My RV was pulled out of the ditch. I was told it would be $100 but the bill was over $300. I put a stop payment on my check, now they are sueing me in court saying they can get three times the amount, is this true?
State/Country relating to question: Washington
All I have done is respond to the court.
Does the court paperwork contain a request for double or triple damages?
Does the court paperwork list any Washington statute that they are basing this claim on or have they told you verbally what statute or law they are relying on to tell you that they can get triple damages (I am asking you this because a double or triple damage award is typically the consumer's remedy against a business -- not the other way around).
The collection agency sent me paperwork saying that if one cancels a check on an impounded vehicle that triple damages can be incurred. I didn't think I was impounded so didn't worry about it. Now that the court date is coming up I am worried. . .
court paperwork doesn't list anything but the date of court March 7th at 2pm.
Did they refer in writing to a Washington statute? This is not something I have heard of in any state but give me about 10 minutes to take a look and see if there is something new or quirky with the WA law. THey may even be referring to a statute that can be used by law enforcement but not against the general public (and you were not impounded anyway -- you are definitely correct on that one) -- but, just confirm for me that there is no actual statute listed in the paperwork -- and if there is a statute listed, please let me know what that statute is.
They did send a statute but I threw the paper away and now they are saying all the paperwork is not with them but at their attorneys place awaiting trial next Wed so I can't give you that info at this time.
I will find it with a bit of research -- do you mind giving me 45 minutes - ish. It could be sooner but I don't want to say that in case it takes me a bit longer. You do not have to stay in Just Answer -- you will get an email when I post the answer for you.
OK, thank you very much in advance.
I was thinking of using 'bait and switch' in my answer to the judge but am afraid the judge will be on the business side of things. any suggestions to use for the trial?
Hello again --
Please see below.
Okay. RCW 46.55.120 Redemption of Vehicles is the statute I believe they are referring to. This Statute States: Vehicles that are impounded pursuant to 46.05.080 (overstaying time restrictions in parking); 46.05.085 (Impounding of a vehicle blocking a right of way); 46.05.113 (when arrested for license suspended or revoked -46.20.342 and 46.20.345); and 9A.88.140 (impoundment for arrest when soliciting prostitution) may be redeemed under the following circumstances:
"(e) The vehicle or other item of personal property registered or titled with the department shall be released upon the presentation to any person having custody of the vehicle of commercially reasonable tender sufficient to cover the costs of towing, storage, or other services rendered during the course of towing, removing, impounding, or storing any such vehicle, with credit being given for the amount of any security deposit paid under (b) of this subsection. In addition, if a vehicle is impounded because the operator was arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.342 or 46.20.345 and was being operated by the registered owner when it was impounded under local ordinance or agency rule, it must not be released to any person until the registered owner establishes with the agency that ordered the vehicle impounded or the court having jurisdiction that any penalties, fines, or forfeitures owed by him or her have been satisfied. Registered tow truck operators are not liable for damages if they rely in good faith on an order from the impounding agency or a court in releasing a vehicle held under a suspended license impound. Commercially reasonable tender shall include, without limitation, cash, major bank credit cards issued by financial institutions, or personal checks drawn on Washington state branches of financial institutions if accompanied by two pieces of valid identification, one of which may be required by the operator to have a photograph. If the towing firm cannot determine through the customer's bank or a check verification service that the presented check would be paid by the bank or guaranteed by the service, the towing firm may refuse to accept the check. Any person who stops payment on a personal check or credit card, or does not make restitution within ten days from the date a check becomes insufficient due to lack of funds, to a towing firm that has PROVIDED A SERVICE PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION OR IN ANY OTHER MANNER the towing firm in connection with services rendered pursuant to this section shall be liable for damages in the amount of twice the towing and storage fees, plus costs and reasonable attorney's fees"
The applicable provisions to your situation (possibly) are bolded and underlined above. Also, please read what I put ALL IN CAPS in the quote from the statute above.
First, if your vehicle was not impounded at the direction or a law enforcement officer and you are not redeeming the vehicle after having it impounded for any of the items referenced in the first paragraph, this statute does not apply. If you simply called them to help you get out of a ditch without the impoundment of the RV then you have a strong argument that this statute does not apply to you and your situation and the towing company is simply trying to use this against you to twist what is a case of a consumer (you) calling for a general retail service (the help out of the ditch) and expecting to pay a reasonable price (about $100). So your argument is this "The statute that the collection agency is referring to does not apply to this situation because my vehicle was not impounded pursuant to any of the items in this statute. The towing company gave me a general price of $100 and I probably would not have been surprised if it was as high as $150 because I realize that it happens at times -- however, increasing the amount by $200 is way too much and seems to me to be a "bait and switch" situation on an unsuspecting consumer who had no choice at the time but to pay the price they stated".
Now, the only thing that concerns me is the language I have above in capitals where it states "in any other manner" -- they might be able to stretch this to apply to any situation where a person requests towing services and then has issues with the check presented by the customer. I have not found anything in the Washington law that tells me that they can do this -- however, not all decisions from lower courts are reported in the case law books so there could be situations where the courts have permitted tow companies to use this statute in this manner and the decisions are just not reported in the law books.
Here is a link to the statute: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.55.120
I have to step out for about an hour or so, but if you have further questions I will respond when I get back online about 8:30 pm EST. In the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would press ACCEPT so I will know that I am paid for this particular session because I did do the research for you to give you the answers (including looking up all of the other statutes that this main statute is referring to to determine if any of those offenses or reasons for impound or use of a towing company were applicable to you). I will answer follow up questions even after you press ACCEPT,
13 years experience in Consumer Protection law, in particular construction law and auto repo law
I went to the District court almost a month ago and lost. I have to pay at least a thousand dollars (they did not send me the paperwork). I will not pay it. My question is; how long will it legally take for them to get a garnishment and/or leins on my titles possesions?
I am sorry to hear this -- and I do not think this was a correct ruling in this case because it permits the tow operator to run roughshod over the general public and charge whatever they want to charge -- if the police had called them and were involved in getting your RV out, then I would say the statute applies -- but under the circumstances of your case, you are an honest person who called them yourself and asked for an honest estimate and you might have even paid it if it was a bit higher but not outrageous, correct?
Have you contemplated filing an appeal? You might want to check at the clerk's office and ask what the appeal procedure and cost is. Typically the appeal must be made in 20 to 30 days after the original court order is issued.
To answer the question you posed -- they will have to apply to the court for another hearing where the court will ask for your financial information to see if you can pay this and if the court deems that you can they will order you to pay. Then if you do not pay they can bring it back in and ask for a wage garnishment. Be careful when/if you want to try to stretch this out because they can make you pay for attorney fees for every time it must go to court and this bill could get really high if you keep doing that.
Please press the GREEN ACCEPT BUTTON so I will be paid for my time. I am paid nothing unless you press ACCEPT below or on the side of this ANSWER box. THANK YOU !!
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).