A few weeks ago, a deer hit my truck. Might as well have been a government worker in a city-owned vehicle.
Neither have to pay to repair the damage they caused.
No doubt you have heard about the doctrine of “sovereign immunity.” It means you can’t sue the government or hold it (or its agents) criminally or civilly responsible for anything, no matter what. Unless the government deigns to allow itself to be held responsible.
Well, there’s a lesser doctrine that operates on the same principle.
In my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, a woman named Susan Burr was driving her van when it was struck by a city-owned vehicle. This resulted in $2,000 in damages to her vehicle. Instead of a check from the city, she got a letter that read, “In order for a municipality to be liable” for damages, they “… must have been negligent.”
Mere accidents don’t count.
And of course, the city and its shysters get to decide for themselves what constitutes “negligence.”
In this case, the accident was allegedly caused by a sticky gas pedal. So the city is absolved – and Burr is left with the bill. (See here: http://www2.wsls.com/news/2011/feb/25/ro-city-not-paying-accident-caused-city-van-ar-865874/ for the full story.)
Isn’t that special?
Just like other exemptions and privileges bestowed by the Government Class on itself (including but far from limited to such outrages as ex-cops and even county attorneys being allowed to carry firearms into places where alcohol is served – and drink – while Mere Ordinaries, even if they have concealed handgun permits, are not allowed to carry firearms into such places at all – even if alcohol never crosses their lips) this business stinks to high heaven and reveals in all its yellow-toothed, sore-gummed ugliness not merely the hypocrisy but (much worse) the almost-Bourbon arrogance of the creeps who wield political power in this country.
Remember: These are the same solons who pass laws – for you and me – that require us to have insurance on every registered vehicle we own and who would pursue us with Javert-like ferocity to recoup monies for damages we caused to city-owned property.
As Seinfeld used to say, “Who are these people”?
Of course, we should not be surprised. The government has for years been a one-way operation. We pay, they collect. They demand, we submit.
Example: The IRS takes more money out of your hide than they are (ahem) legally entitled to. It takes you a year or more to correct the “error.” The IRS eventually, grudgingly, sends a check. But no interest – or penalties. We all know perfectly well what occurs when the roles are reversed.
Or, how about this one:
In Minneapolis, the owners of 25 homes flooded with raw sewage as a result of a water-main break of city-owned pipes have been notified that the costs of cleaning-up the city-caused filth (as high as $25,000 per home in some cases) won’t be covered by the city’s insurance because – ta-dum – it was just an “accident” and not the result of “negligence.”
And the cherry on top? Many of these people will end up paying out of pocket because their own insurance policy won’t pay, either. Because they didn’t have a “sewer back-up insurance rider.” (See here: http://www.startribune.com/local/west/117465158.html )
The same Catch 22 might happen to you, too, in the unlucky event you get creamed by an “accidentally” out of control – but not “reckless” – government-owned vehicle. They won’t pay – and your insurer might not, either – because as far as they’re concerned the damages were caused by another party and thus, they’re not liable.
It’s true most policies will probably cover it eventually under the “uninsured motorist” clause, or maybe you live in a “no fault” state.
That sounds like an out – or at least, a safety net – but it isn’t. For one, if you do have full coverage, it’s a solid bet that even though they’ll pay to fix your vehicle, they’re gonna jack up your rates to compensate. And you’ll at minimum get stuck with whatever the deductible is. Remember: You did nothing; someone else did. But you’re the one paying.
And if you are someone who drives an older vehicle and so chose not to buy a full-coverage policy to save yourself some money, you are SOL. Such a policy pays for damages you cause to other people’s stuff – but damages caused by others to your vehicle are your problem if they can’t or won’t pay. You either pay for the repairs yourself, out of pocket – or you junk your vehicle.
The city walks away, laughing.
So, be careful out there. Getting hit by a city-owned vehicle is as much a threat to us mere Ordinaries as bounding deer.
Only the deer are innocent animals that serve a useful purpose in the natural order of things.
Something government workers don’t.
Ugh, yeah that seems like a scam that burdens taxpayers. But the insurance companies are to blame as well; they get away with *not* paying for so much. I was in an accident where my truck slipped on 1/2 inch of snow (I was going 15-20mph to be cautious, but it didnt help) and I smashed into a tree. I didn’t cause the accident but the insurance company bumped up my rates because they classify that as my fault. I ended up switching insurance, went with a local company and got my car insurance in Chicopee MA. Ended up getting a better rate, but the insurance provider still charged me extra for that not-my-fault-but-it-is-my-fault accident. Anyway. Thanks for the post!
This story hit home, and reflects my annoyance with the insurance biz. Recently, while driving cautiously on a very icy morning to work, another driver spun out of control and whacked an SUV into my path, and my poor ’99 Saturn, bottom-of-the-line SL1, sustained a bashed headlight, a chunk out of the front fender and a slight crumple in the hood. It still drives and the headlight even works, and I figured her insurance company would fix it lickety split. Instead, I got the news, “It’s a total loss”. Yes, a loss for me, and they only have to pay me a pittance on an older, economy car that I can’t replace with their payout. I did nothing wrong, and now they’ve deemed my car “salvage” and will not pay out until I get the death-sentence of a salvage title, and then still can’t drive it until the state says it is worthy. How do I know to what expensive standard of body work they are going to hold me in order to declare it a rebuild and now allowed on the roads once more? I can’t even get the highway patrol to tell me straight if I am legally allowed to drive the thing if I simply refuse the payout and don’t get the salvage title (the insurance company warned me not to drive it, but how am I going to get to work otherwise – I have an hour commute). My brother-in-law, who sells cars, tells me there is a tremendous shortage of used cars in the area (i.e. they are going to be expensive). To top it all off, I had collision coverage on my car, but my insurance company is not going to pay anything. What the heck is collision for if not to repair my car if it gets in accident? Why is the State condemning my car and preventing me from driving it when it basically only has cosmetic damage (the headlight even works!!)? As long as I don’t try to sell it to someone else without divulging that it has been in an accident, should the State have the right to prevent me from driving a car that is less-than-perfect, but otherwise safe?
