Midland, TX asked in Car Accidents for Texas

Q: My brother was killed in a rollover accident and the towing company released his property to his ex girlfriend

The towing company released all of his property including his car keys that had his safe keys on them. She stole everything my brother owned and refused to give us anything of his! She told the towing company she was his wife and that's a lie he was never married and they had broke up l! They didn't ask for proof of who she was or anything else! My brother had thousands of dollars worth of jewelry in his safe as well as other personal belongings that had no value to anyone else but was worth the world to us...can I sue the towing company for releasing his stuff to someone who wasn't related to or married to him

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1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: First of all, any complaints or concerns you have about a towing company can typically be made to the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation at towing@license.state.tx.us of (800) 803-9202.

Typically, the vehicle itself can only be released to the registered owner of the vehicle or someone with written authorization by the owner to pick up the vehicle (TDLR Form 1845).

Personal property, on the other hand, is another matter. A towing company cannot withhold personal property inside a motor vehicle from the owner of such property. A towing company should act like a reasonably prudent person in ascertaining whether a person claiming ownership is actually the owner of the property. What that looks like depends on the particular facts and circumstances of each case. For example, did she provide an ID with the same address as the registered address of the vehicle? Was she able to provide a distinctive characteristic of the property (e.g. a blue rabbit's foot attached to the key chain) to the company's representative?

The second part of your question is can YOU sue. That likely depends on whether you have been appointed as the personal representative of your brother's estate. If your brother has a last will & testament naming you as the executor of his estate, you can probate his will. If your brother died without a last will & testament and has no living children, you likely can probate his estate because you are one of his heirs at law. You can ask the probate court to appoint you as the administrator of your brother's estate. As executor or administrator, you would have the standing and responsibility of gathering together the property your brother owned when he died to distribute to his heirs. That would give you standing to sue the ex-girlfriend and the towing company for the missing items of property.

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