: State Farm Insurance 'bills family of dog killed by customer for damages'


monokitty
May 27th, 2010, 01:08 AM
It might be by the book, but you gotta let some things slide...

Dog killed by car, family billed for the damages - thestar.com (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/815050--dog-killed-by-car-family-billed-for-the-damages?bn=1).

When Kim Flemming arrived home from work on March 23 and let the dog out, she didn’t know these were the last few moments she would see the family’s beloved yellow Lab alive.

Twelve-year-old Jake loved to roam the area around the Flemmings’ Leslie St. home in Aurora.

“Next thing I knew there was a knock on the door and a gentleman said, ‘Do you have a dog? He’s on the road,’ ” Flemming recalled. “This lady had hit him. I got to the road and he was dying. He died in my arms.”

About two months later, on May 17, Flemming received a bill for $1,732.80 from State Farm Insurance.

The letter, which included five pages of documentation and three pages of photographs, explained that State Farm had received a claim for damages from the driver.

“Our investigation into this matter has found you to be 100-per-cent responsible. As such, we are looking to you for reimbursement,” the letter stated.

The bill included the cost of parts and labour for fixing the bumper, as well as the cost of a rental car.

Thoughts?

CubaMark
May 27th, 2010, 01:40 AM
My thoughts are not publishable.

I would have a few choice words in my reply to the letter... ...and let the company sue. No jury would convict.

...heartless...

MLeh
May 27th, 2010, 02:47 AM
I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't think people should just let their dogs 'out to roam the neighbourhood'.

I'm sorry her dog is dead, but responsible pet ownership means being responsible for your pet. So, technically, yes, she is responsible for the damages to the car if the dog ran out in front of it.

Insurance agencies to seem to be rather heartless, however.

kps
May 27th, 2010, 02:52 AM
The truly heartless thing is when they raise the rates on the woman's auto insurance.:lmao:

Blood sucking cretins...

+1 to giving them the finger and letting them sue.

bsenka
May 27th, 2010, 03:48 AM
Counter-sue for replacing the dog and emotional damages?

i-rui
May 27th, 2010, 05:15 AM
i'm probably in the minority here, but i don't think people should just let their dogs 'out to roam the neighbourhood'.

I'm sorry her dog is dead, but responsible pet ownership means being responsible for your pet. So, technically, yes, she is responsible for the damages to the car if the dog ran out in front of it.

Insurance agencies to seem to be rather heartless, however.

+1

(but only because she admitted to letting the dog out herself.... if the dog happened to jump the fence and got hit by a car, and then the insurance company tried to pull that i'd side against the heartless insurance companies we all love to hate)

Dr.G.
May 27th, 2010, 06:11 AM
I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't think people should just let their dogs 'out to roam the neighbourhood'.

I'm sorry her dog is dead, but responsible pet ownership means being responsible for your pet. So, technically, yes, she is responsible for the damages to the car if the dog ran out in front of it.

Insurance agencies to seem to be rather heartless, however.

I have to agree here. While it is a sad case, as the owner of dogs, I don't just let them roam outside.

Sonal
May 27th, 2010, 09:15 AM
By interesting coincidence, there is a State Farm Way that runs just off of Leslie Street in Aurora.

imnothng
May 27th, 2010, 09:26 AM
I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't think people should just let their dogs 'out to roam the neighbourhood'.

I'm sorry her dog is dead, but responsible pet ownership means being responsible for your pet. So, technically, yes, she is responsible for the damages to the car if the dog ran out in front of it.

Insurance agencies to seem to be rather heartless, however.

It seems so far you're not in the minority.

I agree as well. It ticks me off with cats too. I'm going to feel awful if I hit a cat and I'll be pissed at the owner for causing it. I wonder if I could sue the owner for emotional distress or something....hmmm

rgray
May 27th, 2010, 09:33 AM
I agree with the main drift here. Pet ownership has responsibilities. Frankly it is about time that a pet owner got 'called' on those responsibilities.

SINC
May 27th, 2010, 09:34 AM
+1. Our dog is fenced or leashed at all times, just the way it should be.

Macfury
May 27th, 2010, 09:42 AM
I agree with the insurance company. Sad that the dog's owners did not take better care of it.

turbomac
May 27th, 2010, 10:03 AM
I feel bad for the family....yet, you got to take responsibility here now. Yall just can't let your pets run around unsupervised. I once saw a driver, quickly turned the wheel and stomped on the brakes, and almost hit a house.....just to avoid hitting a dog that jumped out on the street. What more damage that could of caused?

jlcinc
May 27th, 2010, 10:18 AM
I feel bad for the family....yet, you got to take responsibility here now. Yall just can't let your pets run around unsupervised. I once saw a driver, quickly turned the wheel and stomped on the brakes, and almost hit a house.....just to avoid hitting a dog that jumped out on the street. What more damage that could of caused?

