Jump to content
  • Join the TowForce community.

    It looks like you're not logged in. Register to get started and to receive Tower Down Notices.

Prior Damage reporting

Recommended Posts

I recently had a club call and the casualty had significant prior damage.  I took pictures and when the driver arrived with the keys I documented the damage on the dispatch sheet and had the driver sign it.  It was a Zip car and the driver had already let Zip know when he picked it up.  This one was no issue but I sometimes get the dispatch information while I am out on the road on my cell phone.  When that happens I only have my manual receipts to make notes on so I want to get a Prior Damage report form so I can document it properly.  Does anyone have a form they would share?



A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a great friend will ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is what I came up with, any thoughts?  I am doing some club work now and want something to protect me from claims in the event someone files against me.  I would also take pictures as well.  My other question is, what would you do if someone refuses to sign, decline to do the work, or do it and mark the form as "refused to sign"?




A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a great friend will ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your forms look good. Short, sweet and to the point. I see no need to get very elaborate with them.

 As far as a customer refusing to sign, I Would really wonder why they are refusing. I would play every scenario by ear. A customer claiming they see no damage that you noted is a sure fire way to get yourself in a sling in my opinion. If it seems they are trying to snowball you into a bogus damage claim then I say cut bait n walk away. Politely of course..

Motor clubs just dont pay enough to start bickering with a customer over a ding or scratch. Theres better things to do like good paying jobs at your rates.

Edited by GRUMPS The Towman
  • Like 1


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks Good! However, my list would be


D - Dent

S - Scratch

P - Paint

M - Missing

G - Glass

W - Wheel/Tire


Don't forget "Glass" as it could be cracked or broken.

Also, I see no need for "Other" as it would be listed in

Additional Comments / Details


As well I would likely shift the legend to the Left more. Then

enlarge the vehicle images and set them side by side. Doing

this will create more room to mark on the vehicle drawing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ours lists each area individually, however working with what you listed I simply modified.


The only reason I left paint in there is because of Blemishes and fading. We have fade on ours, otherwise i would have left it out. Also, it seems I was focused on the list and totally missed there is not a line for the Vesicle Identification Number (VIN) and the License Plate should also be on there. Otherwise it isn't actually linked to the vehicle your inspecting.


Year  ________ Make _______________________ Model _______________________________


Plate _______________ VIN _________________________________________________________


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Mr. Stubb ... Ron and Grumps provided you good info, but requiring a signature on an inventory report, is that the same consideration as requiring someone to sign a hold harmless agreement? Mr. McGoven oftentimes comments that hold harmless agreements aren't worth much in-court. Technically, are they one in the same? I personally required my drivers to prepare a solid photo inventory that's well documented and shoot for the owner to sign. But, what about vehicles where no owner or responsible party is present?


If they don't sign or aren't willing to sign, one has to consider their motive. Is requiring having someone sign the form one of those stupid, "I signed under durress", conditions in having their car towed?  While it's never the best solution to refuse the non-signing party service, I believe a solid, "photo inventory", is the tower's best evidence especially combined with written documentation like what you're preparing. 


May I include one more suggestion to add? Left of the, "Date", location, there's space to add a line to indicate, "Call Number or Incident Number", to also tie the report to the exact vehicle and other documentation. You can never have enough info ...  I like the inclusion of the, "Comments", box.


Most tow companies (here) requiredrivers to take as many as six pics per vehicle, especially police towers. Our drivers are trained to focus on pictures of locations where common damage occurs and those said to be typical tow damages, i.e., under front valances stuffed nose first, both front and rear plates visible, outside edges of rims scuffed/scratched, missing mirror glass, windshield rock stars, missing radio antennaes, rear tailpipe's dragged, and paying special attention to damaged CV-boots. It's all a process right?


When documentation is solid and presented in-court, towers typically prevail. However, auto club representatives are quick to call tower's at-fault before tow damage is proved. I personally loathe how auto clubs handle damage claims. Good for you for taking time to see that you pre-towed damage inventory is complete.  I salute your efforts.        R. 

Randall C. Resch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too forgot the Vin #. and I will include the call number.


I did not intend this to be in lieu of pictures, I will certainly take them as well.  As for standing up in court, if it came to that and they were to rule against me, so be it.  I would not like it but at least I did my due diligence.  As for someone who would not sign, in my mind there is definitely an ulterior motive.  I would call the club, assuming it is a club call and let them tell me what to do and get it documented with them.  If it is a private tow, I would likely walk away.


I also realize that breaking this out and documenting prior issues I better not miss anything because I now have a document that states prior damage and if they come back at me with something else it would be hard to disprove.


What got me onto this was a recent Zip car that I moved that was all beat up.  I didn't have anything to document it on so I used the Dispatch sheet from the club and had the driver sign it as well as taking pictures.  I wanted to get something more formal for those occasions.


Thanks for all the input.


LOL I made a junk run today and made a days pay and didn't have to worry about this stuff!

A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a great friend will ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe the signature line is for the tow operator completing the vehicle inspection.


