WSVN — If you live in South Florida and go out, odds are you have turned your keys over to a valet driver. When they return your car, are they responsible if the car is damaged? Not always, which is why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Maria Yzquierdo is a single mom raising three boys. How does she describe it?

Maria Yzquierdo: "Crazy. It's a tough job, but I'm doing it."

Financially, it's difficult, but Maria manages with a side job.

Maria Yzquierdo: "I do Uber. It helps me out to pay part of my bills."

With that little extra money, Maria wanted to surprise the boys, so they checked into a Miami Beach hotel for the weekend. Then she went to the valet to get her car.

Maria Yzquierdo: "I was waiting downstairs. I see my car coming down. I saw the crash, yeah; it was quick, it was so quick. And it was the valet parking guy's fault. He was the one driving my car."

The hotel's valet driver and another guest had collided.

Maria Yzquierdo: "I am going to have to replace, I guess, all the bumper."

The police were called.

Maria Yzquierdo: "And the police officer told me the hotel had to pay for both cars because that was inside their property."

And the price tag to repair her Cadillac?

Maria Yzquierdo: "And the cost to do all this, $4,600 and something."

Maria took the estimate back to the hotel to get them to pay for the damage. The response?

Maria Yzquierdo: "She told me to take it to my insurance, they were not going to pay for it. I said, 'I am not going to take it to my insurance 'cause I am not the one at fault. I was not driving my car, and the valet parking guy was the one responsible for this, not me.'"

If Maria went through her insurance, she would have to pay a $500 deductible and her rates would go up. Making things worse, since her car was damaged, she couldn't make ends meet driving for Uber.

Maria Yzquierdo: "I cannot work with Uber because the car is crashed, and the car has to be in good standing."

A valet driver turned her weekend into a mess that she cannot afford in so many ways.

Maria Yzquierdo: "I want to see them fix my car. That's the only thing I'm asking for."

Well, Howard, you hand your car over to a valet driver and it's damaged. Who has to pay for the repairs?

Howard Finkelstein: "It depends. This is what the law calls a bailment, which means that the valet is responsible if they damage the car, but if they park and someone keys it or runs into them, then they are not responsible. In this case, it appears the valet driver was to blame, and the hotel has to pay for the repairs."

I called Seacoast Suites. Things could not have gone any better. Grace Bodden told me she had been told that the hotel guest had hit the valet driver and the guest had to pay to repair Maria's car. She had not been seen the police report that we had that said, "Person 1, the valet driver, failed to yield the right of way and struck vehicle 2."

When we sent that to Bodden, they contacted Maria, sent her to a nearby repair shop, and Suncoast Suites paid to fix her car.

And if you, like everybody else in South Florida, use a valet service, do one thing.

Howard Finkelstein: "Check your car when the valet returns it. If you drive off and find damage, you are out of luck. And if you check and there is damage, notify the valet, the business and call the police for a written report. That's what helped Maria in this case."

Maria Yzquierdo: "They fixed the car, and I'm really happy."

Maria's Cadillac is in great shape, and she is felling pretty good about things as well..

Maria Yzquierdo: "You know, this is, for me, like a miracle. I am blessed by you guys, I really am."

Thanks, but the key was talking to the right person at Seacoast Suites, and once they saw the police report, they moved quickly to do the right thing and get the car repaired.

Somebody parked a problem in your lap? Wanna know the key to driving it away? Contact us. We won't take a joyride with your troubles, but we will enjoy helping you out.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.

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Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
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On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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