Saturday, August 26, 2006

Uninsured Driver Yet To Pay Victim


It's been a year and a half since a hit-and-run accident in Pender County put Laurie James in the hospital.

The accident shattered her foot and crushed her arm.

Authorities found Hermelindo Sanchez responsible for the accident and the courts ordered him to pay Laurie's uninsured medical expenses.

Laurie has never been able to collect a dime from Mr. Sanchez. She has had eight surgeries and spent over a month in the hospital recovering from an accident in April 2005.

She was hit head-on by a Camaro owned by Hermelindo Sanchez, who didn't have insurance.

Laurie's medical bills so far have run close to a quarter of a million dollars, and her uninsured motorist insurance has only picked up about half of the cost.

"It's overwhelming. I receive new bills every day," Laurie said. "He should come in and pay what my insurance does not pay, that's only right."

The courts agreed. They put Hermelindo on supervised probation and ordered him to pay for Laurie's uninsured medical expenses.

But after a year passed Laurie had yet to receive a single restitution payment.

"I'm sure if he doesn't come forth and start paying on some of these bills it's going to mess up my credit," Laurie said. "I don't make that kind of money."

Laurie called the probation office to find out where her money was and was shocked to learn Hermelindo had been taken off of supervised probation, and a judge had waived the order that he pay Laurie restitution.

Managers at the local probation office say they tried to reach Laurie last year to find out details on her medical expenses. They actually mailed her two letters looking for information and say they got no response.

Probation office supervisor Jean Walker said, "We try to be very sensitive to the needs of victims, and we make every effort possible to try and contact the victims. If we don't hear from them we may assume that there is no restitution owed."

Laurie says she's not sure what happened. She said between her medical ordeal, her wedding that had to be delayed because of the accident and filing insurance claims, she's had a lot going on.

She passed her paperwork on to her attorney, and thinks the letters from the probation office may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

But Laurie is in disbelief that failing to respond to a form letter could get Hermelindo off the hook. At this point Laurie's only remedy is to go after Hermelindo Sanchez in civil court.

But the fact is, $100,000 is a lot of money, and there's no guarantee that he could come up with the funds to pay her even if she won a judgment in court.

If you see this guy ask him when he plans on paying Laurie.

Photo from WWAY TV 3

posted by David at 9:03 PM :: Permalink ::

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