Murder and Car Troubles

(WSVN) - Getting another driver’s car insurance to pay when you are hit can be difficult. But listen to this one: One insurance company says they don’t have to pay because their client was murdered. Is that legal? Here is the answer in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Marie Cooley had gotten home from the grocery store and walked into her home…..

Marie Cooley: “And I hear three, maybe four gun shots, loud. But I didn’t pay any attention because I’m not involved in any criminal activity.”

A few minutes later a neighbor told her to come outside. Her car had been hit but that’s not what stunned her…

Marie Cooley: “And I ran out there frantically to see this guy laying on the ground shaking, wet, blood all over him.”

The man had been driving by Marie’s house when an angry motorist shot him. After being hit with bullets, the victim then crashed his car into Marie’s car.

Marie Cooley: “It wasn’t my car I was worried about. It was this guy and is he going to be OK?”

He was not…

Sadly the gunshot victim died…

Marie Cooley: “It was basically road rage.”

Marie has basic car insurance but it doesn’t pay to repair her car.

So a few days later she contacted the dead man’s car insurance company to get them to pay to repair her car. Their response…

Marie Cooley: “They were denying my claim because their client had a medical emergency. I said, ‘When you say medical emergency, can you please be a bit more precise?’ And he said, ‘Well he died and that is a medical emergency.'”

Marie argued you can’t call it a medical emergency. He was murdered while driving and that’s why his car smashed into her car.

Marie Cooley: “And again he said, ‘After our investigation, there is nothing that we can do.'”

Their suggestion, go after the gunman who shot the driver.

But he’s in jail, charged with murder and won’t be offering to pay to repair Marie’s car.

Marie Cooley: “I took it to my mechanic, and he said it was going to be $1,200. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m screwed.’ That’s exactly what I said. I don’t have money to get my car fixed. My insurance can’t fix it. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Well Howard, is the car insurance company right? Can they refuse to pay for the damage to a car because their customer was murdered?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News legal expert: “It sounds unbelievable, but yes they can because their insurance coverage only pays if their driver is negligent. In this case, in the eyes of the law, getting murdered is not the fault of the driver and therefore his insurance company is off the hook.”

We contacted Foremost Insurance, where a spokesperson told us, “It was the actions of the shooter that caused the collision to occur, making the shooter liable for the damages resulting from the accident.”

But facing life in prison, the accused killer won’t be sending out the $1,200 Marie needs to fix her car.

Howard Finkelstein: “This is why comprehensive insurance is important for you. Sometimes there is no one who is legally responsible or the other driver does not have insurance. If you have comprehensive, you cover yourself and don’t have the bills that Marie now faces.”

Marie Cooley: “Five minutes more if I stood there, it would have been me.”

Marie always thought her insurance policy would cover her if something like this happened. And even though it doesn’t, she still feels lucky.

Marie Cooley: “Every day I thank God that I’m alive still. Yes, my car has been hit but I have my life and I’m grateful.”

That’s a good way of looking at things.

If you have a medical emergency, your insurance company isn’t always off the hook. Say you have a condition like seizures and you aren’t taking your medication. If you have a seizure and crash, that’s a medical emergency. But because you didn’t follow your doctors orders, your insurance could have to pay for the damage you caused or, it’s possible, they could try to make you pay because you didn’t listen to the doctor. When it comes to the law and insurance, nothing is simple.

A problem come crashing down on you? Treat it like an emergency and contact us right away. We will take a comprehensive approach to try to insure things get straightened out. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
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Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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