When a car accident occurs, the bills start piling up immediately. Some of the bills that can quickly add up are the towing and storage fees for an inoperable car. A tow truck will come out to the scene of the accident and tow your vehicle away. While you’re in the hospital or seeking some other form of medical treatment, the towing and storage fees are piling up. While the insurance companies investigate who is at fault for the accident, the same bills are swelling. While you sit and wait for the police report to be made available, the storage bill keeps going up. When there is a coverage issue, the storage fees keep increasing. It could be several weeks before anything is done about your car in the tow yard. This depends on many factors, like your auto insurance coverage, who is at fault for the accident, insurance investigation of potential witnesses, coverage investigation issues, etc… In the meantime, the fees are growing every day. When all is said and done, your storage fees could cost more than your car is worth!
Most people think in this situation, especially, if they believe they are not at fault for the accident, just tell themselves that the other insurance company will take care of whatever towing or storage fees have incurred. They must pay for all of it. They tell themselves, it’s the law. Wrong! They are surprised to hear from the insurance company adjuster that they will not. They will hear something like this, “we will not pay for your total storage fees because you failed to mitigate your damages.” What? Wait, what is that? Why do I have to pay for it when it’s the other person’s fault? It’s usually a total shock. It seems pretty unfair. That can’t be right.
Well, it’s part of the law. It’s called the Mitigation of Damages Rule. Insurance companies love this rule! They love to use it every time they can, and they use it often. Mitigation of damages is your duty to exercise reasonable care and diligence to avoid loss or minimize the resulting damages. Again, what? What this means is that if you can avoid incurring increasing storage fees, you must. You must try to get your damaged vehicle out of that storage facility. This is a way for insurance companies to deny paying all your bills! However, what the insurance adjuster won’t tell you is that this mitigation of damages rule has its limits. They won’t tell you about a California Supreme Court ruling that limits this harsh rule on unsuspecting people who have been in a car accident. Why would they?
The California Supreme Court held “the duty to minimize damages does not require an injured person to do what is unreasonable or impracticable, and, consequently, when expenditures are necessary for minimization of damages, the duty does not run to a person who is financially unable to make such expenditures.” Valencia v. Shell Oil Co. (1944) 23 Cal.2d 840, 846. Let me try to explain. For example, if you’re injured so severely that you were in the hospital for days or weeks, you could easily argue that it was unreasonable or impracticable for you to go out to the tow yard and get your car. Additionally, if the car was your primary mode of transportation to work and you could no longer make it to work to pay your bills including the storage and towing fees, then this California Supreme Court ruling will help you. You need to use it and tell the insurance adjusters about it (by the way, they already know). The only way for them to take this ruling into account is if you tell them. These are just several examples of what you could argue to avoid having to pay a dime of the towing and storage fees. Car accidents occur all the time in Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento or Fresno. Your towing and storage fees will accumulate quickly! Know your legal rights. Contact us to learn more. We can help you with your car accident and your injuries. If you’ve been injured in car accident, call The Law Firm of R. Sam now for a free consultation. Remember: If you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.