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Old 10-14-2019, 09:20 PM   #1
MajinVejitaXV
Scooby Newbie
 
Member#: 71162
Join Date: Sep 2004
Vehicle:
1997 Eagle
Talon NA

Default A Request for Help from MAIC (Improper Towing of my 2018 STI)

NASIOC/MAIC Crew,

Longtime member here with a request for help. As a whiny blitzball player once said, listen to my story...

Last year I went though a breakup with a girl I'd been with for 7+ years. I won't bore you with the details, but basically it was a situation where I had to have her leave and take over the lease for a two bedroom apartment in Fairfax (which, as some of you probably know, isn't the cheapest place to live) or incur a heavy penalty for breaking the lease. Additionally all the stuff that was split between the two of us fell on me solely. So, financially I was in pretty bad shape. I managed to make it through the end of the term (which was 10 months) and relocate to a more affordable place and started catching up on stuff that I'd fallen behind on. Nothing was in default, but a few items were behind in the 30-60 day range.

One of those was my car, a 2018 WRX STI Limited that I bought in March to celebrate having cleared all of my debts (not knowing that 3 months later I'd be thrown back into a sorry financial state). I was 61 days late and had just made a payment, my intention being to take a loan against my 401k to clear everything and bring myself current. Unfortunately, on July 11th, I left work for the day to find my car gone. I called the bank financing the car, they confirmed they had repossessed it, but immediately reinstated the loan and told me that I simply needed to pay my account current and pay a repo fee (which was $685). I did so the next day but, due to the bank and the repo company not communicating as quickly as I would have hoped, I was informed that the earliest I could go and reclaim my car was the following Monday. I was told that I would have to pay $15/day (for a maximum of 10 days, or $150). If the repo company asked for more, I was to call the bank. I was also told that I would need to sign a waiver of liability when I picked up the car, and that if anything was wrong with the car not to sign and to call the bank.

Here's where we get into the actual issue I need help with.

The car was towed from my work, which has several HD security cameras. I found the footage of my car being towed and noticed that the guy who towed my car did so completely improperly. He towed the car with the rear wheels down, at first even with the parking brake on (in the footage he moves the car out of the parking space, goes forward a few feet then stops, goes into my car and drops the brake then leaves for the nearest on-ramp to I-95 south). Since I was told the car was in Fredericksburg, which is 40+ miles away, and I know what kind of damage this can do I called both the repo company and the bank. The repo company said they weren't aware of the car having been towed in this manner, but said "it shouldn't have been." The bank asked me to send proof in the form of the videos and an estimate for the damages and provided an email address. I told them that the attachments I had wouldn't go through email because of their size and asked if they had a secure upload portal, as most companies do, but they said no. I told them that I wasn't comfortable signing any sort of liability waiver given the likelihood that the car was damaged (and in an expensive manner) and instead asked if we could get the car evaluated by a professional. I called Sheehy Subaru and they said they'd be happy to look at the car, and I tried to arrange for a tow but couldn't get all parties on the same page.

I engaged my car insurance at this point, who gave me a secure upload portal for the videos and immediately called me back saying that I was absolutely right and the person towing obviously had no idea what he was doing. We both began an email thread with the bank, wherein I provided screenshots and a timeline/narrative along with documents from the owner's manual showing that the manner that the car was towed in would cause damage and asking for the bank to facilitate the evaluation of the vehicle by a professional. The bank seemingly ignored me, instead having their call center staff call me and continually ask for the information I'd already provided before they indicated that the repo company would not allow the vehicle to be evaluated. My insurance company told me they could do nothing at this point and I continued to pursue the issue until finally, after weeks, the bank indicated an adjuster would be permitted to come on-site to evaluate the vehicle. Unfortunately, at this point, my insurance company stated that this would do no good as the damage in question was mechanical and the only way to accurate assess the vehicle would be to have the car evaluated by a qualified professional. Both the bank and my insurance told me that I would need to go get the car, take it to a shop and once I had proof I could contact them to take action. I noted that the whole problem with that was the requirement that I sign the waiver of liability (which my bank agreed was a completely valid concern, then in the same sentence told me to do it anyway). I told my bank at this point that I wanted my claim escalated and that I also wanted a copy of the towing invoice (to show the equipment used and the mileage of the tow) and a copy of the waiver of liability. At this point my bank went completely silent.

