Who gets the insurance check?

Q: If a house is owned by several family members and it was damaged, can one family member cash the Insurance check issued for repairs? Brothers and sisters own a house that one sister lived in. It was damaged during a Hurricane. Now the one sister left with the insurance check and won’t return our calls.

A: More information is needed. Who owns the policy? Who is the listed payee or beneficiary? If she pays the premiums and is on the policy as the owner or beneficiary, the insurance company may have no liability if they pay her. You may go after her if she was paid and did not use the proceeds to repair the property. If it is clear-cut case that the proceeds were payable to all owners for the purpose of home repair, she may have committed the crime of Theft. I would get more details from the insurance company, contact a lawyer and possibly the police if certain facts exist.

How can I sue a car dealer?

Q: I took my car in for a transmission problem and they had the car roughly two months all work was covered under factory warranty. I got the car back and three weeks later my fiancé and my daughter were driving down the road and it caught fire and totaled the car (luckily no one was injured they jumped out of the moving car). There was transmission fluid where the car caught fire on the road. It’s in the police report also. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A:  I would make sure you notify your auto insurer asap. I would gather all evidence, police reports, your repair bills, and keep notes on all conversations with the dealer or their reps. You may want to have the vehicle sealed or kept in a locked garage by a neutral party to avoid an allegation of tampering with evidence or spoliation. Your insurer may do that for you so their expert can examine the car. They may have a subrogation claim against the dealer for what they pay out to you. Whatever you do, do not give the car back to the dealer prior to a forensic mechanical exam by your insurer or a neutral mechanic. My experience is that car dealers never want to admit fault or liability and never want to pay. Litigation is usually necessary. I would notify them but at the same time do not make any statements to them or their reps and find yourself a lawyer.

Can I sue a pedestrian for causing car accident?

Q: I was driving in the middle of the city before a concert and looking for a place to park, there was a woman flagging on the right side of the road, I went to pull into the lot behind her and she stepped out into the road pointing to a parking lot of the left side of the road, I in turned swerved back left to avoid hitting her and I hit another car. Both myself and the other car pulled into the lot, and exchanged info, she apologized and said she was sorry he even called her boss and said it was her fault and asked if we could park for free. He said no. My question is why was she flagging on the wrong side of the road and can I sue her or her company for causing this accident?

A: Yes, you can sue a pedestrian for causing a motor vehicle accident. Will it be worth it? A lot more facts would need to be known. First, there needs to be liability, fault on her part. Secondly, you need damages. I am hearing property damage here but not personal injury, lost work or other compensatory damages. If you suffered only property damage and you are insured, is your insurer not covering you? If your total damages are your deductible and say, rental car, while your car is being repaired, you may generate little interest in an attorney investing hundreds of dollars in costs and thousands of dollars of legal billable hours in this endeavor. You may want to file a civil action at the local District Justice. If you do sue, you may want to sue her employer as well. What is their liability? Would a judge find her to be exclusively liable for your property damage or would you be apportioned some fault (contributory or comparative negligence) for pulling into traffic without being clear to do so. I am just saying, I share your frustration but it may be a reach to hold her liable or not worth the investment. Why don’t you just submit the claim to your insurance company so they can assess potential liability.

What should I do?

Q: My car was stolen by a 16-year-old boy, his sister and 3 men. The 3 men and the sister got away. But the girl left her Giant Eagle rewards card in the car. The boy totaled my car into a parked Salvation Army truck. The wreck knocked-out some teeth of one of them and they are still in the car. My child was traumatized. We were 3 feet away from getting in to the car, with Christmas packages when we realized someone was in it. What should I do?

A:  Obviously, this is a crime and therefore you need to report this to police. Get a copy of the police report. Contact your insurance company immediately and file a claim. They will need a copy of the police report. All insurance policies required the insured to report claims promptly. If some of the identities of these little reprobates are not known, the police should be able to track the girl with the Rewards Card and eventually she and all or some other reprobates will confess or rat out the others once the police start working on them and their parents. Oh, and give the teeth to the police. They can be tested for DNA if necessary. Also, they can be circumstantial evidence if one of the kids is missing any. As far as trauma for your boy, contact your health insurance provider to see if any mental health coverage is available for him.