He could of killed someone on the sidewalk. I don't let my dog anywhere even on the porch without a leash(ok he is loose in the fenced backyard and in the house). I feel sorry for the family but who lets a dog wander around loose.

John

groovetube
May 27th, 2010, 10:25 AM
So if someone's kid accidentally stepped out on to the street and hit by a car, the parents should get a bill for the damages?

Insurance company would get plenty from me, but it wouldn't be a penny of their bill...

MLeh
May 27th, 2010, 10:32 AM
A dog is not a child. Period.

groovetube
May 27th, 2010, 10:37 AM
concept is the same. Someone's -apparent- negligence results in damage to a car. The line is drawn at a child?

MLeh
May 27th, 2010, 10:45 AM
You're arguing just for the sake of arguing, aren't you?

groovetube
May 27th, 2010, 10:49 AM
nope, not at all. That's my opinion. Just because you don't share my opinion, doesn't make it arguing for the sake of arguing.

MLeh
May 27th, 2010, 10:55 AM
Actually what you're doing is taking my opinion, restating it using a child instead of a dog and saying that's also my opinion. I won't argue about something that is a supposition on your part.

screature
May 27th, 2010, 11:02 AM
I think groovetube's question is legitimate. At what point does 100% responsibility transfer to a parent/owner/guardian for a vehicular accident. I think to say that the dog owner is 100% responsible is wrong, surely the driver must bear some responsibility. We don't know the details, but to incur that much damage to a car from hitting a 70 lb dog in a residential neighbourhood sounds like they may have been going too fast, certainly too fast to avoid hitting a 12 year old lab. I can tell you from ample experience with labs of that age, they don't move very fast, so it is HIGHLY unlikely it just darted out and the driver was caught completely unaware. It also sounds like the driver pulled a hit and run as it was someone else who told the owner about the dog and had it die in his arms.

Macfury
May 27th, 2010, 11:05 AM
An animal is a piece of property according to the law. Not so a child.

screature
May 27th, 2010, 11:07 AM
An animal is a piece of property according to the law. Not so a child.

It isn't about property it is a about responsibility.

Macfury
May 27th, 2010, 11:13 AM
It isn't about property it is a about responsibility.

If responsibility is the only criterion, then would you suggest, as groove does, that a neglectful parent should be charged for damage caused by the collision between child and car? If the animal is seen as property, then there is no reason to allow "the property" to walk in the road. It's only a property case.

For the rest of the case you are just guessing. If the owner disputes the charges, they can be taken up in court.

chasMac
May 27th, 2010, 11:16 AM
The dog ought not be equated with an unminded child, but rather say losing control of a mower which finds itself in the middle of the road and hit by a car resulting in damage. I cannot see it being anything other than the owner's responsibility.

groovetube
May 27th, 2010, 11:18 AM
Actually what you're doing is taking my opinion, restating it using a child instead of a dog and saying that's also my opinion. I won't argue about something that is a supposition on your part.

Excuse me.... I never said anything was -your- opinion.

I think, the concept, is the same. -I-. not you, before you get all excited now. :)

RunTheWorldOnMac
May 27th, 2010, 11:58 AM
Whereas the owner is at fault for letting the dog run free (sad as that is) the issue that I have is that the police were not involved, or we aren't told. How do we know this woman wasn't drinking? In a case of an accident like this, the police should have been called.

But I guess hind sight is 20/20. Who would ever think this would happen right?

I would fight it in court if this were me. My grounds would be that we don't know the circumstances of the driver; drinking, speeding, etc. I would pay a by-law fine and that's it.

screature
May 27th, 2010, 12:00 PM
If responsibility is the only criterion, then would you suggest, as groove does, that a neglectful parent should be charged for damage caused by the collision between child and car? If the animal is seen as property, then there is no reason to allow "the property" to walk in the road. It's only a property case.

For the rest of the case you are just guessing. If the owner disputes the charges, they can be taken up in court.

It isn't a property case. It is about responsibility as that is what the insurance company claims. That the dog owner is 100% responsible and thus is liable for damages. It has nothing to do with the notion of the dog being property. So there is validity in gt's question if a child who is your responsibility and you are "negligent" while they are in your care and walk out into the street and get hit by a car are you the parent responsible for the damage to the car?