My account has remained in good standing with the bank, and as of this week I have been without a car for three months. To add to the issues here, I was in the middle of getting in to see a doctor for my mental health and this whole thing has not only kept me from doing so but also cost me a lot of money and caused my mental health to suffer to a great extent. I take full responsibility for letting the account fall behind, and it's something that I don't intend to let happen again, but I'm unable to reconcile the bank telling me not to sign anything if the car is damaged but then telling me to sign when the probability of damage is almost guaranteed. On top of that, from speaking with several individuals who've worked in auto finance, the way the bank handled this seems...odd. I didn't receive a notice (I'm on paperless statements and everything I get is usually in my account online) and my loan being reinstated within minutes of calling the bank, from what I've been told, is highly unusual. Several people have remarked that it seems like the bank may have messed up in repossessing the car, given that I was behind to such a (in the grand scheme of things) minor extent and had also made a payment 3 weeks prior.

So, my question to all of you is...what is my best course of action here? I've had people indicate that filing a lawsuit is likely the next step I have to take, but I'm not even sure who I would file the suit against and what kind of suit it would be. This whole thing has turned my world upside down at a time where I was finally pulling myself out of a really dark year that took a massive toll on me, and despite all parties saying that I'm completely right and that I have more than enough evidence to prove liability no one seems willing to do anything but say "Yes, that bottle of bleach says the contents are fatal if ingested, but until you drink it we won't know, so...bottoms up."

I appreciate any help or guidance anyone can provide. If you read this far, I appreciate that also.
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Old 10-14-2019, 11:00 PM   #2
Lone Wolf 75
Scooby Specialist
 
Member#: 2221
Join Date: Aug 2000
Chapter/Region: MAIC
Location: White Marsh, MD
Vehicle:
2018 Subaru WRX
Lapis Blue Pearl

Default

If I were in your situation, I would:

Make sure I had copies of the video files of your car being improperly towed away - can you clearly identify your car in the security video? A clearly legible license plate would confirm beyond reasonable doubt that your car was towed.

Documentation that AWD cars, specifically your make and model, cannot be towed on two wheels. I'm pretty sure the owners' manual states it pretty clearly.

You mentioned that your bank has been silent since getting your claim escalated. Follow up with them again, and try to speak with someone higher up if necessary. I'd be persistent and explain your situation and reluctance to sign the waiver of liability paperwork until you have the car inspected and it is given a clean bill of health by a certified mechanic. Whatever you do, don't sign the paperwork. Also, don't be a dick about it, but I would mention that you won't sign any statement of liability without your lawyer looking over it. Legal action will likely take a long time and is probably should be a last resort unless you already have a good lawyer on retainer, or a friend in law that can give you better advice.
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Old 10-14-2019, 11:20 PM   #3
sebhockey
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Member#: 138957
Join Date: Jan 2007
Chapter/Region: MAIC
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Vehicle:
2016 WRX STI Limited
DGM

Default

It certainly doesn't hurt to speak with a lawyer in this instance for advice (bring a copy of the liability waiver). That being said, legal action may not be in your financial best interest at this time. Taking legal action will likely take a good long while.

Given your recent circumstances I recommend looking out for your wallet right now first and follow what your insurance tells you to do. Keep in mind that your car is likely incurring storage fees sitting on a tow lot, that is not in your best interest and may be a harder fight than repairs to your drive train.

Have you read the liability waiver? Does it specifically indicate waiving responsibility for damages incurred due to them not towing properly? Keep in mind you pay for insurance for a reason, they work for you so they should be able to help you recover your deductible due to the towing company's negligence. Also food for thought what's the cost of your insurance deductible vs the storage fees?

