'Assumed they were police,' says driver who was towed after accident then charged $9k

A DRIVER found themselves entangled in a costly towing charge after their car was damaged in a highway pileup.

A tow company charged a driver thousands of dollars after removing a vehicle from the accident - but state officials said the company took advantage of the crash.

A driver said she was initially charged $9,000 after her car was towedCredit: WXYZ DETROITA local tow operator said other tow truck companies charge too muchCredit: WXYZ DETROIT

The story galvanized the Detroit Towers Association into calls for legislative action.

Kellie Rockwell was part of a multiple-vehicle pileup in Michigan in 2022, according to local ABC affiliate WXYZ.

Rockwell's Ford Escape SUV was damaged on the passenger side and had to be towed from the highway.

After the accident, she said a tow truck operator approached her car.

"The tow driver ... asked if we wanted him to get us out, and we said yes because we assumed they were with the police," she said.

After Rockwell's car was taken from the crash, the driver said she received a bill for over $9,000.

Other towing companies told the television station that it charged too much for the job.

"No way and no how can you justify $9,000," Bill Byers, a local towing operator and a former president of the Michigan Towing Association, said to the station.

Byers said he would have charged between $350 to $400 for the job.

"That’s just blatantly taking advantage of somebody just because they can," Byers added.

I was charged $9,000 after being towed a third of a mile - the bill wrote it up as accident service fee but it was a lie

Rockwell was able to cut the cost of the tow to $2,500 after her insurance company got involved.

The insurance company covered the cost of the tow.

However, the story caught the attention of Barry Foster, the president of the Detroit Towers Association.

He said Michigan state lawmakers needed to strengthen consumer regulation laws around towing.

"This has been a problem since 2010," Foster said at the time.

At the time, it was illegal in the state for companies to solicit towing services at the scene of an accident without police supervision.

What to do if your car is towed

Wrongfully or not, retrieving a towed vehicle can be a hassle.

If your vehicle is towed after parking in a "No Parking" zone or other legitimate reason, there are a few steps to take to get it back.

Steps to take when your car is towed:

Try to figure out why your car was towed. Did you not see a posted "No Parking" sign? Did you miss a car payment? Did you return to a lot where you have unpaid citations? Finding the reason can narrow down the phone numbers to dial.
Locate the vehicle. Most states, cities, or counties require towing companies to leave some form of contact information via a posted sign or sent by mail.
Recovery dates and times depend on the company that towed the vehicle, but those times will be posted to the website or can be recited by a representative.
Pay the fees. Be careful to be as prompt as possible, as some tow yards may charge storage fees by the day.

If you feel your vehicle was wrongfully towed, contesting the action can be done with the following steps:

Be prompt - many states have a small window of time where it's acceptable to file a complaint against a company that wrongfully towed the vehicle.
Gather supporting documents: photos, emails, receipts, police reports, and witness statements if applicable. The more evidence, the better.
Get familiar with your local laws, as laws for towing companies vary per state.
Try speaking with the towing company. Sometimes it may have been a simple oversight, and the matter can be resolved quickly.
Contact the Justice of the Peace in your area, as they may have more insight or resources to help. They are often utilized for towing cases.
Talk to a lawyer. Many lawyers have free case consultations, and depending on the case, it may be worth it to utilize a lawyer.

Source: Oregon Department of Justice, National General, Rak Law Firm

Fines for the infraction were only $1,000.

Foster said the fine needed to be raised to $2,500.

He also suggested drivers ask towing companies if the police called them before they take damaged vehicles.

Michigan has changed some towing regulations for consumers.

"You have the right to challenge whether your vehicle was properly towed and the reasonableness of towing and storage fees," the state wrote on its website.

"This must be done in a timely manner and in an appropriate district court."

The towing company, 10G Towing and Recovery, didn't immediately respond to The U.S. Sun's request for comment.

However, the company has claimed that police did call the company to the scene of the accident and that none of its pricing policies are illegal, according to Detroit-based Fox affiliate WJBK.


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