We have seen cases where kids have vandalised a store or a house and the parents are held financially responsible for the damage for example. So the issue is about responsibility. So I still say it is not reasonable that the owner of the dog is 100% responsible unless it can be proven that the dog darted out in front of the driver and the driver could not reasonably avoid hitting the dog and also depending on whether the driver was speeding or using a cell phone etc.

screature
May 27th, 2010, 12:01 PM
Whereas the owner is at fault for letting the dog run free (sad as that is) the issue that I have is that the police were not involved, or we aren't told. How do we know this woman wasn't drinking? In a case of an accident like this, the police should have been called.

But I guess hind sight is 20/20. Who would ever think this would happen right?

I would fight it in court if this were me. My grounds would be that we don't know the circumstances of the driver; drinking, speeding, etc. I would pay a by-law fine and that's it.

Exactly.

Also let them take you to court. Just ignore the insurance company is the way I would go. That way they incur the filing costs etc. and they have to decide whether or not it is worth their while.

arminia
May 27th, 2010, 03:02 PM
CBC News - Consumer Life - Car insurance scam targets Ontario drivers (http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/05/27/con-insurance-fraud.html)
So who would pay if the driver had fallen for this scam and had no insurance?

Macfury
May 27th, 2010, 03:55 PM
CBC News - Consumer Life - Car insurance scam targets Ontario drivers (http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/05/27/con-insurance-fraud.html)
So who would pay if the driver had fallen for this scam and had no insurance?

Isn't the "uninsured driver" fee everyone pays into designed to cover stuff like that?

i-rui
May 27th, 2010, 04:46 PM
We have seen cases where kids have vandalised a store or a house and the parents are held financially responsible for the damage for example. So the issue is about responsibility. So I still say it is not reasonable that the owner of the dog is 100% responsible unless it can be proven that the dog darted out in front of the driver and the driver could not reasonably avoid hitting the dog and also depending on whether the driver was speeding or using a cell phone etc.

if the dog owner ADMITTED that she let the dog out without a leash & unsupervised (which is the law - isn't it?) then she is 100% responsible.

Lichen Software
May 27th, 2010, 05:34 PM
if the dog owner ADMITTED that she let the dog out without a leash & unsupervised (which is the law - isn't it?) then she is 100% responsible.

Typically, leash laws are local by-laws for animal control. Dogs are most important and the origin of such laws because several dogs together will pack and then become a danger in their own right. This is serious enough that in parts of NWT if a stray dog is found in a school yard, RCMP is called in and the dog is shot on the spot.

Proceeding down from dogs, leash/ban laws then get to perceived nuisance. No chickens allowed in Barrie thank you. The people that institute them are usually more nuisance in and of themselves than the animals they would like to control. Just my opinion.

Back to responsibility - If you drive, you are responsible. In this province, if you are driving and you are rear ended, the only way you do not share the responsibility of the driver that hit you is if you can prove you were at a dead stop. Been there, done that.

On to the dog: Where was it? Was it moving? How fast was the car going - ie is the driver negligent and careless, drunk, stoned? Is there a police report? Was the owner interviewed by the police?...... Sounds like fishing to me. Let them sue. Send them a letter asking for proof that the driver was not careless, was not drinking, a copy of the police report etc.

screature
May 27th, 2010, 06:35 PM
if the dog owner ADMITTED that she let the dog out without a leash & unsupervised (which is the law - isn't it?) then she is 100% responsible.

How do you figure? All she is responsible for is pay the municipal fine for not having the dog on leash. What if the dog was off leash and the driver of the car was drunk and went up and and hit the dog when it was on the sidewalk. Is the owner still 100% responsible for the damage to the driver's car? Clearly no, so the dog being off leash is only is only one factor in determining responsibility. There are other mitigating and determining factors that almost always need to be considered.

The real point here is that the insurance company has unilaterally appointed themselves as judge and jury in determining responsibility, a power they don't have. If I were the owner I would ignore their bill and make them take me to court and let a an impartial and financially disinterested judge decide.

RicktheChemist
May 27th, 2010, 06:41 PM
.

i-rui
May 27th, 2010, 06:44 PM
How do you figure? All she is responsible for is pay the municipal fine for not having the dog on leash. What if the dog was off leash and the driver of the car was drunk and went up and and hit the dog when it was on the sidewalk. Is the owner still 100% responsible for the damage to the driver's car? Clearly no, so the dog being off leash is only is only one factor in determining responsibility. There are other mitigating and determining factors that almost always need to be considered.

