So you’ve recently been involved in a traumatic car accident. Your car is completely smashed up and had to be towed from the accident scene. Now your car is stuck at a tow yard, you are sore, you are tired, and you are getting a letter in the mail from the insurance company saying something about you having to pay for tow yard’s storage fees. If this is happening to you, you are probably angry. You didn’t cause this accident, so how can the insurance company tell you that you have to pay for the storage of your vehicle?

The unfortunate reality is that in certain situations, the victim of a car accident can get stuck paying for storage fees. The basis for this is found in the North Carolina Administrative Codes (11 NCAC 04 .041), which contain the following paragraph:

“The insurer shall be responsible for all reasonable towing and storage charges until three days after the owner and storage facility are notified in writing that the insurer will no longer reimburse the owner or storage facility for storage charges.  Notification to the owner shall include the name, address, and telephone number of the facility where the vehicle is being stored.  Notification to the storage facility shall include the name, address, and, if available, telephone number of the owner.”

In the situation referenced in the first paragraph, the letter mentioned is called a “storage letter,” and the reason you are receiving one is because the insurance company is putting you on notice as required by 11 NCAC 04 .041. Once you receive a storage letter, the insurance company only has to pay for three more days of storage. What do you do if this is happening to you?

The first thing to do is to call an attorney that specializes in handling car accident claims. If you have recently been in an accident, then finances may already be tight, so you cannot afford to accrue a lot of storage fees. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to protect yourself in this situation. However, if you are unable to get an attorney, or if you are still looking for one, the following are a few simple steps to try to prevent these fees from overwhelming you.

First, try to contact the at-fault drivers insurance company and ask them to move the vehicle. If they have accepted liability, then they will most likely have no problem getting your vehicle out of storage and moved to a location that does not have storage fees. In order for the insurance company to move the vehicle you must first contact the tow yard and give them permission to release the vehicle to the insurance company.

If you are unable to reach the insurance company, or if they have not yet accepted liability, then the next step will be to contact your own insurance company. If you have the full coverage, you likely have coverage for towing and storage, so your insurance company could get the vehicle moved for you. Do not worry about your own rates going up – if you are not at fault for an accident, then your insurance company can bill the other insurance company for the costs of moving your vehicle, and that should prevent your rates from increasing.

If neither of these options are working for you, then the last option is to try to work something out with the tow yard. They may be willing to give you a discount if you can pay cash, and if you do this you do have a right to get reimbursed by the at fault insurance company.

If you are still facing a great deal of trouble from a situation like this, then it may be time to focus on hiring an attorney. Insurance companies and towing companies both rely on the ignorance of the accident victim in order to maximized profits. The insurance companies will try as hard as they can to avoid paying for your storage costs, and the towing companies would love to hang onto your vehicle for as long as they can so that they can rack up more and more fees. The best way for you to deal with these two predatory groups is by retaining a personal injury attorney to protect your interests. Without proper representation there is only so much you can do to fight back, but when you have an experienced attorney on your side, you know you will be properly cared for.

It is important to remember that not all law firms are the same. A car accident is a very personal situation. Your damages are uniquely personal to you, and in order to maximize your chances of success you need attorneys that recognize a simple truth: Personal Services Gets Results. If you have suffering a personal injury, then its time to contact the Law Offices of Brian deBrun. With over 50 years of combined experience handling personal injury claims, we understand what it takes to protect your claim, so contact our office today to schedule your free consultation!