Now what do you do?

Are you injured? Even think you or someone might be? Call 911.

Next, make sure you are safe and that your vehicle is safely out of the traffic flow, then check on the other drivers and try to assess how badly the cars are damaged.  Drivable? If yes, some drivers will choose to trade information: exchange driver’s license, insurance information, email addresses and telephone numbers. Use the camera on your telephone to take pictures of the license plate of the other cars and make sure to take pictures of the damage to both cars. Your insurance company will thank you for that later.

If either car is not drivable, or should you want to, call the police to get their help and to get a tow truck on the way to you.  When the police come they will ask you and the other driver a lot of questions about the accident.  They will take down all your information (driver’s license, insurance information, what directions were you moving, and other pertinent information so they can better understand the conditions leading up to the accident.  Answer as truthfully as you can based on your memory of events.

Who calls the tow truck?

Let’s think about that …

It’s Friday afternoon and you’re just getting off work and unfortunately you get involved in a collision with another vehicle.  No one is injured but your car has damage to the front tire and can’t be driven from the scene.

Fortunately, you have a friend from church, Stan, who owns a body shop close by with a towing service and you know he’ll be fair with the towing expense and to get your car fixed.  However, due to all the stress from being in an accident you forget about Stan’s towing business and do not mention that to the police officer attending the scene.  The police have a responsibility first to make sure no one is hurt, then to clear the intersection and make it safe for traffic.  Most police departments have a contract with a preferred towing company and make the call to them and your car is towed to their lot.

After some time you make arrangements for someone to pick you up and get you home. At some point the shock of the accident has worn off and you call the tow company to make arrangements to get your car over to Stan’s body shop.  This is no answer.  You then drive to the impound lot to find them closed.  Checking your watch you notice it’s only 5:30pm.  You look around for any sign someone is there but find nothing.  The tow company is closed for the weekend.

You call on Monday morning and Stan comes and moves your car to his body shop.  Looking at your towing bill the fee is $200, labor is $150, administrative fee is $125 and storage is $100 a day for 3 days.  Your total bill is almost $800 plus what Stan is going to charge to moving your car to his shop.  Had Stan done the work initially the bill would have been like $175 for the tow.  It’s going to cost you $600 more than it should have.  What can you do?

1)  You should have told the police to call your friend Stan for the tow direct to his body shop. However, you have a perfectly normal reason for forgetting, accidents are infrequent, and very stressful.

(If Stan’s Towing was prompt and quickly arrived at the scene you would have saved a lot of money.  But remember that the police must clear the roads quickly and if they determine that Stan isn’t responding quickly enough and they call the city tow service then whoever shows up first and hooks up to the car is entitled to the tow.)

2)  Keep in mind that tow operators are people, too.  You might contact the city tow service owner (be nice!) and show him your phone log documenting your phone call on Friday prior to their closing hours.  The tow company didn’t have a phone number posted for after-hours calling and since the tow company owner wasn’t aware that you had called prior to closing he might agree to not charge you for the 3 days storage.

Moral of the story:  First, make sure no one is hurt; call 911 if needed. Make sure to exchange information with all drivers, and take pictures of EVERYTHING, and finally keep the phone number for the Rambling Wrecker – Manassas in your car papers. We’re here 24 hours a day to serve you.


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