Local News

Raleigh Man Wants To Be Fairly Compensated For Accident

Posted October 23, 2003

— Under state law, cities and counties are immune to damage claims when one of their vehicles is involved in a crash.

Four years ago, Raleigh waived that immunity and started paying claims saying it was the right thing to do. Earlier in October, Wake County followed suit, but getting the money and getting a fair amount is not always as easy as it sounds.

Bill Eatman works hard for his money. He was proud of the brand new Chevy Blazer he bought in 1999 for $31,000. He had kept it in pristine condition until last month when it was destroyed in an accident.

"There was a big bam noise and all of a sudden, I was spinning around in the road," he said.

The accident happened when a Raleigh police officer was responding to a call. She was heading north on Capital Boulevard when she entered the intersection on Buffaloe Road. She later T-boned Eatman's Blazer. Investigators say the light was red and there is no doubt that the officer was at fault.

The City of Raleigh sent Eatman a letter saying his medical bills, lost wages and property damage would be covered. They offered him $11,000 for his car -- $2,800 below Blue-Book value and $3,000 less than what his own insurance company is offering.

"I think it's utterly ridiculous. I really do. They're not going to give me peanuts for my vehicle," Eatman said.

The City of Raleigh directed WRAL to GAB Robins, the subcontractor that handles the claims. The company did not return messages to WRAL. As for Eatman, he thinks the city should err on the side of being generous in paying damages to innocent bystanders.

"If they don't then they're no better than the gangsters. That's like them holding the gun on the public," he said.

City Attorney Thomas McCormick said Eatman and others with concerns about claims can appeal the cases to his office, which is what Eatman said he will do that.

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