“should the State have the right to prevent me from driving a car that is less-than-perfect, but otherwise safe?” Yeah man, if they think there is structural issues with the unit. – I would imagine
This is the EXACT reason I don’t get collision insurance on older cars! It’s a gimmick.
If I were in your situation (not sure of your mechanical skill set), but I would buy the exact same car and keep the one you have as a spare parts mobile!
Eric: I am seething reading this. The freaking city worker driving a freaking city vehicle makes him responsible. Unfortunately, the City should have waived their sovereign immunity. It would have been no cost to the City and therefore, none to the taxpayers. And it would have been a lesson representative of a responsible governing body cognizant of the negligence of their employee. Moreover, no governing body or it’s employees should ever be granted anything called “sovereign immunity”. I wasn’t aware that such a thing existed. The magnitude for corruption, right up to murder, is boundless.
I thought it was bad here in the rube’s Tammany Hall, and it is, but the situation you speak of is beyond the pale.
These are the same sorry sons of bitches that sit around with their unions, collectively bargaining away the money others have to work for to pay their salaries for services; which, if done at all, are often inadequate and performed with their typical “lord of the manor” attitude, from the mayor to the little dick employee who has less education and wherewithal than my housecat.
And yes, you are spot on with the insurance companies. The trees (that the city is responsible for trimming here) that took my back fence down during an ice storm 2 years ago became a $2,000 claim filed against my insurance (with a $500 deductible). Did they raise my rates the next time around…you bet your ass they did. In fact, every single year since – if it “rains” too hard, snows more than an inch, they have raised my rates. Their reason every year…it’s the worst winter in a 100 years. I no longer make out my check to Kentucky Farm Bureau anymore. I write it out to the Kentucky Yarn Bureau. They also raised my “membership” fee $10 last year as well. When asking them if that was also because of the worst winter in the last 100 years for the last two years, I received no response at all.
Insurance is nothing but a racket tied to the State which is an even bigger racket and a criminal one at that. In fact, I wonder just how hard most insurance companies have lobbied against Obamacare. My guess, not too hard. (Follow the money)
I will never forget the summer before the ice storm of which I spoke earlier. I had complained repeatedly to City Hall that the trees were not getting cut and when they were they were being pruned negigently. (They were only cutting off branches on one side over the power lines. Everything above, and to the other side, had been left to grow for decades. Obviously common sense would tell you that such pruning will cause a tree to grow side heavy as well as top heavy. And it’s not like they couldn’t see how heavy and low towards the ground the branches had grown. This had been done all over the City and in many places throughout the State. Consequently, their negligence was responsible for not only taking down back fences but trees crashing into the roofs of people’s homes and, of course, the power lines they were supposed to be pruning them away from in the first place. The local news would have people to believe it was all the ice on the lines. The truth, however, was quite different for those who were effected and the utility workers left to deal with the power outages. It was an accident that had been waiting to happen for at least 20 years. My neighbor & I complained to no avail for two years prior. They did NOTHING.
The lady left with damages to her car has my sympathy tenfold. But until that flag and family crowd of rubes you refer to in your article on the military/industrial complex wises up, or loses their welfare check, nothing will change. It’s not in THEIR best interest, or the State’s, to destroy a system that breeds them and feeds them. They refer to this as charity while they’re sitting in church on Sundays or reading the teleprompter at their news conferences. They are the ones who go around spewing their Kumbaya crap about equality and humanitarianism. The “he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” crowd.
Bullshit. He isn’t my brother. My brother doesn’t steal from me while trying to tell me it’s charity for the commond good, the children or national security.
And what’s this about the commond good? I don’t have anything in common with criminals other than the fact that I am forced by the State they support to be their victim.
What a sorry lot of nothings Americans have become. I’m ashamed to be one.
“My therapist says I have a preoccupation with vengeance….we’ll see about that.” – Anonymous
I’m sure your therapist hands out that prognosis frequently. With the input many receive from the outside world, paranoia and vengeance is just the beginning!
Lame. And what’s the deer story? You’re ok…how about the deer? The truck?
It is! We were on our way to the dentist. I was driving our “nice” truck (the silver one we keep inside the garage). At the bottom of the mountain a filthy hooved rat leapt in front of us. Hit it hard, crumpled the passenger side front fender and mashed in the bumper. I don’t know what became of it. I was too busy being pissed about the damage to our truck! Had a local guy fix it; much cheaper than the NIssan dealership, but still $1,300 I hadn’t counted on having to spend. Schiesse!
That’s exactly what happened to my Nissan not long after I bought it. Used the insurance money to fix the fender then used the rest to put a winch bumper (aka Bambi Basher) on the front.
“Sticky Gas Pedal”?? Sounds like an improperly maintained vehicle. Throttle body not cleaned? Faulty throttle cable not replaced before putting vehicle in service? Operating vehicle with safety defects on public roads?? Sounds negligent to me. This lady needs a lawyer that has some idea how a car/truck works. Sounds like a slam dunk case of negligence to me, or is it that such standards only apply to us proles??