Monday, June 8, 2009
Help Me Howard: Plane Into Car
Here is a nice thought, you go to the park with your family to have a quiet picnic. Great idea. Then a plane crashes into your car. That's right, a remote control plane busts through your windshield, ruins the picnic and now, for one girl, has left her carless, so who has to pay for the crash landing? Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser has the answer.
WSVN -- Stephanie has a degree in psychology with a minor in animal behavior, so picking between a person or a pet is easy for her.
Stephanie Lukas: "People are very complicated, and they have a lot of feelings and emotions and needs, and wants. Dogs are very simple. They just want love and attention."
The day we saw her, Stephanie was working with Hannibal at Markham Park, much different than her last trip there.
Stephanie Lukas: "Well, I'm sitting there, having this picnic. We just sat down to eat, and I see this little plane come over my head, and I'm thinking, what's that plane doing here?"
Markham Park is a favorite place for people to fly their remote control planes, but Stephanie got to see one in a way she will never forget.
Stephanie Lukas: "All of a sudden, I hear a sound that sounds like a bomb going off, towards the parking lot, and I think, oh, no, that thing did not just hit my car."
Oh, yeah, as these pictures show, it hit her car all right.
Stephanie Lukas: "The airplane is in pieces, my car is destroyed, the back window is completely gone, and the plane is still moving, tearing up the leather and everything."
A few minutes later, the owner of the plane came running up.
Stephanie Lukas: "I said, OK, this is my car. He said, 'Well, you've destroyed my airplane.' Yeah, and I said, 'Yeah, well, your airplane destroyed my car."
The park and police filled out reports, the plane's owner then made Stephanie an offer.
Stephanie Lukas: "He said he'd give me $100. He said that he didn't feel that the damage to the car would be more than $100, and that was what he was willing to pay."
Stephanie's car was towed to the dealer a few days later. We went with her when she got the estimate to repair it.
Stephanie Lukas: "I can't believe it. I'm like totally in shock. I knew it was bad, but I don't even know what to say."
Stephanie has car insurance, but she is afraid to file a claim.
Stephanie Lukas: "Which means that I would have to pay the deductible, and then my rates would go up when my car was in the parking lot."
Now she can't drive her car and can't get anyone to pay to repair her car.
Stephanie Lukas: "Nobody wants to pay for it. The park doesn't want to be responsible for it, the guy that did it doesn't think there is any damage, I surely don't want to go through my insurance."
Well, Howard, you are at a county park, a plane hits your car, who has to pay?
Howard Finkelstein: "The easy answer, whoever is flying the plane is legally responsible for any damage they cause. If they have insurance, good for them. If they don't, they still have to pay."
When I contacted Markham Park, they told me the plane owners have to be registered and insured with the Academy of Model Aeronautics. When I contacted them, they said their insurance would cover the damage, but only if the plane owner's homeowner's insurance would not pay. I then spoke to the plane owner, who told me he was careful that day, but he lost radio contact with the plane. He then gave us his homeowner's insurance information, and Stephanie filed a claim with them to get her car repaired.
And, by the way, Howard says, Stephanie was smart to avoid filing a claim with her car insurance company.
Howard Finkelstein: "Anytime you file a claim with your insurance company, whether you are at fault or not, your rates could get raised or they could drop you, and if not this time, maybe the next time you file a claim."
Stephanie won't have to use her car insurance, but if anyone ever asks how her car was damaged, she will certainly have a wild story to tell.
Patrick Fraser: "What's it like to walk up to your car and see a plane sticking through it?"
Stephanie Lukas: "It was a shock, and when I called back to my friends and family that were there and I said, there is a plane in my car, nobody believed me. It was very shocking."
The plane's owner had insurance to cover any damage he caused, but he told me he didn't have insurance to replace the plane. Stephanie lost her car for a few days, he lost a $3,000 airplane. Ouch.
Problem crash into your lap out of the clear blue sky? Need to air your concerns? Land with us. To put it planely, we like to think we've got the model for success.