Tow trucks have always been the first ones to arrive at the scene of car accident. And since there is a considerable number of motor vehicle accidents not only in the state of New York, but also in other states as well, tow trucking business operators have also multiplied in number. Other tow truck operators even volunteer once in awhile to search for and come to damaged motor vehicles’ assistance. Tow trucks are needed to promptly clear or rid the places of accident with debris and damaged vehicles that may be dangerous for other motorists and may even cause more traffic. This case, as reviewed by an expert, is not a personal injury case but a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of some parts of an ordinance. It is also not a criminal case.
The plaintiffs (Albrecht, et al) involve several tow truck operators in the town of Hempstead who collectively claim that some parts of “Operation of Tow Cars”, the ordinance governing the operation of tow trucks in the area, are constitutionally questionable. According to the plaintiffs, section 12.0 of the ordinance must not be enforced because it is not regulatory but prohibitory in nature. The plaintiffs however agree that tow trucking business must be regulated but the ordinance must be amended because it is unfavorable to tow trucks businesses and their rights to operate.
Our expert explains that section 12.0 of the “Operation of Tow Cars” ordinance describes that it is unlawful to solicit tow jobs by driving around and parking on any street or other vacant spots to wait for accidents and peddle tow jobs to victims of car accidents. In addition, a tow truck has to be requested by the car accident victims themselves, a representative or the police to help tow the damaged vehicle. They are the only ones authorized to call the assistance of a tow truck. Furthermore, it is prohibited to respond to tow truck service calls made by unauthorized individuals like cab drivers, bystanders not related to the victim or even gas station attendants.
To start with, ordinances such as this are presumably constitutional and that they are made to protect the majority. They are favorable to many people in a way that the said ordinance helps protect the public from being cheated and charged with overpriced towing services. Also, the Town Board ordinance was enacted to prevent a car accident victim from getting harassed and preyed upon by tow truck operators regardless of the victim’s post-accident state. The plaintiffs even testified that it is normal to find 5-6 tow trucks rush to the scene of accident all at once, with everybody trying to find every opportunity to close a deal with the car crash victim. This does not only confuse the victim more, who is likely in a daze after an accident, but they are also likely to interfere with police investigations and add to traffic build-up in the area.
Defendants (The Town of Hempstead, et al) and Plaintiffs agree that car accidents can happen anytime, anywhere and may even happen where telephones are not accessible. They also agree on the fact that the condition of the car crash victim may render him or her unable to decide or think on her own clearly because of the accident. Also, the parties agree that policemen try their best to act quickly to report the accident and that there is a need for tow trucks to be regulated in the area. Moreover, the number of tow trucks in the past exceeds what is normal that cause traffic and more confusion than they should. To support their claim that some parts of the Town Board ordinance are unconstitutional, the Plaintiffs cited cases for the Court to review. Unfortunately they failed to convince the court for several reasons.
According to our source, the Defendants must be able to prove that parts of the ordinance must truly be unconstitutional and must seriously interfere with the tow truck business and rights to operate in the area. However, it was found out that section 12.0 did not prohibit anything since the tow trucks are still authorized to pull damaged cars but only as requested by authorized persons like the victim himself or herself, a representative or a police. This does not prohibit but rather, allow them still to operate in the same manner as if a car crash victim would choose only one of five tow trucks who are waiting to solicit their services. In addition, by allowing the ordinance to prevail, the welfare of the public prevails because tow trucks will not cause traffic each time there is a car accident.
Moreover, tow trucks will not be able to slow down police work and even violate traffic rules just to be able to get to the scene first. Also section 12.0 of the ordinance does not prohibit business because as long as car accidents happen, there will always be a need for a tow truck service. What the section 12.0 of the ordinance prohibits is the relentless solicitation, harassment of an emotionally upset car crash victim and interference with the investigation. Furthermore, it was mentioned that the constitutionality of the ordinance does not mean it has to be without flaws.
Our expert went on to reveal that the plaintiffs further questioned other parts of the ordinance concerning the non-transferability of the tow truck operator’s license. Since the Town of Hempstead has the responsibility to issue licenses, they also intend to know the person who owns the license and they countered that any permit or license cannot be bought or sold and are really there to identify which tow operator is responsible for the dispatched tow truck in a car accident scene. Next, the Plaintiffs also questioned the rule that requires disclosure of past convictions in license application. The Town of Hempstead countered that the reason for this is because an applicant involved with misdemeanor is not fit to work for a towing company.
Tow trucks are also prohibited to make a deal or provide estimate of towing and repair services to a victim of a car crash if the said victim to be hospitalized with injuries until 24 hours post accident, unless the victim was discharged immediately. This was enacted to protect the victim from being harassed at a time when it is difficult or impossible to make even the smallest decisions like those involving towing services. The Defendants contend that this time is reasonable enough and that tow truck services will not be grossly affected if they wait for 24 hours before they could issue the estimate to the victim. Other claims of unconstitutionality of the ordinance were also dismissed.
At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, we do not only provide you counsel services for personal injuries but we will also assist you with lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of laws and other regulations. Our New York Injury Lawyers as well as our other NY Litigation Attorneys who specialize in different areas of practice are always ready to assist you with your cases so you will achieve the right compensation and justice that you deserve. Your rights must always be recognized, call one of our offices in New York and experience the best representation available in the country.