Why this towing company has to pay $ 2,000 in damages

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If your client uses another vehicle and informally offers the driver of the other vehicle $ 500, that does not limit your client’s liability to $ 500. That’s a lesson from a BC Civil Resolution Tribunal ruling last week.

Tabatha Scroggie’s vehicle was damaged when a tow truck backed up in it. She took tow truck owner Earl’s Towing & Auto Wreckers Ltd. to CRT. Scroggie asked for a price of $ 2,005.58.

In Scroggie c. Earl’s Towing & Auto Wreckers Ltd., CRT member Chad McCarthy awarded Scroggie $ 1,989.22 in damages and $ 125 in CRT costs.

Earl’s Towing did not deny that one of his tow trucks backed up in Scroggie’s vehicle. But the towing company made a number of arguments to deny liability. On the one hand, Earl’s argued that the damage caused by the accident was only worth about $ 400, including $ 300 for spare parts.

“Earl’s said he was prepared to give Mrs. Scroggie $ 500 for the damage to the car, but I find that does not prove the value of the damage,” McCarthy wrote. He based his conclusion – that $ 1,989.22 is a reasonable estimate of the repair cost – on the $ 2,005.58 estimate from the collision center that worked on Scroggie’s car. McCarthy deducted the bill amounts for the cleaning by calculating just under $ 2,000. The work included repairs to the car’s right quarter panel, rear bumper and right tail light, as well as painting.

Earl’s claimed that Scroggie’s car was only worth about $ 1,000. But Earl’s provided no evidence – such as used vehicle pricing information, other repair estimates, parts and labor pricing information – to support his argument as to to the value of Scroggie’s car or that the collision damage was only about $ 400, McCarthy wrote.

As evidence, Scroggie submitted an undated photo of his pre-crash car that shows no obvious rear damage. She also submitted a post-crash photo showing a broken right taillight lens, a cracked right rear bumper, and cracked and shattered body panels surrounding the right taillight lens.

Earl’s argued that Scroggie’s boyfriend was guiding the tow truck as it backed up and therefore the boyfriend should pay damages. Scroggie’s boyfriend is not named as a party to the CRT dispute.

Part of Scroggie’s evidence was video of the crash. This video briefly showed a person walking past the camera before the collision, but that person was facing the tow truck, McCarthy wrote. He discovered that Scroggie’s boyfriend was not communicating with the tow truck driver or giving him any driving advice.

“After weighing the evidence submitted, I find that Ms. Scroggie’s car was positioned just behind the tow truck and was clearly there to be seen, but Earl’s driver returned to the parked car,” McCarthy wrote. He cited British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act, which says the driver of a vehicle should not back it up unless the movement can be done safely.

Featured image via iStock.com/aranozdemir


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