Tow Truck Accidents in Chicago

When a tow truck is driven properly and operated by a qualified driver, these vehicles provide an essential service to help motorists transport their cars after they malfunction or they have been in an accident. Tow trucks are also useful to the police, businesses and local government in keeping people from parking illegally, abandoning their cards, or blocking traffic or fire lanes. They are also essential in transporting new cars or trucks to dealerships or homes.

Unfortunately, like any other complex piece of machinery, a tow truck in the wrong hands can the cause of terrible accidents and collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians. Tow truck accidents account for dozens of serious injuries throughout greater Illinois each year.

Types of Tow Trucks

Tow trucks are typically managed by either private business enterprises or by governmental agencies involved with operating roads and highways. Most private tow truck operators offer services not only for towing cars and trucks but also specialized services for managing large vehicles like tractor-trailers or relocating pieces of large machinery. Government departments regularly either manage their own tow trucks or contract out to private operators to manage parking for public places, police and fire departments, and transportation authorities.

There are five specific types of tow trucks in the towing industry, which all drivers see regularly on the streets and highways around Chicago and in the suburbs. They are:

  1. Hook/Chain Trucks—In this setup, chains are hooked around a vehicle frame or axle and the vehicle is pulled up by a hydraulic pulley. The rear axle is left on the ground for transport purposes.

  2. Wheel-Lift Trucks—In this configuration, a vehicle is pulled onto the tow in a similar way as a hook/chain tow truck. The difference is that a metal device is placed under the front or rear wheels to prevent the bumper from getting scratched during towing.

  3. Flatbed Trucks—Here, a hydraulically powered tow truck bed is used to position the broken vehicle on the back of the truck.

  4. Integrated Trucks—These lighter trucks are often used to repossesses vehicles or tow away illegally parked cars. Most tow trucks also have devices called “booms” for the purpose of recovering abandoned vehicles where the keys may not be present.

Dangers of an Improperly Loaded Tow Truck

When a tow truck driver has not loaded a vehicle for transport in a safe manner, vehicles can shift while the truck is in motion. If a car shifts in this manner while a tow truck is on the road, it now presents a danger to the truck driver, the car being transported, and every other vehicle or pedestrian in the vicinity of the tow truck. Now a vehicle that was intended to clean up after an accident becomes the potential cause of another accident. In almost all cases, an improperly loaded vehicle that causes a crash would be the fault of the tow truck driver, unless faulty mechanical elements are found to be involved.

Employer Responsibility to Hire Safe Drivers and Maintain Vehicles

It is critical that commercial trucking operators hire safe drivers. They must ensure this responsibility by researching a driver’s history, criminal record, and eligibility to be insured. Drivers of any tow truck must be insured on a company policy. If a commercial tow truck operator hires drivers with missing or no training, a criminal driving record or substance abuse issues, they can be found at fault in the event of an accident. Tow truck operators are also required to regularly inspect and maintain their vehicles in order to prevent accidents from happening.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) & Vehicle Location Technology

Technology for tow truck operators has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Dispatchers know exactly where a given truck is at any time thanks to Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology. These GPS-based systems have several purposes. Their primary purpose is to let dispatchers find the closest available tow truck and let drivers navigate to the customer site via the quickest possible route. But trucking companies also regularly use this technology to monitor their drivers for speeding or other forms of reckless driving. In the event of an accident involving a tow truck, it is critical for attorneys to access a truck’s GPS records to see if the truck was being operated properly at the time of a collision. Unethical operators will often decide to scrub their databases in the event of an accident so that data that would indicate the company is at fault cannot be utilized in court.

Tow Trucks Must Obey State and Local Laws

The state of Illinois has blanket requirements for tow truck operators in our states. However, trucks transporting vehicles trespassing on private property are also regulated by local jurisdictions. There are also special regulations in Illinois for operators towing damaged and disabled vehicles. These rules were established in 2008 to protect customers from predatory towing practices.

State regulations also govern “non-relocation towing,” which includes all manner of towing except trespassing vehicles. Operators must apply for a state license, provide a statement of net worth, identify all drivers and staff, and submit a list of equipment in use. Neither operators nor drivers can have certain kinds of felony convictions on their record within two years of submitting an application. Naturally, all drivers must also carry the appropriate commercial license.

Contact our Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers Today

Truck accident cases involving tow truck accidents are complex and can prove confusing to their victims. Proving negligence in a crash that involves a tow truck takes an investment of time, experience and resources. If you have been injured in an accident involving a tow truck or any other incident involving an 18-wheeler, big rig or another large commercial truck, the lawyers of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., can pursue the compensation you need and deserve by calling our trucking accident lawyers today at (312) 236-2900.