Legal Question in Personal Injury in California

On my way home, driving after midnight one evening, I began to feel dizzy and my vision blurred (I had not been drinking). I immediately drove into the parking lot of a veterinary clinic, and I parked in their "Handicap Only" space. I hung my legitimate and valid Disability Placard on my mirror, and phoned a friend who lived several minutes away. My friend came to help me, and I felt better after he arrived, but also felt it might be better not to drive. Thinking my car would be "safe" in the handicap space, I didn't get back to the parking lot until that afternoon (same day), to find that my car had been towed. Folks in the veterinary clinic said that they called to have it towed, since I wasn't in the clinic. I paid to get my car out of impound. It is true that I was not a client or customer of the veterinary clinic, but my car had the correct disability placard, displayed correctly and conspicuously. My car was not ticketed/cited and this happened in Los Angeles County. Was the clinic in the right to have my car towed If not, what might be a legal recourse, please ... or might the veterinary clinic be liable for my fees I paid to recover my car?

Asked on 10/28/09, 5:19 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

The clinic was well within its rights. Its parking lot is private property, and the clinic reasonably allows only customers on the premises to use it. Disabled drivers are not entitled to an exemption from this rule. Besides, while your car was there it prevented other disabled patrons from using the reserved parking space.

Your illness would likely be a valid defense to a charge of trespassing, since necessity is usually enough to defeat such a charge. But that does not relieve you of responsibility for the costs you caused the clinic to reasonably incur. Since the tow appears to be reasonable, it is you and not the clinic that must pay for it.

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Answered on 11/02/09, 5:34 pm
Melvin C. Belli The Belli Law Firm

Unfortunately the clinic could have you towed because it is their property and it was for their clients. You probably should have left a note saying why you parked there but they still could have towed you. By the way why did it take you so long to pick up your car?

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Answered on 11/03/09, 2:12 am

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