Tow-Truck Operators Are First Responders and May be Closer than 200 metres to an accident if no other First Responders have arrived

March 05, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Tow truck lifting damaged cars Free Vector

A recent ruling in Ontario courts had determined that a Region of Waterloo bylaw is inconsistent with provincial law. The ruling by Justice of the Peace James Ziegler determined that all car crashes are emergencies and that when tow-trucks arrive before police, fire or paramedics they must be considered emergency personnel.

The case was brought forward as a result of the Region of Waterloo laying a charge against a tow-truck operator for being within 200 m of the crash site. The Highway Traffic Act explicitly recognizes the role that tow-truck operators play in assisting in emergencies. Under the Act tow-truck operators are permitted to be within 200 metres when there isn’t another one at the scene.

Justice Ziegler went on to note that many parts of Waterloo Region are quite remote and that tow-truck operators may indeed be the first responder to an accident in these areas.  Justice Ziegler went on to state that when tow-truck operators are the first on scene they provide a role in the preservation of the scene and the safety of those involved in accidents until police and other emergency personnel arrive.

"The permission to tow truck operators to offer service in emergencies under section 177 is paramount province wide and is binding on the region," wrote Justice Ziegler.

The court has since dismissed the charges against the tow truck driver; however the Region and police will continue to enforce it until the legislation changes according to Regional Police Andre Johnson. The Region of Waterloo is now reviewing the court’s decision and considering options to take.

The Region has indicated that the bylaw was introduced in order to protect drivers and emergency services. Before it was in place it was not uncommon for several tow trucks to respond to an accident. This was considered predatory and often they were in the way of the emergency personnel.

The only tow truck that may be within 200 m of an accident are those called by a driver involved in the accident.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Automobile Accident Benefits, Car Accidents

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