Mitigate Your Damages

The duty to mitigate your damages comes up in practically every car accident case.  Mitigation is a legal term that refers to every person’s duty to take reasonable steps to minimize their damages.  While the issue of mitigation can arise in various contexts, the most common problem involves the accrual of storage fees on a vehicle that is towed from the scene of an accident to a tow yard.

Whether you have consented to it or not, the towing company that transported your car or truck from the scene of the accident to its tow yard has a statutory right to charge you storage fees.  And they can and do charge storage fees daily.  So for each that your car or truck sits at the towing company’s premises, storage fees are accruing.

Now you might think that you could simply object to the fees and not pay them.  That will not work.  By law, the towing company has a lien against your vehicle for the amount of the storage charges.  The lien is akin to the lien that a mechanic has for doing mechanical work on your vehicle.  If you take your car in for a transmission overhaul and you refuse to pay for the work, the mechanic will not give you your vehicle and will assert a lien against it and you will have to pay for the work to get your vehicle out of the shop.

The same goes for storage liens.  If you don’t pay the towing company for the storage charges, they won’t let you take your car out of their lot and you will have to pay for all of the storage fees before you can get your car out.

What’s more, the tow year will not keep your vehicle at its premises indefinitely.  After a set period, usually 30 days, the towing company can and will sell your car at an auction to pay for the storage charges.

If you don’t have the money to get your car out of a tow yard, put in on a credit card.  If  you don’t have anywhere to tow it to, have it transported to your home and leave it there until it is repaired or replaced.   Another option is that your attorney can also ask the insurance company for the negligent driver who hit you to have it towed to a tow free facility where it will not incur storage fees.