The real point here is that the insurance company has unilaterally appointed themselves as judge and jury in determining responsibility, a power they don't have. If I were the owner I would ignore their bill and make them take me to court and let a an impartial and financially disinterested judge decide.

this is from the full article :

"State Farm interviewed the driver, police and other witnesses, said spokesman John Bordignon, adding that Canadian courts have found that the rules of negligence apply in such cases.

“This is an incredibly unfortunate circumstance, but we’re going by the precedent that we have. We see no negligence on the part of the driver and according to law, we believe the owners were negligent in the sense that they could have made sure their dog wasn’t free on the roadway,” Bordignon said."

So you're right the owner can ignore the bill, and state farm can take her to court. If their investigation is as thorough as they claim then I would wager the owner would have to pay the bill + legal costs.

screature
May 27th, 2010, 07:04 PM
this is from the full article :

"State Farm interviewed the driver, police and other witnesses, said spokesman John Bordignon, adding that Canadian courts have found that the rules of negligence apply in such cases.

“This is an incredibly unfortunate circumstance, but we’re going by the precedent that we have. We see no negligence on the part of the driver and according to law, we believe the owners were negligent in the sense that they could have made sure their dog wasn’t free on the roadway,” Bordignon said."

So you're right the owner can ignore the bill, and state farm can take her to court. If their investigation is as thorough as they claim then I would wager the owner would have to pay the bill + legal costs.

From a State Farm rep, yes well one would expect as much... He also goes on to say...

“There are many instances where we haven’t pursued subrogation when a pedestrian or cyclist is killed in a motor vehicle accident.”

Aww geez doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy....

The owner (defendant) has a right to see the evidence against her and then she can decide whether or not it is worth fighting. The point is, just because the dog is off leash does not make the owner 100% responsible as you had stated.

Clearly if there is indisputable proof that the driver was sober, not speeding, not talking on a cell phone, doing her make-up, etc., etc., i.e. she was doing everything right and she was still incapable of avoiding hitting the dog then the responsibility would lie exclusively with the owner. But we don't know that. We only have the word of a financially interested State Farm rep to go by.

I would also like to know what the police reports were based on, when based on the story reported, it appears that the driver left the scene, which if true is a crime. Fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal. We really don't know enough of the details.

In the end, the only thing we can debate is whether or not she is 100% responsible solely because the dog was off leash. It would appear that based on State Farm's own "apparent" extensive investigation, they knew it would not be enough.

i-rui
May 27th, 2010, 07:15 PM
In the end, the only thing we can debate is whether or not she is 100% responsible solely because the dog was off leash. It would appear that based on State Farm's own "apparent" extensive investigation, they knew it would not be enough.

In this case, she is (IMO) 100% responsible (and an idiot). And it's not "solely because the dog was off the leash" but, as i said before because she KNOWINGLY let her dog roam around a residential neighbourhood she should be responsible for everything that occurs because of that.

What if the dog had mauled a child? Would the child be partly responsible for trying to pet it?

The idea that the driver has to PROVE their innocence is unreasonable. If their was proof of the drivers GUILT, the owner might have a bit of a case....but to suggest the driver has to prove their innocence is ridiculous.

If the dog jumped the fence, that would be different. Obviously an owner can not control what goes on in a dogs mind and if they did take proper care in securing their animal then it could truly be classified as an accident.


it appears that the driver left the scene, which if true is a crime. Fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal.

where did you get that bit of info? I never read that.

screature
May 27th, 2010, 07:25 PM
In this case, she is (IMO) 100% responsible (and an idiot). And it's not "solely because the dog was off the leash" but, as i said before because she KNOWINGLY let her dog roam around a residential neighbourhood she should be responsible for everything that occurs because of that.

What if the dog had mauled a child? Would the child be partly responsible for trying to pet it?

The idea that the driver has to PROVE their innocence is unreasonable. If their was proof of the drivers GUILT, the owner might have a bit of a case....but to suggest the driver has to prove their innocence is ridiculous.

If the dog jumped the fence, that would be different. Obviously an owner can not control what goes on in a dogs mind and if they did take proper care in securing their animal then it could truly be classified as an accident.

You're right it is in your opinion, I just happen to hold a different opinion. As I said, State Farm appeared to be cognisant of the fact that mitigating factors and circumstances matter.

Your hypothetical situations have no bearing on what happened as these situations did not occur and if they did they would be judged very differently and again based on the mitigating factors and circumstances.

It is in no way unreasonable that the driver would have to prove her innocence. She killed an animal, a pet, (as Macfury would refer to it, someone else's property) and it is indeed reasonable to expect that she would have to prove that she in not culpable.

where did you get that bit of info? I never read that.

