loose, causing an accident when it strikes another car, or when a car swerves to avoid it.
Obstructed Brake Lights: One of the ways that drivers know to slow down or stop is by paying attention to the brake lights of the vehicles in front of them. If a tow truck’s brake lights are obstructed or are otherwise not visible to the vehicles behind it when it is towing a vehicle, it may lead to an accident.
Improper Maintenance: Tow trucks are in high demand in and around the Philadelphia area, and spend thousands of hours on the road each year. Companies and drivers must take the time to ensure that these trucks are properly maintained, which includes checking all cables, motor components, brakes and brake lights, to avoid accidents caused by mechanical failures.
Driver Error: Tow truck drivers who don’t pay attention, drive at unsafe speeds (the number one cause of accidents in Pennsylvania), or make illegal lane changes can cause accidents. Because tow trucks are much bigger than the average passenger vehicle, a collision between a car and a tow truck may lead to serious injuries.
Work with a Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorney
As with all truck accidents, proving negligence is necessary to recover for a tow truck crash in Pennsylvania. If you can demonstrate that a tow truck was responsible for your damages, you may be able to recover damages for your losses, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
At Solnick & Associates, our team of skilled legal professionals is dedicated to working with victims of all types of accidents, including tow truck collisions. We work collaboratively with our clients to help them get the compensation that they deserve. Contact us today at 877-415-6495 or anytime via online to schedule an appointment with a Philadelphia truck accident attorney. Initial consultations are always free.