Rutledge couple says they were not fairly compensated after DUI

Rutledge couple says they were not fairly compensated after DUI trucker crashed into their property

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A couple in Rutledge whose three vehicles and carport were destroyed by a drunk truck driver in May is pretty frustrated. (source: Orrick family) A couple in Rutledge whose three vehicles and carport were destroyed by a drunk truck driver in May is pretty frustrated. (source: Orrick family)
Nearly two months after the wreck, Keith Orrick and his wife continued to fight with the truck driver's insurance company. (source: Orrick family) Nearly two months after the wreck, Keith Orrick and his wife continued to fight with the truck driver's insurance company. (source: Orrick family)
"I just want them to settle it fairly. I don't want anything extra," said Sheila Orrick. "I just want them to settle it fairly. I don't want anything extra," said Sheila Orrick.
"I just want this over. I want it to be a fair thing for me, for them. I don't want to rob them. I don't want them robbing me," said Keith. "I just want this over. I want it to be a fair thing for me, for them. I don't want to rob them. I don't want them robbing me," said Keith.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

RUTLEDGE (WATE) - A couple in Rutledge whose three vehicles and carport were destroyed by a drunk truck driver in May is pretty frustrated. They felt they got the short end of a deal offered by the driver's insurance company.

A new telephone pole stands on a curve on Highway 11W outside of Rutledge. The old one was knocked down on the night of May 21 at 1:20 a.m. when a big rig smashed into Keith Orrick's yard, destroying his truck and two other vehicles. As it plowed through his yard, the truck demolished his carport after traveling 700 feet.

Nearly two months after the wreck, Orrick and his wife continued to fight with the truck driver's insurance company.

"I just want them to settle it fairly. I don't want anything extra," said Sheila Orrick.

Keith's F-250 Ford pickup had been paid for. Sheila's Mazda had also been paid off. However, the insurance company is depreciating the couple's damaged property.

That includes the destroyed carport Keith paid to have erected and the two John Deere riding lawn mowers that are now toast.

"I paid $26,000 for my car new, and they're offering me $6,500 for it," said Sheila.

Two months after the crash , there are still oil stains deeply imprinted in the grass left behind by the out of control truck.

The truck driver, who was uninjured, was charged with DUI and failure to exercise due care.

Keith says the driver's insurance company intends to pay Blue Book value for their destroyed vehicles and wants to depreciate the original cost of the carport.

After complaining, the Orricks were given two rental vehicles, paid by the truck company's insurance provider.

"I just want this over. I want it to be a fair thing for me, for them. I don't want to rob them. I don't want them robbing me," said Keith.

The orricks figured $45,000 to $50,000 dollars could replace their damaged vehicles and other destroyed property, but they say the driver's insurance company offered about $37,000 dollars to repair the yard, replace the destroyed lawn mowers, carport, and three vehicles.

"I think it ought to be replacement value, not Blue Book value," said Sheila.

We talked with insurance specialist Roger Kane. His company has no connection to the Orricks' case. He says under indemnity agreements, the trucker's insurance company is only required to restore the damaged property to pre-loss, its condition before the accident.

"So if they had three vehicles, it is going to give them back three vehicles of similar age and quality, the value of those three vehicles. It will restore their property back to pre-loss," said Kane.

We asked Kane if there is wiggle room in the indemnification process for the injured party.

Every claim has wiggle room especially in third party claims," he said.

There were negotiations. The Orricks reached an agreement of a $39,000 payoff, but it was a bitter decision. The Orricks had two other alternatives they could have considered.

They could have hired an attorney to represent them, or they could have used their own home owners insurance to pay for the damage. Then their insurance company would have gone through subrogation to recoup the money from the truck driver's insurance company.

They were told either of those processes would have taken at least six months to resolve.

Understanding insurance terms practically requires a law degree or a Ph.D.

In case of a loss, having your own insurance provider explain what is going on is the first step.

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