Senator, citizen at odds after traffic accident
Posted November 3, 2015 6:54 p.m. EST
State Sen. Floyd McKissick got in a car crash over the summer, and while 5 On Your Side doesn't usually tackle fender-benders, the way this one was handled can serve as a lesson for all drivers.
It's a classic case of "He Said / She Said."
Tenika Hicks thought she and McKissick, a Durham attorney, were on the same page about what happened July 30 and who would pay for the damage to her car.
"I was coming down the street. He was parked over on the left side and boom," she said.
The Raleigh Police Department report on the wreck says car 1, driven by McKissick, pulled from a curb-side parking spot into the lane where Hicks, car 2, was driving.
"I ended up over in the second lane of traffic to avoid hitting the car in front of me," she said.
Paint markings made on the pavement as officers investigated the crash are still visible.
"He just kept saying, 'I'm sorry. I didn't see you,'" Hicks said.
She had scratches and dents along the driver's side of her SUV, including the front bumper and tire rim.
Hicks says McKissick asked her not to call his insurance company.
"He said, 'Will you please allow me to pay you this out of pocket?'" Hicks recalled.
Unsure, Hicks asked her father what to do.
"I called my dad. And my dad said, 'Well, Tenika, you know, he's a senator. I think he'll pay.'"
McKissick gave her his business card and mobile number.
The police report lists damage estimates at about $500 per car, and it says both parties decided to "handle this matter civilly."
Hicks says she got two estimates. The lowest totaled $2,600 for repairs and a rental car.
When Hicks shared that information with McKissick, she says he asked if he could find someone to fix her car for less.
Hicks wanted to go to a repair shop she was familiar with.
McKissick refused to pay, so Hicks turned to 5 On Your Side.
When contacted, McKissick first said he had no idea who Tenika Hicks was. Reminded of the crash, he said, "My recollections are really clear. She hit me."
He claims the officer made a mistake on the police report, and he shared photographs of damage to his car.
In a memo to 5 On Your Side, McKissick wrote that although he wasn't responsible for the accident, he "would have considered paying ... $250 to $300" for repairs "just to get the matter behind me, not because I believed I was at fault!!!"
McKissick says he never promised to pay for damages to Hicks' car, only to try to work things out. He says $2,000 in repairs is "grossly in excess" of his and the officer's estimates.
Hicks, angered at McKissick's apparent change of heart, did file a claim with his insurer, North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance, but they found he had "no legal liability" and declined to pay for her damages.
"Who would have thought? Who would have thought? I never in a million years would have thought that Sen. McKissick wouldn't have lived up to what he said he was going to do," Hicks said.
McKissick told 5 On Your Side he met with the police officer over the weekend to challenge the report. Raleigh police told us the report was not changed.
She is left to either pay for the repairs herself, file a claim with her insurance company or pursue legal action. None of those options appeals to Hicks.
Her quandary can serve as a reminder that it's always risky to leave out insurance companies and try to settle things with someone you don't know.
McKissick's response to 5 On Your Side