It was inferred from...

“Next thing I knew there was a knock on the door and a gentleman said, ‘Do you have a dog? He’s on the road,’ ” Flemming recalled. “This lady had hit him. I got to the road and he was dying. He died in my arms.”

One would think that if the driver were present they would be the one to go to the door. As I said it appears that driver may have fled, I wasn't saying it is a fact, I have no idea, just based on how the story is written, it seemed that may have been the case.

i-rui
May 27th, 2010, 10:46 PM
ohhh... i don't see that being inferred at all. I think if the driver did actually leave the scene that would've been reported in the article (that's a pretty major fact to omit).

monokitty
May 27th, 2010, 11:39 PM
Bottom line: It was an accident and I think the insurance company is being ruthless over it, even if they're in the right and by the book. I'm not disputing at all that the insurance company isn't in the wrong from a legal perspective, or that the dog owner is responsible for their own pet(s) - I'm just a little disturbed that no one appears to have a good heart in this situation.

You gotta let some things slide and redirect your moral compass at times. I don't think it's reasonable to bill the dog owner's family for damages in this case, from a moral and empathic standpoint. From a legal and technical standpoint, yes, they have all the evidence and right of way to pursue reimbursement from the dog's owner(s).

Unfortunately, we live in a society where nothing and no one can move forward without pointing fingers and blaming someone else for anything and everything that may occur. No one seems capable of accepting the fact that accidents occur and that placing blame is not necessary under every single circumstance. It truly is unfortunate.

arminia
May 27th, 2010, 11:56 PM
If you feel so strongly about it, why don't you pay the insurance company.

bsenka
May 28th, 2010, 12:21 AM
Dogs get out, it happens. Some of the m are really good at it. They are not property under your control at all times, they are living creatures with free will. Unless the dog's owner sent the dog in front of the car that him him, that owner is not in any way responsible for the accident. Is the insurance company going to sue the government if the car hit a deer?

kps
May 28th, 2010, 12:25 AM
I'm all for responsible pet ownership and clearly the pet owner in this case may have been an idiot. However, if the pet owner broke any municipal laws, then let the municipality lay those charges and have the pet owner have their day in court.

Collisions with animals, may they be pets, strays or wild, such as deer, skunks, etc. are considered road hazard and the risk is built into your policy.

The insurance company has no right to assess blame as they are biased in their own favour. As pointed out in earlier posts, we do not know the level of attentiveness of the automobile driver or the actions of both the animal and the driver.

State Farm is, as mentioned earlier, fishing.

i-rui
May 28th, 2010, 12:43 AM
Dogs get out, it happens. Some of the m are really good at it. They are not property under your control at all times, they are living creatures with free will. Unless the dog's owner sent the dog in front of the car that him him, that owner is not in any way responsible for the accident. Is the insurance company going to sue the government if the car hit a deer?

i would agree with you if that was the case here, but it's not. The owner let her dog roam freely around the neighbourhood (without a leash or handler anywhere near it). IMO that's incredibly irresponsible.

i wonder if the driver had to pay a deductible? or if an additional claim on her policy raised her premium? Do you think it's fair to the driver that she has to go through a ton of stress and inconvenience (no one wants to hit a dog) just because some pet owner thinks she has the right to let her dog run around the neighbourhood untethered?

monokitty
May 28th, 2010, 01:33 AM
If you feel so strongly about it, why don't you pay the insurance company.

Probably because I'm not a multi-million dollar insurance company that won't notice a $1,700 deduction from my bank account. Though if I did have that kind of money, I would have paid the insurance company off on their behalf by now.

bsenka
May 28th, 2010, 03:37 AM
i would agree with you if that was the case here, but it's not. The owner let her dog roam freely around the neighbourhood

They didn't force the driver of the car to hit the dog.

simon
May 28th, 2010, 08:40 AM
this story hit FARK.com this morning and now is viral ... right or wrong, State Farm is going to take this on the chin. I predict a withdraw of the claim in 3... 2... 1...

Macfury
May 28th, 2010, 08:53 AM
If I were STATE FARM I would have been really careful about making such a claim, regardless of whether they were in the right or not.

RunTheWorldOnMac
May 28th, 2010, 09:56 AM
this story hit FARK.com this morning and now is viral ... right or wrong, State Farm is going to take this on the chin. I predict a withdraw of the claim in 3... 2... 1...

Bingo! Moral of the story "Good one dummy!" Whomever adjusted this claim just made State Farm look like a bunch of douche bags. Is this negative publicity worth a couple grand?