Lawsuits: BGH rules on parking fees for towed cars

Lawsuits: BGH rules on parking fees for towed cars

When the car is towed away, it’s always a cause for frustration. Especially when there are also high stand fees. A legal dispute involves almost 5,000 euros.

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) wants to make a ruling today on the amount of parking fees for towed cars. Specifically, it concerns a case from Saxony in which a private towing company demanded 4,935 euros because the vehicle was initially left on the premises during a legal dispute – and the amount increased day by day.

The Dresden Higher Regional Court (OLG) only awarded the company 75 euros in the appeal process. “There could be a lot to be said for the appeal court’s view,” said the presiding judge at the BGH, Bettina Brückner, at the hearing in Karlsruhe in mid-September.

High amount in dispute due to special circumstances

She also suggested that there could be a simplified solution, because otherwise a lot of detailed questions would come into play: If, for example, the towed car is parked in a public parking lot and is provided with a parking claw, one would have to clarify within what radius there is a free parking space must be found. How long does the towing service have to look for it? Can expensive cars be parked in unlit commercial areas? And what if there is potentially stolen property such as a cell phone lying on a seat where it can be easily seen?

In this specific case, the high amount in dispute came about due to special circumstances. The vehicle owner demanded the return of his car a few days after it was towed. However, the company refused to do so as long as the towing costs of around 270 euros and parking fees of 15.00 euros per day were not paid. The dispute dragged on: When the hearing was held at the Dresden Regional Court and the car was released, it had been on the towing company’s premises for 329 days – resulting in a total of more than 4,900 euros.

ADAC: Storage costs can vary greatly

While the regional court was of the opinion that the plaintiff should pay all costs, the higher regional court overturned this decision in large parts. It ruled in September 2022 that the owner had to pay for towing and accommodation on the company premises – but not indefinitely. From the OLG’s point of view, the decisive point is the time at which he made it unmistakably clear that he wanted his vehicle back. That was after five days.

According to the Higher Regional Court, it was permissible for the company to keep the car to ensure payment of the towing costs. However, it cannot earn stand fees. The towing company appealed this decision. (Af. V ZR 192/22)

The ADAC automobile club has no overview of the range of parking fees for towed vehicles in Germany. “In fact, custody costs can vary greatly from region to region.”

Source: Stern

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