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A halfway house driver hit our fence and ran. Neighbors told

Customer Question
us about it. Company said...
A halfway house driver hit our fence and ran. Neighbors told us about it. Company said our estimate way to his but the amount they are willing to pay won't cover the repair. They refuse to negotiate r return my calls. What are my options/rights?
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Texas
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: Called police and they came out the day it happened. That's been over a month now.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The CFO of the company isv who I've been dealing with. She won't return my calls and only yesterday i threatened legal action did she have her assistant call to tell me she is going to take care of it but all die the lesser amount that won't cover all repair. I also can't get their insurance info because they tell me the CFO is the one that has that info but as i said she won't return calls.
Submitted: 1 year ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 2 hours by:
10/27/2016
Lawyer: Marc, Attorney at Law replied 1 year ago
Marc
Marc, Attorney at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 365
Experience: Experienced Attorney
Verified

Good morning. My name is Marc. I'm a licensed attorney and I will be happy to answer your questions. I can imagine how vexing this is for you! And I cannot imagine why the company is so unresponsive. I'm afraid I cannot offer much more than you may already know. There is only so much you can do to give them fair notice of your claim and a reasonable opportunity to resolve it. After that, the only way to compel the company to respond is by filing a summons and complaint. I'm not sure how much your repairs are. The amount at stake will determine whether you can file in small claims court, which would be less costly and time consuming for you.

Upon filing suit, the company will no longer be able to ignore you. Well, they could ignore you, but then you would be granted a judgment of default against them. The company could answer your complaint by denying your claims of liability and damages. But, if the CFO is at least a little rational (not to mention, just doing her job), she will either contact you to negotiate in good faith or she will notify the company's insurance carrier. If the latter, you might expect a call from their insurance adjuster, who will likely be eager to settle for any reasonable amount that you can support with proof (receipts, estimates, photos, etc.).

It's good that you called the police. It doesn't guarantee that the company will outright lie by denying any responsibility, but it makes it less likely and it adds credibility to your claim.

Two recommendations: (1) document everything - repairs, estimates, and keep a log of phone calls - date/time, who you spoke to, what was said, what followed. And (2) before filing suit, make at least one formal, written demand by sending a letter, certified mail stating you claim, attaching any proof, and closing with a statement such as: "Please consider this my good faith attempt to resolve this matter without resorting to legal action." If the CFO has any sense of duty at all, she will at a minimum forward your letter to the insurance carrier.

I wish you a speedy ans satisfactory resolution to this frustrating matter! And I hope I've provided you with useful information that helps you better understand your issues and options. If so, please feel free to rate my answer, since that is the only way I can receive credit. Or let me know if you have any further questions.

Kind regards,

Marc

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Lawyer: Marc, Attorney at Law replied 1 year ago

Another thought occurred to me that I wanted to share with you. While it varies form one organization to another, I'm not necessarily surprised that this matter was forwarded initially to the CFO, since people in that capacity typically deal with insurance-related matters. But a CFO is not a lawyer. When a matter escalates from a mere insurance claim to litigation, a CFO is not necessarily the one responsible. In any case, this particular CFO seems to be shirking her responsibility. For these reasons, you might consider reaching out to others in the company. Being a halfway house, I'm not sure if they have in-house counsel. But if they actually have a CFO on the premises, chances are they have other C-level folks. Those folks might be listed on the company's website. Or, you might obtain their names from a receptionist or secretary or other administrative "gatekeeper".

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
The thing is, they were very cooperative the are taking responsibility for the incident. The problem occurred when I sent the estimate. We were going to try to get the alley part of the fence that was damaged fixed and also, so it Blended, see if they would Stain that part as well as the whole back of the fence which would be hindsight.
Customer reply replied 1 year ago
The estimate for that was 1250. Wroth us having to pay 1100 to stain the rest of our fence to match the new fresh stain. When I last spoke with her she said, based off the pictures i had sent, that they could see only paying 300. Problem with that is, even if they were to just fix the fence and stain only that portion, it would be $500. We are willing to just accept the 500 that it would be, but she will not return our calls to let her know that. She had her assistant call yesterday to let us know they will take care of the bill but when I asked how much the check would be for she said for $300, which is not acceptable. She refuses to return my calls and because of that we can't let her know that we are willing to do the $500 and we also can't get the insurance information since apparently she's the only one that has that. Is there anything else we can file with the police or something?
Lawyer: Marc, Attorney at Law replied 1 year ago

It's very generous on your part to accept $500 in lieu of $1,000+. All the more reason why going to court - even small claims - is very undesirable.

Yes - you can go to the police. Under Texas law, destruction of any property is a crime - even if it was accidental - and can be charged under a doctrine called criminal mischief. In order to file criminal mischief charges, it must be shown that the person responsible for the damage:

  • Was aware that they had damaged someone else’s property (either intentionally or accidentally), or
  • Knowingly caused a loss or inconvenience by tampering with someone else’s property, among other things.

Furthermore, hit and run is a serious criminal charge in Texas when a person is accused of not stopping after a car crash involving death, injury, or property damage. It is also known as leaving the scene of an accident.

In your case, the damage caused by the company’s driver was not intentional, but it was “knowing” because he/she clearly knew that the accident caused damage. And, despite knowing that he/she caused property damage, the driver “ran” as you stated. Thus, the driver is potentially liable for criminal charges of both criminal mischief and hit and run.

I’m surprised that the police didn’t already take action after you called them. Nevertheless, you can file a complaint with the police. As the complainant, your statement and any evidence you have would likely establish that the halfway house was responsible for the damage. It would be up to the police to then find out who was driving the vehicle and to bring the applicable charges against that individual. Being a Class B or C misdemeanor, the punishment would be a nominal fine. But this whole thing would certainly get the halfway house’s attention focused on your claim.

If all this seems like overkill, I would repeat my suggestion to write a formal demand letter. But add to it something like: “Please consider this my good faith attempt to resolve this matter without resorting to filing both civil and criminal complaints.” Be sure to give a deadline of at least 10 days.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Marc

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