My dad used to say, “Son, there’s two kinds of people in this world. Those who have been in an accident and those who will be”. Mine happened two weeks after I bought my first car.
So, you’ve been involved in an accident. Hopefully you haven’t been injured. Or haven’t injured somebody else. The scene is being cleared and cleaned up by the tow truck company. And your car is sitting on the tow truck. Now what? Well, what happens next depends on a number of things: What type of insurance coverage do you have (or the person that hit you)?; Do you have a preferred repair facility?; If you don’t have insurance coverage are you able to pay the tow bill?
You do have the right to have your car towed to wherever you want. However, if it is not coming back to the tow impound yard the tow company will expect payment before dropping the vehicle. So if you want the car to go to a repair shop or your home be prepared to be charged even if you believe your insurance company will pay for the tow service. In many cases the repair shop will pay for the towing if you cannot do so at the time. Be advised that most repair shops will add an administrative charge on to the original tow bill to compensate for their outlay of cash.
If you do not know where to have your car taken or cannot pay for the towing services your car will be brought to the tow impound lot. Once it is there you will be charged storage fees as well. You can come to view your car and remove items from it but it will remain impounded until arrangements have been made for it to be removed. In most cases an insurance adjuster will be out to assess damages to the car and see if it is worth repairing. If it is (and you are covered) the insurance company will make arrangements to have the car towed to a repair shop and take care of all the towing and storage charges. If not, they will make arrangements to have it removed to a scrap yard and take care of the towing and storage charges.
If you do not have insurance coverage or if you are hit by someone that does not have insurance coverage you still need to deal with your car on your own. You can contact a local scrap yard, have them pay the tow bill, and hopefully have them give you a few bucks for the car as well. However, most scrap yards aren’t going to pay you what you feel your car was worth prior to the accident. You can contact the tow company and find out if they will accept the title to your car instead of payment. In AM/PM’s case we don’t. We will forgive storage charges but not the tow fee. We will not accept your title without payment for towing. Like I said, scrap vehicles aren’t worth much. A third option is to abandon your car completely. Yep, just walk away from it and don’t look back. Oh wait, there is one catch. If you abandon your car the tow company will file for, and eventually get, abandoned title. That is…ownership of your car. The downside for you is a law that the state of Arizona came up with a few years ago. If a car you own gets tagged with an abandoned title the next time you go to the MVD to register a car, change your address on your ID, or anything, you will be fined $500. MVD will not perform any work for you until the $500 is paid. Bottom line, don’t abandon your vehicle. It will just cause you trouble down the road.
The best thing to do if you are in an accident is contact your insurance company and find where you stand. If you’re covered great. Let them handle everything. That’s what you paid for. If not, get in touch with the tow company ASAP. Find out their policies and take your lumps.