Will I Need a Tow After an Accident?

Tow truck towing a broken down car on the service center repair Loading broken car on a tow truck on a roadside
Posted: March 21, 2024

Making seemingly mundane decisions under stressful circumstances can be difficult. That was the finding of a Harris Poll conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, which reported that one-third of adults surveyed reported COVID-related stress made more challenging everyday decisions as minor as what to wear or eat. 

Few events are as stressful as a motor vehicle accident, and yet, in the moments immediately following one, those involved must make many mundane decisions that can have critical long-term implications. 

Tow vs Driving After Accident 

One decision someone involved in a car crash must make is whether to have the car towed. While every situation is unique, many times the responding officer will make the decision and contact a towing company on your behalf. The most important thing after a New York car crash is not determining what to do with your car, but instead to look out for your physical wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you. Even if a car appears drivable, someone who is seriously injured may need to be ambulanced to the emergency department for treatment. Assuming EMT personnel decide that the injured motorist need not be transported by ambulance, determining whether a car is drivable is not always simple.   

Some things to consider when checking a car’s drivability 

Merely glancing at your car, giving it a cursory once-over, or checking to see if it starts often isn’t sufficient. Even if your car moved, it may have been damaged more than you think—even to the point at which it poses a danger to you and others.  

The New York Vehicle and Traffic Law has certain equipment requirements that can affect whether a vehicle is legally drivable on New York Roads. According to legal requirements, every vehicle driven on public roadways must have certain equipment, including but not limited to: 

  •  Adequate brakes and steering mechanisms in good working order and sufficient to control the vehicle when in use;  
  • A suitable and adequate horn or other device for signaling, which must produce a sound “sufficiently loud to serve as a danger warning”;  
  • Suitable wipers or other device which can clear a sufficient area of the windshields to provide reasonable driving vision; and  
  • Vehicles driven during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise or at any other time when windshield wipers are in use or whenever the vehicle is not visible for a distance of one thousand feet ahead must have: “at least two lighted lamps on the rear, one on each side, which must display a red light visible from the rear for a distance of at least one thousand feet”;  

Again, the responding police officer will generally determine whether vehicle damage has rendered a car inoperable or undriveable.  

Assess your emotions and physical condition 

Even if your car is deemed okay to drive, you yourself might not be fit to take the wheel. Take stock of yourself physically and emotionally. Some things to consider include whether you are 

  • Fearful or anxious? Such emotions, if overwhelming, can compromise decision-making.  
  • Shocked or confused? These emotions can make you disoriented and cloud your judgment. 
  • Injured or in pain? If you’re having trouble concentrating because you’re hurt, get a tow. 

If a vehicle is towed, the towing company and location where the vehicle is taken will appear on the police accident report. This information should be retained so that insurance companies can assess the property damage. In some cases, such as where it is alleged that a mechanical failure caused or contributed to the crash, the vehicle may need to be preserved to allow for an inspection. Most vehicles have event data recorders (EDR), also known as black boxes, which record certain pre-crash information.  A failure to preserve and maintain a vehicle can be considered spoliation of evidence.  


Hurt in a car? Call William Mattar. 

If you were injured in a New York car crash and are looking for experienced legal counsel, we can help. Our firm has more than two decades of experience helping car crash victims throughout the state of New York. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact the attorneys at William Mattar, P.C., today by calling  844-444-4444 or completing a free initial consultation form

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