'Not reasonable,' says lawyer as driver's car busted during a tow

A NEW Yorker filmed a police tow truck crudely towing a vehicle from its parking spot - a lawyer said they could be liable for damages.

A neighbor filmed the whole thing - but many viewers think the video wouldn't be enough proof in court.

A lawyer reacted to a user's video of an NYPD truck crudely towing someone's carCredit: Youtube/UgoLordHe said that the department could be liable for damagesCredit: Youtube/UgoLord

Ugo Lord, an attorney and talk show host, is known for taking verbose legal language and translating it into digestible information for the masses.

His YouTube channel (@UgoLord) has nearly 1.5 million subscribers, with his most popular videos being Shorts of his lawyerly reactions to other posted videos.

In December 2023, he posted a reaction video to a Short showing a New York Police Department (NYPD) tow truck forcefully pulling a Honda Civic from its parking spot.

The driver put a hook onto the driver's side wheel and put the truck in reverse, pulling the Honda into the street.

The U-Haul truck parked behind the Honda sustained minor damage from the Honda being forced into its front bumper.

Once it stuck into the road, the driver pulled in front and hooked the wheels to the tow bar.

The rear wheels of the Honda were screeching in protest as it was towed away.

That's because the Honda was in park, preventing the rear wheels from turning freely.

Normally, tow truck drivers can place dollies with wheels underneath the rear wheels to prevent damage to the vehicle's drivetrain, but this driver neglected to use them.

Lord said that according to his vast knowledge of the law, the NYPD could be liable for damage to the Civic's wheels and drivetrain.

I'm a traffic lawyer - here's a driving mistake you CAN'T be fined for

"If the NYPD is towing your vehicle, clearly you've done something wrong," said Lord.

"But, whenever a third party takes possession of another party's property, they must make reasonable efforts to make sure that that property is held safely."

While speaking, the video of the tow truck replayed, showing the Honda's rear wheels locked and screeching down the road.

"What we witnessed was not reasonable, making the NYPD liable for damages not only to the Honda but to the U-Haul as well."

In nearly every US state, someone can sue a towing company for negligence if a vehicle was wrongfully towed away and directly caused foreseeable damage, reported Findlaw.com.

"If you show that the towing company damaged your car when towing it, you may be able to show a breach of its duty of care. A towing company could cause many different forms of damage, but the most common are windshield, bumper, and tire damage," the site read.

Viewers of Lord's video agreed that the NYPD should be liable - but many don't believe video proof would be enough in court.

"Good luck getting them to pay," one viewer wrote.

"You'd have to sue them to get it right."

Lord replied, echoing the viewer's sentiment.

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

"You're right. It's a sad truth but you're absolutely right."

Another viewer wrote that the fact that it was a police truck would make an investigation and lawsuit nearly impossible.

"The cops investigated themselves and found no wrongdoing," their comment read.

A tow truck driver who watched the video couldn't help but comment about the driver's hack job of towing.

"I used to do tows like this, first there are situations where you can drag a vehicle by the wheel to access it, but you would use a special strap that goes through the wheel, not a j-hook," they wrote.

"[The driver] had dollies so I don't know why he dragged it with the brake on, but none of that matters because a skilled driver that does a lot of impounds would have been able to hook it onto the wheel lift even in that tight spot and on an angle."


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