Rear-ended: In more ways than one
If Pam Vozsonyi could go back to Monday, March 10, she definitely would have called the police– and spared herself at least part of the frustration she's lived with ever since.
Vozsonyi was driving east on Route 250 when the car in front of her braked suddenly for a left turn and she was rear-ended by the truck behind her. The driver didn't speak English– but since the truck bore the name and phone number of a business, Lakeview Landscaping, Vozsonyi called the owner, Steve Adkins, on his cell phone.
"He asked that I call him later that day," Vozsonyi emailed me, "so that we could discuss the 'next step.' Since it was minor damage and he volunteered his name and address, I didn't call the police. During our second conversation, he asked that I get estimates." She did and called back to say that they ranged from $590 to $605. At that point, she claims, he said that he'd "like to see the car himself," but allegedly never make arrangements to do so.
Instead, according to Vozsonyi, they settled into a pattern in which Adkins would either ignore her messages or, if they actually spoke, offer more excuses. She claims that on April 18, Adkins stated that he didn't have the money and asked if he could make payments. When she agreed, he said he'd call the next week– but, Vozsonyi asserts, he didn't. Eight weeks after the accident, she's still trying to collect.
There's more: Vozsonyi claims that during one early-April call, Adkins told her he was insured by State Farm. When she called State Farm to verify that, however, she "was told he was not covered by them any longer."
I tried numerous times to reach Adkins, who, after hanging up on me during our first conversation, declined to respond– except to finally refer me to his attorney, who also remained mum.
If you're having déjà vu, it may be because this is Adkins' third appearance in the column.
In the first ["Mulch ado," October 30, 2002], Adkins had collected $320 in August 2002 from a woman I called "Ms. Harrison" for mulch that was never delivered. Harrison sued in Fluvanna General District Court and, on January 6, recovered her $320 (but was out the $36 filing fee).
In the second ["Slow Dig: When the Leyland Cypress didn't show," November 14, 2002], Don Collins gave Adkins a deposit of $522 in November 2001 for shrubs that, like the mulch, never materialized. Finally, in February 2002– after three months of the kind of phone tag described by Miller and Vozsonyi– Collins received a check. The check bounced, but ultimately Collins took it to Adkins' bank and was able to cash it.
I spoke to Mike Andresen, management analyst with Vehicle Services at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), who began by saying that Vozsonyi "lost a lot of leverage" by not calling the police. He then explained what a motorist in Vozsonyi's situation– i.e., in which it appears the other motorist may not be insured– can do: Fill out an FR200 form, which is available on the DMV website, dmv.state.va.us; it asks for details on the accident and both drivers.
The DMV sends a copy of the form to the other driver and asks for insurance information, which the agency then confirms with the insurance company. If the person turns out to be uninsured, the DMV suspends driving privileges and all vehicle registrations; reinstatement costs more than $500.
The "most critical person" to get involved, Andresen says, is the affected person's insurance agent. The agent has an incentive to compel a resolution; otherwise, the motorist could file a claim for damages, which the company would end up paying.
Stay tuned: I'll report the resolution– if there is one.
Speedy-Rooter fills in
I reported last week ["Trench foot: Refilling wasn't so Speedy"] that city resident Greg Nelson was still waiting for Speedy-Rooter to properly fill a trench they'd dug in his front yard on March 14. I'm pleased to report that Speedy finally came through, and Nelson is "relieved to have the job done, and done right."
Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer, write her at 100 Second Street NW, 22902, or call 295-8700 ext. 406.