Tow Hearings were designed to be a quick and easy remedy. The idea was that if your car was towed, you could go to court and apply for a tow hearing, talk to a judge, and he or she would make a determination of whether or not probable cause existed for the removal of your vehicle. At that point, either you win or lose. Unlike a traditional lawsuit, Tow Hearings have quick deadlines and no discovery. Unfortunately, there is very little that is “quick and easy” in law, and a Tow Hearing is no exception. This post reviews a few common mistakes made at Tow Hearings.
Get the Right “Person” at the Tow Hearing. Most people do not realize that the term “person” is defined by statute in Texas. See Tex. Gov’t. Code § 311.005. It does not just mean a human being. The term “person” in Texas encompasses a corporation, limited liability company, a partnership, and many other business entities and structures. Id. Additionally, business entities and individuals in Texas can operate under assumed names, which may be found either in the county records, at the Secretary of State, or both depending on the diligence of the business. In the case of a Tow Hearing application, that means you are looking for two “persons.” First, you’re looking for the person who is the the parking facility owner or law enforcement agency that authorized the tow. Tex. Occ. Code § 2308.456(b)(4). Second, you are looking for the person who is the vehicle storage facility where the vehicle was placed. See generally, Tex. Occ. Code § 2308.458(b)(5); . You also want to sue them in the correct name so that the award orders the correct person to pay. If you name the wrong person, your could end up with a worthless judgment.
Get the Tow Hearing Request in Before 14 Days. A request for Tow Hearing must be submitted the the court “before the 14th day after the date the vehicle was removed.” See Tex. Occ. Code § 2308.456(a). The Texas Towing and Booting Act provides for very limited exceptions to this rule. Additionally, the language of the statute is not entirely clear on how the 14 days are calculated. For an extended analysis of the Tow Hearing filing deadline, CLICK HERE.
Deliver Proper Notice to the Court. Tex. Occ. Code § 2308.456 spells out what must be in a request for Tow Hearing. These are not optional. The statutes specifically states that a request for tow hearing must contain the items in § 2308.456(b). The statutes goes on to state that a person who fails to deliver a request in accordance with § 2308.456(a) waives the right to a Tow Hearing. See Tex. Occ. Code § 2308.456(d). Thus, if an applicant for a Tow Hearing misses these, he or she could potentially lose the hearing before it even begins.
While Tow Hearings are designed to be easy. However, this does not relieve an applicant from delivering proper notice to the court.