If your vehicle requires towing after a motor vehicle accident, it’s important to understand your rights and obligations to ensure you’re not left in a position where you owe a tow operator hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Towing fees can add up quickly, and you may not be able to retrieve your vehicle until payment is made.
In Queensland, the Tow Truck Regulation Scheme covers most of the state. Under this scheme, tow truck operators are governed by the Tow Truck Act and Tow Truck Regulation. All tow truck vehicles, operators and any assistants must be licensed. The scheme does not regulate vehicle breakdown towing, trade towing or towing from private property, but it does cover operators who undertake towing after an accident.
A licensed tow truck must have markings on both sides that display the:
- Name, business, address, and telephone number of the licence or towing permit holder
- Classification of the tow truck
- Licence or permit number of the tow truck
- Tow truck number.
If the tow truck vehicle does not display these markings, it may be in breach of the Tow Truck Regulation Scheme.
Where has my car been towed?
If your vehicle cannot be driven away after an accident and needs to towed, you or an authorised officer (i.e. a police officer) must give permission your vehicle to be towed by the operator. The vehicle must be towed to the operator’s nearest holding yard by the most direct route, or to the police station if requested by the police.
An operator cannot charge you or your agent (i.e. an insurance/loss assessor) to inspect your vehicle during business hours. By law, the tow truck operator must keep the personal property in your vehicle in safe custody. However, we recommend that any valuables or other personal possessions be removed from your vehicle before it’s towed from the incident scene if it’s practicable for you to do so.
How much does towing after an accident cost?
The owner of the vehicle will be liable for the payment of towing charges even in an instance where the vehicle was towed under the authority of another person, like a police officer. Towing chargers are capped in Queensland – the maximum regulated amount that can be charged for a tow is currently $304.10 for the first 50km and $6.05 for every kilometre thereafter. This amount includes up to 60 minutes working time at the scene of the accident (preparing the vehicle for towing and cleaning up the scene), and up to 72 hours storage of the vehicle at a holding yard.
If you have not collected the vehicle after 72 hours, hefty storage fees will likely apply. These storage fees typically range from $44 to $60 per day. Any delay in collecting your vehicle or arranging your insurance claim will only add to your towing fees. We recommend you contact the tow yard as soon as possible after the accident. If you are unable to contact the tow yard yourself (due to injuries sustained in the accident or another circumstance), someone acting on your behalf can contact them about removing your car.
Who covers the towing charges?
Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the type of insurance your vehicle is covered by, your insurer may cover the towing fees. If you don’t hold comprehensive insurance, any towing charges you’ve incurred may not be covered, and you’ll most likely need to arrange for repair or salvage of the vehicle yourself.
It’s crucial to have your vehicle independently assessed as soon as possible to minimise towing fees. To help you with pursuing the other driver for damages, we can provide motorists in Queensland or New South Wales with information regarding towing after an accident. You will find these documents on our Resources page, along with some helpful links to the necessary forms.
If you require assistance pursuing another driver or their insurer for compensation, Sinnamon Lawyers can help. We are expert car accident lawyers who can help you recover damages owed to you from the at-fault driver. You can contact us on 1800 007 277 for an obligation-free assessment of your claim.