Friday, March 13, 2009

July accident claim still unpaid

Back in July a McHenry County resident was involved in a crash with a sheriff's deputy. She still hasn't been paid for the damage to her vehicle.

How much longer will it take?

Mistake No. 1 The crash was investigated by a sergeant in the sheriff's department. Normally, crashes involving deputies are investigated by an officer of a different agency, often by a trooper with the Illinois State Police. If a trooper is not available, then by an officer of a different department. You'll see why in a moment.

The initial report was completed and listed the deputy as the at-fault driver, and his name was placed as Unit 1. What happened? The deputy had been stopped on the shoulder of the road and pulled into the lane of traffic just as the civilian driver was passing, causing $5,200 damage to the right side of her car.

Mistake No. 2 The deputy/driver supposedly became upset that he was being listed as the at-fault driver. It would tarnish what he claimed was a good driving record.

Mistake No. 3 The sergeant changed the report, switching the civilian driver to the position of Unit 1.

Mistake No. 4 The false report was delivered to the civilian driver.

Mistake No. 5 The County's 3rd-party claims administrator refused to pay the claim and, more importantly, refused to consider the civilian driver's claim that the accident was not her fault and that the report was not true.

Mistake No. 6 And even more importantly, the civilian driver told me that the 3rd-party claims administrator said to her last fall, “How about this? You don’t come after us. We don’t go after you, and you don’t lose your license.”

Why am I writing about this today? Because I received a direct email today that included, "(the civilian driver) should get a lawyer, these guys will never admit guilt. It's part of the creed."

Here's what I am wondering? When asked -

Will deputies lie to their superiors?
If the civilian gets a lawyer and sues, will they lie in court?
Will they still lie, when other deputies testify that the report was changed?

There are two choices when you lie. You can just keep on lying and dig yourself into a deeper hole. Or you can admit that you made a mistake, correct the error, and go on.

I've been helping the civilian driver. Because I understand the mentality of the law enforcement game (as played by some, but not all, members), I can coach her and be her advocate. I also have automobile accident claims experience. I know how to read accident reports. I can read what it says. And I can spot what gets left out.

The civilian driver did not get a ticket, because the crash was not her fault. Think about this. In any accident in which a civilian driver had been at fault, which caused $5,200 damage to her own car and $5,600 damage to a patrol car, do you think the civilian driver would have gotten a ticket? Of course!

And while the deputy should have gotten a ticket, he didn't. Why not? Because his own department investigated the crash. This is why crashes involving police vehicles are investigated by outside agencies.

Sheriff Nygren has been asked to correct the report and provide the civilian driver with a copy of the corrected report. If that doesn't happen, there is every chance that the County will be facing yet one more lawsuit.

No comments: