How Much Money Do You Get from a Tow Truck Accident Settlement?

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Written By Rocky Horton

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Every tow truck accident settlement is different, with dozens of variables deciding the outcome of each case and the compensation that each defendant will receive. However, the average truck accident usually settles for around $43,000, with many cases paying more depending on the conditions of the case.

Continue reading to learn about how truck accidents happen, how to make a case, and how a tow truck accident settlement is decided. We also talk about how you can recover from a tow truck accident and file a lawsuit if you believe you are due compensation for the damages you sustained from the crash.

Common Types of Tow Truck Accidents

The two common types of tow truck accidents are those that involve collisions with other vehicles and those that involve property damage caused by the tow truck. The cases are settled differently, with collisions typically being settled in higher amounts, but the situations have things in common.

Tow Truck Collisions

There are several types of tow trucks, including wheel lift, hook and chain, flatbed, and integrated trucks. No matter which truck is involved in a collision with another vehicle, the damage is often more serious than in a normal accident due to the size and weight of the truck.

Collisions with a tow truck could be head-on collisions, rear-end, sideswipe, underride, or T-bone collisions. In fact, 36% of tow truck driver deaths, accounting for around 83 deaths per year, are caused by a collision with traffic.

Due to the higher potential for damage and the involvement of another driver and insurer, the settlements for tow truck collisions tend to be higher.

Tow Truck Property Damage

The second type of settlement involves tow truck property damage. This can refer to damage caused by the tow truck on the road, such as a crushed mailbox, but it more often refers to damage caused by the truck to the other vehicle during its normal operations.

Poorly maintained hooks, chains, or flatbeds can cause damage to cars being towed, as can a mistake made by the loader. Typically, the driver’s collision coverage policy pays for the damages caused by a tow truck. These settlements are typically lower since less damage is involved.

However, if the car being towed was particularly valuable or if the tow truck company refuses to admit fault in the damage, a stronger legal stance could be required, which could increase the eventual settlement if it falls in the driver’s favor.

Common Causes of Tow Truck Accidents

The most common causes of tow truck accidents can be grouped into two categories: those caused by the truck and those caused by the other vehicle. The main causes are similar to those in a normal vehicular accident, including aggressive, distracted, or impaired driving. However, the results are different when a tow truck is involved.

Due to lower-than-average visibility and maneuverability, a tow truck driving aggressively or recklessly can cause serious damage to itself and other cars. Distracted driving, including drowsiness, can also be particularly dangerous in such a large vehicle, as can driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

However, the other vehicle may be driving recklessly or under the influence, and with less visibility, the tow truck driver has less of a chance to react. This also applies if either driver disregards the weather conditions by driving too fast in the rain or failing to take turns properly on wet or snowy roads.

Tow trucks also create unique opportunities for accidents, such as an unsecured vehicle causing a crash when it detaches from the truck. Finally, corporate-owned tow trucks require regular maintenance. If companies go too long without repairing their trucks, faulty parts can also cause accidents. In that case, the defendant may be the towing company rather than the driver if the driver of the other vehicle or the tow truck driver files for compensation.

Common Tow Truck Accident Injuries

Common tow truck accident injuries can be similar to those in other vehicular collisions, but the size of the vehicle and its load can make them much more serious. Common injuries include:

  • Neck and head trauma, possibly from the blow of the accident but also from latent damage caused by the sudden stop, resulting in whiplash
  • Brain injuries, such as from spinal cord damage or concussive blows
  • Broken bones or fractures resulting from the blunt force of the accident
  • Burns from either an explosion caused by the accident or steam, fluids, or chemicals leaking from the vehicle
  • Bodily lacerations from debris
  • Internal bleeding resulting from being crushed or cut
  • Muscle sprains from the stress of the accident 

Driver Fault vs Company Fault in Tow Truck Accidents

A tow truck accident settlement depends on establishing fault. In this case, the fault could be that of the driver or the company that owns the truck, depending on the cause of the accident. The presence of a potential corporate defendant makes the process of gathering evidence and making a strong legal argument more complicated.

Some tow trucks are owned by independent contractors. In that case, the driver would be the defendant and the collision policy on their insurance plan would be the first source of any future settlement.

