Police cruiser hits her parked car, but city won’t pay—yet

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–What can you do if a police cruiser slams into your parked car, totals it, and the city refuses to pay the damages? That is what happened to RaNisa Turner of Buffalo, and to make matters worse, her insurance carrier rejected her claim, too.

It is a situation that can happen on any level of government in the United States. There is a saying, “you can’t sue the government, unless they say so,” and while Turner’s claim was in rejected in Buffalo, a similar outcome can occur in a scrape with a village, a town, a state, or the U.S. government.

Turner’s car was parked on the street in front of her home, on December 23, 2018, when a Buffalo police cruiser–responding to a call–slammed into the rear of her car. Turner’s 2004 Pontiac Grand Am was written off as a total loss.

“It happened right, two days before Christmas, so that was an added expense for Christmas,” Turner recalled.

The Buffalo mother filed a notice of claim with the city’s Law Department, but it was rejected. City attorneys wrote, RaNisa would have to prove the officer who was driving exhibited a “clear reckless disregard for the safety of others or their property must be shown by the claimant.”

Then Turner’s insurance carrier turned down her damage claim because her policy did not include coverage for Comprehensive and Collision—damage that is not the fault of the policyholder.

RaNisa declined the “comp and collision” because the payments would have been more than her 14-year-old car was worth.

Town of Tonawanda insurance agent Kathleen Clouden told us each case is different, “I have people that have cars that are 15, 16, 17 years old that still want that comp and collision because they can’t afford that next car.”

But a rejection by the city’s Law Department is not necessarily the end of the story for a resident that files a Notice of Claim. Buffalo’s Common Council has a Claims Committee where residents can try a second time to get something for their loss.”

A councilmember would file a resolution for the Claims Committee, and if it is approved, it would go to the full Common Council for approval.

Turner has contacted her councilman to take her case to the Claims Committee, and she did have to buy a new car.

Ironically RaNisa now has Comprehensive and Collision coverage, she changed insurance carriers, and her insurance premiums are less.

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