Last edited by sebhockey; 10-14-2019 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:59 PM   #4
MajinVejitaXV
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Member#: 71162
Join Date: Sep 2004
Vehicle:
1997 Eagle
Talon NA

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lone Wolf 75 View Post
If I were in your situation, I would:

Make sure I had copies of the video files of your car being improperly towed away - can you clearly identify your car in the security video? A clearly legible license plate would confirm beyond reasonable doubt that your car was towed.
Yes. I have 1080p feeds from two angles where you can see the entire towing, including my license plate and the license plate of the truck doing the tow. You can also clearly see that nothing that is required to properly tow the car (a flatbed or dollies) is used. You can also see the truck exit the complex where I work with my car in this manner and head towards the nearby exit for I-95.

Quote:
Documentation that AWD cars, specifically your make and model, cannot be towed on two wheels. I'm pretty sure the owners' manual states it pretty clearly.
Already provided. I took the page from the owner's manual for my car (the PDF you can download from Subaru) and sent it to my insurance and the bank. The bank stated, before they stopped responding to me, that they understand and agree with my assessment but they cannot act until the damage is proven...but at the same time they've provided no means to have the car evaluated without me retrieving the car (which would require me to sign the waiver of liability).

Additionally, I forgot to mention this in the initial post, I tried to ping the diagnostics on the car via the Starlink app (to see if the AWD system would show an error) but the vehicle would not respond. Likely due to being in an area with poor reception.

Quote:
You mentioned that your bank has been silent since getting your claim escalated. Follow up with them again, and try to speak with someone higher up if necessary. I'd be persistent and explain your situation and reluctance to sign the waiver of liability paperwork until you have the car inspected and it is given a clean bill of health by a certified mechanic. Whatever you do, don't sign the paperwork. Also, don't be a dick about it, but I would mention that you won't sign any statement of liability without your lawyer looking over it. Legal action will likely take a long time and is probably should be a last resort unless you already have a good lawyer on retainer, or a friend in law that can give you better advice.
Yeah, I appreciate the advice. I'm trying, but the bank so far has seemingly firewalled me by (those who answer the phones) saying that the "claims department" can't be called directly and they don't have access to the system wherein all my information so far has been recorded. As a result I've been communicating via email to maintain a paper trail, with my insurance company copied on every single communication.

Quote:
It certainly doesn't hurt to speak with a lawyer in this instance for advice (bring a copy of the liability waiver). That being said, legal action may not be in your financial best interest at this time. Taking legal action will likely take a good long while.
Agreed, I just feel like I've been banging my head against the wall. Every single minuscule action I manage to wring out of the bank has taken multiple calls and emails where I've said the same thing over and over again. Case in point, I still haven't even gotten the liability waiver.

Quote:
Given your recent circumstances I recommend looking out for your wallet right now first and follow what your insurance tells you to do. Keep in mind that your car is likely incurring storage fees sitting on a tow lot, that is not in your best interest and may be a harder fight than repairs to your drive train.
True, the insurance company has indicated they would work to get my deductible back via subrogation, but my concern is with no alternative being given except to sign the waiver that I'll ultimately be told "Well, you signed a legally binding document certifying that the car was okay, so they have grounds not to pay." And since I can't even get a copy of the waiver I can't say what rights I would be signing away.

Also, per a close friend of mine who worked in insurance for years, I've been told that if that happens I'll likely be left having to sue anyway. The only reason I've let this drag on so long is because the storage fees are capped at $150.

I've also reached out to the dealership where I bought the car to see if they can advise.
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Old 10-15-2019, 07:43 PM   #5
sebhockey
Scooby Newbie
 
Member#: 138957
Join Date: Jan 2007
Chapter/Region: MAIC
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Vehicle:
2016 WRX STI Limited
DGM

Default

Can you go to the tow lot and get a copy of the waiver or take pictures of it? At the very minimum they can't stop you from reading it. It certainly can't hurt to read it thoroughly and see what you do agree to if you sign. If they won't work with you on that and you're not willing to sign and let insurance handle then it sounds like your only choice is finding a lawyer.
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Old 10-15-2019, 08:04 PM   #6
pickleSlapOG
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NJ
Vehicle:
2011 Sti Hatch
WRB

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Wow that's a situation, what ever happens hang in there, don't give up and stay positive!
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