(WSVN) - A hit-and-run victim thought he got a break when the driver’s tag was left behind, but the owner of the car claimed she didn’t know who was driving it, didn’t have insurance and didn’t think she had to pay for the damage. Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser is on the case.
It’s a 1997 BMW convertible. Nearly a classic and a great car for Mauricio for many years.
Mauricio Pereira, strange hit-and-run: “Yeah, it was. I always wanted a convertible.”
Now, it’s collecting dust after being smashed by a hit-and-run driver.
Mauricio Pereira: “The car starts revving, and instead of moving forward, she moves back. She hits my car.”
Mauricio was stopped at a light when the car ahead of him reversed and backed into him and took off.
Mauricio Pereira: “I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was incredible.”
A good Samaritan followed the car, took these pictures of the three women who got out and walked into an apartment complex.
Back at the wreck, a great piece of evidence to show who owned the hit-and-run Mercedes.
Mauricio Pereira: “When the car pulled back into me and took off, they left the tag. The tag was attached to the front of my light, so I got their tag.”
Now he knew who owned the car and pictures of who was in it, which, he thought, meant he would get his car repaired — until FHP spoke to the owner, who said she had rented her car to a friend of a friend.
Mauricio Pereira: “So, I believe the part that she wasn’t driving. What I don’t believe is the part that she doesn’t know who was driving her car.”
Mauricio’s insurance determined it would cost $5,000 to repair the car.
Mauricio Pereira: “The radiator’s been hit.”
But his insurance company said the ’97 convertible was only worth $3,500, so they wanted to total it and give him that money.
Mauricio Pereira: “And if I wanted to repair it, it would be out of my pocket for $5,000, which I don’t have at this time.”
That’s because the owner of the Mercedes claimed she didn’t have insurance to repair the old BMW.
Mauricio Pereira: “And a 2019 Mercedes-Benz worth $70,000, $80,000, $90,000, and you’re driving around with no insurance? Hard to believe.”
Hit-and-runs are so common in South Florida, and Mauricio thought since he could prove who owned the car that smashed into him, he’d be in decent shape — but nope.
Well Howard, is Mauricio out of luck?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “This is what the law calls the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine. If you lend your car to someone, the law makes you responsible if they are negligent and did damage, meaning in this case, Mauricio can sue the owner of the car if she won’t pay for his damage. If she doesn’t have insurance, FHP can cite her and suspend her license.”
The Florida Highway Patrol said Patricia Loquoshia Norris owned the car that backed into Mauricio.
When I spoke to her, she said Mauricio was greedy for wanting her to pay for his repairs.
I said, “It’s your car, and you are responsible for the damage.” She said she wasn’t driving.
She also said a friend had borrowed her car for another friend and would not tell her who that was.
She told me she had insurance but wouldn’t file a claim because her rates would go up.
The Florida Highway Patrol said that’s not true. Norris did not have insurance.
She was cited for that, her license was suspended, and the highway patrol also took her tag, and she won’t get that one back.
Howard Finkelstein: “Mauricio could sue for the $5,000 it will cost to repair his car, but then, he can’t accept the $3,500 from his insurance company. It might be smart to take that insurance money because they will then sue the car owner to get their $3,500 plus Mauricio’s deductible, and if she doesn’t pay them, her license is suspended again. This time, for three years.”
Mauricio is going to accept the $3,500 from his insurance company, say goodbye to his BMW and leave disappointed.
Mauricio Pereira: “I wanna thank Patrick Fraser and the Help Me Howard team who put a lot of effort into this, but I can really say that justice here certainly was not serving my way. The other person got a hit-and-run, no insurance and she got away with it.”
Now, FHP said they would have charged the driver, but neither Mauricio nor the good Samaritan who followed them could be sure who it was, and so they got away with a hit-and-run. Not the first in South Florida and won’t be the last.
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