Business

Long road to compensation

TELL Claudienne

Claudienne Edwards

Sunday, January 28, 2018

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Dear Claudienne,

On April 12, 2017, while taking her usual route on Highway 2000 to work from Old Harbour to Clarendon, my wife SF, a teacher, was involved in an accident. She was heading towards the May Pen toll booth when two dogs ran across the road. She had to swerve the car to avoid hitting one of the dogs, but ended up hitting the other, resulting in damage to the front bumper of her motor car.

Needless to say, she and my three-year-old daughter (who also travels to school with her) were traumatised after the incident.

She reported the accident to the Operators (Supervisor/ Manager on duty at the time) at the toll booth, who apologised and instructed her to complete a form. She assured my wife that someone would contact her on the matter. Days passed and she was not contacted.

When my wife called to get an update, she was told that they would fix the car. However, they told her to contact her insurance company for them to arrange the settlement with the highway.

We submitted a claim to our insurance company (through our broker) with the details, including the complaint form and an estimate for repairs.

The insurance broker advised us that they had some trouble getting information from Highway 2000/ Jamaican Infrastructure Operator (JIO) in order to contact their insurers.

After such a long time we are now (November 22, 2017) being told that they are not willing to stand liability for the damage to the vehicle.The letter we received from JIO stated the following:

“JIO regrets any loss that you may have suffered arising from the reported accident. However, under the circumstances we cannot be liable and do not accept responsibility. Damages attributable to fallen objects or other elements introduced by third parties, living or inanimate, would not consititute breach of duty and care nor ascribe liability on the part of the operator.

Various measures are employed by the company to prevent stray animals from entering the highway, and which measures we consider to be reasonable. In the circumstances we deny that there is any negligence by the company, and for this reason we have no choice but to deny responsibility for this claim.”

I would appreciate your help in this matter. I believe that it is their responsibility to ensure that there are no gaps in the fence to allow animals onto the highway, which could result in very serious accidents.

HF

Dear HF,

On December13, 2017, Tell Claudienne made the Manager of the Toll Authority aware of your wife's accident on the highway.

The manager noted that people living in communities near the highway were in the habit of cutting the fence to enable their goats and other animals to graze on the verges of the highway. There were also people who stole the highway fence, she said.

The Toll Authority manager promised to discuss the incident at a meeting with the toll operator and the Ministry of Transport on Friday December 15, 2017.

After the meeting the manager phoned Tell Claudienne and suggested that we speak with the CEO of Trans Jamaica Highway to find out if he would meet with you and your wife. When we spoke to the CEO's assistant on December 19, 2017, she said that he was off the island.

However, the JIO's Public Relations Manager NK telephoned Tell Claudienne to discuss the matter and to explain why the company had not accepted liability. She said the following:

“Our investigations do not present the evidence, as

(1) The JIO highway patrol officers found no road kill one mile in either direction of the alleged accident.

(2) There was no police report, as your wife did not report the accident to the police.

(3) Accidents that have not occurred on the highway have been blamed on the highway.

(4) If any other evidence that can endorse her case is presented, we would be willing to reassess her claim.”

Tell Claudienne then asked the TJO and the JIO if they would meet with you and your wife. We also asked the JIO public relations manager for clarification on certain issues. Our e-mail to the JIO Public Relations Manager NK requesting the clarification stated:

“SF, who is a teacher, told Tell Claudienne that when she reached her workplace after the accident on the morning of April 12, 2017, she phoned the May Pen toll booth to make a report. She said she was instructed to come to the office and complete a form. She was told that it would be OK for her to complete the form in the evening even though the accident had occurred in the morning.

Please clarify:

Does Trans Jamaica HIghway TJH /JIO log phone calls?

Can TJH/JIO establish if a phone call was received from SF on the morning of April 12, 2017?

On the evening of April 12, 2017 at “approximately 4:15 pm” SF said that she visited the May Pen toll booth office and completed the form. She said that her report of the accident was logged in a book at the toll booth office.

Please clarify:

Has the investigation established that the incident was logged in the book at the toll booth on April 12, 2017?

Has the investigation established which supervisor/manager was on duty at the time and spoke to SF?

According to the public relations manager NK, “No road kill was found within one mile in either direction of the accident.”

Please clarify how the fact that “no road kill was found” establishes that SF's car was not damaged by the intrusion of dog(s) on thetoll road on April 12, 2017.

Please clarify whether SF's report of the incident stated that the collision of the bumper of her car with the dog resulted in the death of the dog(s).

Is TJH/JIO aware that some dogs that collide with motor vehicles do not die?

Please clarify what additional information TJH/JIO would need to establish that SF's car collided with dogs that had intruded onto the toll road.”

On January 9, 2018 Tell Claudienne received the following e-mail from JIO:

“We acknowledge receipt of your communications regarding SF. We confirm the information given to you during your discussion with NK .As we continually comply with our quality system and procedures, we are dealing with all our customers in an equal manner. Should SF want to express concerns about the treatment of this incident, she may contact the Highway 2000 East-West's customer service at 925-4555 ext 7202 or email us at jio@h2k-jio.com to arrange a meeting or have further discussions with us.”

We forwarded the JIO e-mail to you, and note that you communicated with them and arrived at an amicable settlement.

On January 19, 2018, Tell Claudienne received the following e-mail from you:

“Please see attached the letter received from JIO when I picked up the cheque today. Amount on cheque is $25,972.50.

A BIG THANK YOU AGAIN. We very much appreciated your efforts.”

Tell Claudienne wishes you all the best.

Have a problem with a store, utility, or company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42

1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail: edwardsc@jamaicaobserver.com. Please include a contact phone number.

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