Most consumers, specially in south Florida, dread the moment they come back to their cars, and find that their vehicle has been towed. The experience can be awful. If you were going to pick up your child, you have to call someone to do it for you. If you were going to a meeting, reschedule. If you were going to work, call late. If you were going to school, miss class. Endless circumstances affected by the fact that your vehicle—in a state with little or no public transportation—was towed.
But you are not powerless. Thankfully, Florida legislature realized the problem that predatory towing practices create in consumers’ lives. Thus, Florida enacted very strict towing laws. In fact, Florida, unlike other statutes or rules, requires that “[t]he towing or removal of any vehicle or vessel from private property without the consent of the registered owner or other legally authorized person in control of that vehicle or vessel is subject to strict compliance.” Florida Statutes 715.07 (2)(a). The key words here are “strict compliance.” In other words, if the towing company failed to comply with any of the requirements of the statutes, they could be responsible not only for your damages, but for the fees you had to pay a lawyer to recover these damages.
There are several requirements in Section 715.07 of Florida Statutes that are important to note, and that may help you fight towing companies back.
For example 715.07(2)(a)(9) specifically prohibits that a towing company make you “sign a release, before their vehicle is returned.” Often times, before you even have a chance to see if your vehicle is damage-free, you are made to sign a release of liability essentially saying that the towing company is not responsible for any damage to the vehicle.
Additionally, the towing company its required under Section 715.07 (2)(a) 2, to notify the municipal police department within 30-minutes of picking the vehicle. Failure to do it may render the tow unlawful.
Finally, there are strict signage requirements in Section 715.07(2)5 a-d. Some of them are: Two inch font, light reflective letters, located 3-feet from the ground, and others. In a strict compliance rule, the tow of you vehicle may have been unlawful based on signage failures, even if the place where you parked is questionable.
What do we recommend?
- If you have concerns that your vehicle may be towed in a particular location, take a photo of the place where you parked your car and keep it. It’ll be useful should you have to file a case to recover damages.
- Do not sign a release before you have inspected your car. And if they don’t let you inspect it, write in it: “Did not let me inspect” in the receipt.
- Call the police to see if your tow was reported.
- Keep all documents, receipt, photos, and evidence of the incident.
- Call an experienced towing lawyer for advice.
The more people take these steps, the more we can, together, fight predatory towing practices. Call Ayala for a consultation at 305-570-2208.