BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Imagine getting into a car crash, not only do you have to deal with the damage, insurance and transportation. Then you get a bill for over $5,000 on top of that from the New York State Thruway, telling you to pay up.
Months after a Hamburg family had their car totaled in an accident on the Thruway — the agency sent them a bill for damages related to the crash.
The bill for over $5,000 blew them away and they reached out to Call 4 Action for help.
“$5,800 yeah is a lot of money and again it seems exorbitant,” said Linda from Hamburg, who only wants to go by her first name.
Her issues with the Thruway Authority began after her 23-year-old son got into a car crash on the 190 South by the Peace Bridge in March of last year.
“He spun around and after he spun counter-clockwise the front end of his vehicle bumped into the guard rail,” Linda said.
A picture of the damage also shows there’s snow on the ground and that the crash happened at night. State Police say Linda’s son was going too fast for the conditions and the Thruway says he was cited for unsafe lane change.
“Thank God nothing happened and he was safe and I’m very thankful for that,” Linda said, “I was worried about him being on the side of the road, it was freezing cold, his car couldn’t start so he had to stay outside so we got there as soon as we could.”
She didn’t file a claim through her insurance company, fearing that would increase her premium. Months later — she got a bill from the Thruway Authority for $5,831.88 to fix the guardrail.
When you break the bill down the Thruway says $3,000 is needed for maintenance workers to spend all day fixing the damage and $2,400 is the cost for 10 pieces of equipment on scene. The lowest cost, only $342, was for materials.
“I understand the need to pay outside materials, I have no problem paying for the $342 but to pay $5,800 when really the Thruway, do they not have any kind of responsibility for clearing the road and had there not been ruts in the road when he moved over he wouldn’t of spun out,” Linda said.
We’re asking the Thruway why that bill grew to be so high? And, is there anyway it could be lowered or if a settlement can be reached? So far, the Thruway is standing by the bill.
The Thruway Authority cites an area of the state’s Vehicle and Traffic law saying drivers who are negligent are liable for the damage they cause to state property. Linda has hired an attorney and is disputing this claim through the state Attorney General’s Office.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.