We simply initial the condition report rather than use our name. We also do not have reason to have anyone sign such a form that isn't a legal document. I see it as problem this way, since someone may find damage that was there prior to the tow and not documented. Although pictures can sometimes catch such damage, even a small flaw undocumented can be costly. So, it is best to take quick photos on scene then move to a well lit and safe location and fill in the condition report. I would likely remove the signature lines and do this instead.


Reference Number: ______________________ Completed by: ________________


The reference number can be any number to identify the vehicle other than the description.

Completed by will be the tow operators initials and those will be unique to that operator.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to offer a little piece of the puzzle that might help: get an app for your phone that puts a date and time stamp on your pictures.  There are plenty out there; I use Timestamp Camera pro (I think it costs $4 or $5) - it's got a lot of options, you can even include GPS locations stamped right there in the picture.  Actual coordinates, or street address, etc. I mostly just use it for date and time.  For PPI tows that works great for me as it shows when I was on the scene.  The GPS coordinates can be a little laggy so I quit depending on it for proving exactly where I was at the moment; it works fine but sometimes I don't have the time to wait for it to update to where I am that very second.


Pictures are great; pictures that prove what time you took them are even better.  And in some cases, where you took them.  Pictures don't really cost you anything, and if you're on the scene with the owner, taking plenty of pictures can already give them the idea that there's no use in trying to make false claims against you.


First address on property censored, second address at the storage lot so I'm not divulging any trade secrets (contracts, lol) but it gives you an idea of what's easily attainable from those apps.  That same picture taken on the scene before loading shows the vehicle at the contract address and also another taken when dollies are popped up before leaving the property, as proof their AWD vehicle was dollied (actually, this one may have been an electric parking brake; can't remember...)








Edited by someotherplace
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't get too crazy with my documentation. If I notice something I'll take a picture of it, my phone automatically time stamps and geo codes the picture as I take it. If I do something that's unattended, especially an impound, I'll do pictures of all 4 corners and any prior damage I find and if I remembered my go pro I'll film the whole tow. I try to get a good bit of background in the picture so they can tell it's in the same spot I found it. 


If it's a AAA call I'll make a note in the call comments before I close it, and I usually will point it out to the member. Case in point today, I did a lock out for the club on my way home. The owner had the keys in her hand, but the lock on the driver's door was frozen. I always go to the passenger side anyway, but I made sure to note it in the comments as well as the reason she couldn't access her car. I especially take photos of the failed lock out attempts, such as this one...


If I go a different route then the failed path I'll document that as well...



Along with that, if I dolly a car I take a picture of the car on dollies. Too many people tell the shop that I wheel lifted the car, then the shop tells them to come after me for the transmission damage, even without the being any. All it usually takes is the picture of all 4 wheels off the ground to clear me. I've actually been blamed for losing a hook cover on a Lexus, even after I pointed it out to the customer. Luckily the guys driveway was a perfect spot for a picture and I took one of my truck and his car for our Facebook page, I once I showed him the picture and explained I didn't need the hook he "remembered" our conversation about how it was already missing. 


I also document the reason for the tow and anything I find underneath. Since I drive a wheel lift they always want to blame me for abs and traction control lights, so if I see those on I take a picture. If I find anything damaged or rotted underneath I take a picture, usually to show the shop to look at it closer when they get it in the air.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pictures are a great way to note damage. I dont take pics of every run of the mill tow But I do the 4 corners, front and rear lips and obvious damage on EVERY ppi or Unattended impound. I gotta say, in my 26 years I have only had maybe 6 people really push the issue of what I call "Phantom damage" and the pics shut them down every time. Now on the other hand, Whenever I have made a mistake and caused any type of damage, I own up to it Immeadiatly  and work with the customer to get it resolved. Too many people in this industry play the "not my problem" game And I just dont see the point. We are human. mistakes are made sometimes. I consider myself to be an excellent towing and recovery operator But I still have caused damage. Owning up to your mistakes shows the customer your integrity. I know of one customer in particular that I had caused a bit of damage to his vehicle and because of the fact that I went right to him and explained what had happened  and rectified the damage, he became a lifelong, regular customer.

The point I am getting at is although it is great to set up all this to cover your butt for the phantom damage, Just be equally prepared to deal with any damage you may actually cause


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Grumps, I agree 100%, if I do the damage I make it right.  I recently put a clutch in a Cruze and installed a long bolt in the bell housing where a short one should have gone, end result I busted the block.  I got her an engine with 20K less than what it had on it and made it right.  That lady has referred other customers to me based on that, I will make that money back over and over.

I paid for that out of pocket, to date, I have never had to make a claim with my insurance carrier.  I would prefer to take the hit now and again rather than get the insurance involved.  Thankfully, there haven't been too many miss steps over the years.   This year, shopping insurance, one of the questions from each company was "have you had any claims in the past three years".


As I get deeper into towing I just what to cover my butt for the "Phantom Damage" as you call it. 


I don't take pictures of every call but if I see damage or if the customer rubs me the wrong way when I interact with them I want pictures and documentation.  To me, this form will be part of that process and hopefully discourage anyone from trying the Phantom Damage thing.

A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a great friend will ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...
Please Sign In or Sign Up