But when a tow truck is owned by a company, the company may have policies that settle cases for their drivers. They may become the defendant more directly if there is evidence to suggest that poor maintenance contributed to the crash. Repair records and company policy in that case would be part of the evidence in your tow truck accident settlement.

In that case, the settlement would likely be much higher so long as you can prove negligence. Establishing the fault of a liable corporate entity like a tow truck company is a complicated process that requires more in-depth evidence than a personal injury case. Remember that now the defendant is a corporation with its own legal team and insurance policies.

Though an experienced car accident attorney would be helpful in any case involving a tow truck accident, they would be even more significant in one that involves company liability. Remember that neither the towing company nor the insurer is your ally in your quest for compensation.

Average Tow Truck Accident Settlements

A tow truck accident settlement depends on the injuries sustained and who is deemed at fault for the accident. The average settlement amount is around $43,000, but this can be much higher, especially with more vehicles involved or with a corporation facing liability for the accident.

With such a heavy truck involved in the crash, the chance of fatality is also greater in a tow truck accident than in another vehicular accident. Consider this case of wrongful death involving a truck that the insurance company claimed was not to blame for the accident. Only the use of surveillance footage from an adjacent house proved the defendant’s fault and won the client $3.2 million for the wrongful death of their family member.

This is an extreme example, but a tow truck accident settlement can be this high due to the possibility of wrongful death and company liability. As you can see in this case, the insurance company still tried to deny compensation despite the death of a family member, making it necessary for an attorney to step in and prove the case in court.  

What To Do After a Tow Truck Accident?

Many of the steps you should take after a tow truck accident are the same as after a normal vehicular crash. They mostly involve knowing who to notify and what evidence to gather.

  1. Call the police so that a police report can be filed on the accident. An officer will arrive on the scene to gather evidence.
  2. Get treated for your medical injuries ASAP, either on the scene or with an accredited emergency care provider immediately after the accident, regardless of whether they seem severe. Failing to do so will allow the insurance company to claim that you weren’t injured by the accident.
  3. Gather evidence at the scene, including the other driver’s personal, insurance, and company information, the plates of the truck, photos of the accident (including any towing damage your car sustained), and the contact information of any witnesses.
  4. Avoid posting about the accident on any public forums or social media sites. Don’t speak to the insurance adjusters about the accident, and don’t accept any of their offers without speaking to an attorney.

Recovering Damages After a Tow Truck Accident

To recover damages after a tow truck accident, you should begin processing your insurance claim as quickly as possible. This begins at the scene of the accident or soon after when you report the accident to your insurer. In some cases, an insurance adjuster will arrive on the scene to collect their own evidence.

You must accurately document the damages to your car, yourself, and your passengers to maintain consistency in your claim. This includes not only the immediate damage but also documentation about future medical treatments you may need, death certificates, therapy bills, medication receipts, and anything else related to your injuries.

Filing a Tow Truck Lawsuit

To win a tow truck accident settlement, you have to file your case properly and on time. Remember that every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases, some as short as one year and others as long as six years, which determines how long you have to file your case after the accident.

If your case with the insurance company fails to provide sufficient compensation, you may want to file a lawsuit to recover the rest of the cost. There are several possible defendants for your case, including the tow truck driver, the loader that put your vehicle in the truck, and the company that owns the truck.

Due to the possibility of multiple cases, multiple defendants, and millions of dollars in potential liability, insurance companies will fight hard to keep your compensation low. Remember that an experienced car accident attorney is your ally in your case, not the insurers. A lawyer can help you assemble the right evidence to win your case and file it within the required time limits.


A tow truck accident settlement can be in the millions but the average settlement is around $43,000. This includes cases involving collisions with tow trucks as well as those involving damage done to the cars being towed during normal operations. Speak with an experienced car accident lawyer about your case to learn if you may be eligible for compensation for damages from a tow truck accident, including potentially filing a personal injury suit against the driver or company if the insurer’s compensation doesn’t cover it.

Rocky Horton

Rocky Horton


Rocky Horton is a health and safety expert from Chapel Hill, NC. He is the founder of AccidentAdvisor and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, and other publications. Learn more.