AMHERST – Two thousand dollars. A Victoria Street East resident says that’s how much money the town likely owes her to fix her damaged car. The town and its insurer, however, are not offering to pay the repair bill.
Barbara Collins blames the town for what she thinks is substandard work on the sidewalk and road where it meets her driveway.
“They ripped it up…late last fall,” said Barbara Collins.
The work on the street left an elevation drop that’s too steep in a short distance for the Collins’ car to navigate without scraping the bottom, she and her husband claim.
“I don’t want a million dollars,” said the woman.
Collins said she wants her car and driveway fixed.
The spot where the bottom of the driveway meets the road has been covered with plywood reinforced with steel. It’s the handiwork of Barbara’s husband, Mike.
“I don’t want it fixed until this is settled,” said the man.
Mike Collins says the Hyundai is new. The dealer has given them an estimate of about $2,000 to fix the vehicle.
“We’re not having much luck dealing with the town,” he said.
The town’s CAO, Greg Herrett, said claims against the town are handled in a consistent, objective way. Whether it’s a larger claim that might invoke payment by their insurer, Archway Insurance, or a smaller claim, which would be paid out by the town, an adjuster is called in to assess the circumstances.
“We follow that process in every instance,” he said.
When it’s determined by the assessment that the town is liable, in most cases the town opts to settle the claim. Herrett said the town doesn’t receive a lot of claims, but gets enough that they need to be handled through an established process.
The CAO declined to discuss the details of the specific claims made by the Collins. He said the standard process for claims includes a few steps: the town takes the complaint and presents it to their adjuster, who then makes a determination.
Barbara Collins said she met Monday with Ben Pitman, director of Public Works. Barbara and her husband would like to establish if there is a standard for the kind of roadwork completed and if the job done at their property deviates from that standard.
Collins claimed Pitman asked her to put in writing the information she would like about those regulations.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said.
The woman said she’s received a letter from the town saying there will be no further action taken to remedy the situation. Collins previously indicated she may pursue action in small claims court.
The couple received a letter from the insurance adjusters, Cunningham Lindsey of New Glasgow. The letter confirmed the town does not intend to reimburse the couple. The position outlined by the letter was that liability from the municipality in this circumstance would kick in if the town was notified of a problem and did not act on it in an appropriate fashion.
But Mike argued it’s not a case of disrepair, but misrepair.
“Their error is it’s not built properly,” he said.