On Thursday, June 19, 2003, at approximately 2:30pm my son was driving down Bells Ferry Road in Woodstock, GA, with a friend as a passenger in my 2001 Nissan Altima when they were hit head on by a man named Victor Adolfo Figueroa. Mr. Figueroa lost control of his car, fish-tailed out of his lane causing his car to strike the front of the car they were riding in. He hit them so hard that his vehicle went up over the hood of my car, tearing one of the back wheels off of his car before it veered off into a wooded area and hit a tree. The impact on the car was so great that it forced everything backwards to the point that it busted the dash on the inside of the Nissan. The impact would probably have been much worse had it not been for the fact that my son saw the car coming at him, had no where to go to get out of the way, so he slammed on the brakes and was almost at a full stop when he was hit.
Mr. Figueroa, who did not have a scratch on him was arrested on the spot while my son and his friend were transported to the hospital by ambulance. Mr Figueroa was insured by Safeway Ins Company of Georgia. My son was found to be at no fault in the accident, while Mr Figueroa was charged with Driving Under the Infulence, Failure to Maintain his Lane and Driving Without a License. At his court appearance in Cherokee County (case# 03T7826) he was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to 24 months in jail but instead was allowed to spent 15 days in jail with the remainder of his sentence being served on probation, along with 40 hours of community service and court fines of $1355.00. His probation expires in November of 2005. This proves absolutely that Mr. Figueroa and his insurance company, Safeway are liable for the damages.
My son and his passenger were both injured in the accident. Thank god for seat belts and air bags or they both probably would have been killed. My son suffered a head concussion, a laceration to his left arm, burns to his face and forearms, a damaged blood vessle in his sinus cavity/nose, spinal injuries and a number of bruises and scrapes. He missed a week of work and was so upset that he refused to get behind the wheel of a car again for over a week. Even riding in a car with someone else driving made him extremely nervous. In addition to suffering from the head and back injuries for months, he also suffered from frequent spontanious nose bleeds, that were almost impossible to stop, for 4 months before the damaged blood vessle in his nose healed.
It is kind of a long story but while I had an insurable interest in the vehicle and it was properly insured by Progressive, technically I did not own the vehicle, so the settlement on the vehicle did not go to me or my son. The Nissan vehicle was found to be a total loss and I assume his old Camero was too. Safeway Insurance had determined the Nissan was a total loss within 2 days of the accident but did not offer a cash settlement on the car for 31 days at which time they sent a check to the registered owner of the car. (Did not get near what the car was worth either.) In the mean time since I am disabled and needed transportion to get to and from my various and frequent doctors appointments I had to rent a car. With all the medical bills, car rental and lost wages it adds up to a little over $5000.00, not including what I lost of my financial investment in the settlment on the car. I had to go without a car for a full year until I could come up with enough money to buy an older used car to replace the one I had lost. I am being hounded by numerous collection agencies over the remaing balances on the medical bills not to mention what it is doing to my credit.
Trying to deal with Safeway has turned into a long frustrating nightmare. I am 51 yrs old and have had to deal with a few insurance companies in the past 30 or so years but never in my entire life have I run into any company like Safeway. My past experiences have always been that an insurance company was more than happy and willing to deal with a reasonable individual to reach a settlement rather than run the risk of having them take their case to court--especially when it was blatantly clear they would lose if it ever got to court.
I have called Safeway more times that I can count trying to get someone to talk to me about a settlement for our bills and my son's pain and suffering. Never once have I been able to talk to a real person--all I ever get is a voice mail and despite leaving dozens of messages not one of my calls have been returned. NOT ONE!! I have also sent them two demand letters with absolutely no response. I sent the last one by UPS requiring a delivery signature so that I would have proof that they had received it and again have not received any response. I even made sure to give them copies of all the bills along with signed medical release forms for every place/person that treated my son. I know for a fact that they have settled with my son's passenger and the Nissan vehicle owner but they will not even talk to me. They should at least have to acknowledge our claim and they have not even done that. We are not greedy people, we just want a fair and equitable settlement and to be done with this whole mess so we can put it behind us.
I understand that at this point my only option is to file a lawsuit in small claims court (for up to $15,000) in Cherokee County against Mr. Figueroa (where his vehicle was registered at the time). Hopefully Mr. Figueroa is still at the same address so that he can be served the court papers because I am sure that the probation department is not going to be willing to tell me anything about him or if he has changed his addresse (if they even know). I believe I heard the Judge say in court that Mr. Figueroa was in this country illegally, with a Mexican drivers license so who knows if he even bothered to stick around to serve his probation or pay his fines. I know the Judge told him that his criminal convictions could affect his status in the U.S. but the Cherokee County jail say they have no record of him being turned over to the INS, which they would have if he had been pick up and deported directly from jail.
I got the forms from the county court to file the lawsuit but must do so immediately before the statue of limitations is up (2 yrs in GA which gives me until June 18, 2005) but I am not completely sure how to properly fill them out so if there is anyone that could give me a little advise, direction or help it would certainly be appreciated. I would welcome any help or advise that I can get or at least someone to answer a few basic questions about how to properly file the lawsuit. I can't afford to have the lawsuit thrown out over some little technicality. We desperately need our money back.
This whole situation has placed an enormous strain on my family both financially and emotionally. I am a single disabled mother with one son, and we live month to month with never any money left over and just barely get by as it is. I was employed by a major government defense contractor for 17 years before becoming disabled after three failed back operations which forced my retirement and things have been very hard on us since that time. Because my son is under 21 our insurance rates are already sky high and I can not afford to claim this on our insurance and have it go up any higher than it already is or we will not be able to afford to keep it.
After reading all the other reports on this site it is beyond me why the State of Georgia continues to let Safeway operate here. They need to be kicked out of the State of Georgia for good or at least be forced to change their business practices or face stiff fines from the state if they fail to do so. Heck, I am still trying to figure out how someone without a valid license is even able to buy insurance from ANY insurance company even Safeway. I know they are considered a substandard insurance company and insure high risk drivers but this is ridiculous. Why should they be allowed to collect high insurance fees from their customers if they are never made to pay out on any claims when their insured is clearly at fault? They are obviously making a lot of money off of all the legal as well as illegal immigrants that are living here--must be why so many of the Safeway employee names that I have heard of appear to be of foreign descent. I guess being bi-lingual is a real necessity at their company.
I think that the Georgia State Insurance Commissioner needs to wake up and take a good long hard look at this company and their business practices. I also think we need some new laws in this state. I think it should be mandatory that in order to register a vehicle and obtain a tag in any county or to be issued insurance by any company in Georgia, or any other state for that matter, that the person must show a valid U.S. issued drivers license and have proof of citizenship or a valid visa or green card. If they can not show proof of their legal status, then the company should be required by law to notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the persons whereabouts so that they can be deported as they rightfully should be. I am a legal tax paying U.S. citizen and feel that I am being abused by this company and their business practices as well as by the State of Georgia for allowing it. My tax dollars go to pay the Insurance Commissioners salary and he needs to do his job and make Safeway a responsible company.
Please help me if you can. I have given ripoffreport.com my permission to let anyone contact me that can be of any help. Thank you in advance.
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Safeway Insurance