MAGNA, Utah — It’s been a long nine months for a couple in Magna waiting on insurance to help them fix damage to their yard caused by a car accident.
This is not the first time they’ve dealt with a problem like this and the home’s damage is not all to the story.
FOX 13 Investigates took a look at a broader issue not only affecting this couple’s wallet but everyone’s safety.
“People are doing 50, 60, 70 miles an hour down this road, it’s extremely dangerous,” explained Sue Aton.
We first met Sue in March, a few weeks after her home was caught in the crosshairs of an accident at 8000 West and 3100 South in Magna.
The estimated damage: $21,000.
“When someone hits that, it shakes the whole house, so we automatically knew this wall had been hit,” says Sue of the time of the accident.
That hit was caught on Sue’s camera situated right outside her front door.
“All we know is that on the video both cars are flying, so we just want to know who is at fault here.”
The video shows after the collision, a Chevy pick-up rams through the home’s barrier.
The police report shows that a truck was driving northbound down 8000 West and a Honda Pilot headed eastbound down 3100 South.
The Pilot’s impact pushes the truck into Sue’s yard.
But from the camera’s angle you can’t see who ran a red light to cause the accident.
Police say no one was cited.
In the 40 years Sue’s lived in her home, there’s never been confusion about who pays up after accidents like this.
“We didn’t have a problem getting them to pay for it except one hit and run and we ended up having to take that on our insurance, which we got canceled and our insurance went up over it.”
Who should be held responsible for this damage?
For months, FOX 13 has been back and forth with the Aton’s home insurance company, American Family, to see if the Chevy Silverado or Honda Pilot involved will have to fork out any money.
The Aton’s did file a claim with American Family and were paid the maximum amount their policy covers.
The amount of money that one or both vehicles involved will have to pay is in arbitration, the process of dispute resolution outside of a court.
The Aton’s were told that decision would be made by December, nine months after the accident.
They were sent a letter from the Honda Pilot’s insurance company, also American Family.
The letter says in part: “After a thorough investigation, we have determined the legal liability for this loss does not rest with our insured because based on evidence review, our insured vehicle, the 2012 Honda Pilot, had a green light when entering the intersection when the other vehicle, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado, ran a red light and collided with our vehicle. Based on the lack of negligence on the part of our insured, we must respectfully deny liability on behalf of our insured. Based on the denial, we will be unable to assist you with your damages.”
We asked American Family how their investigation came to that conclusion when police did not cite either driver and Sue’s video did not show whose light was red.
We have not received a specific answer on that part of the investigation, but we took our questions to an insurance expert to find out how similar cases are typically reviewed.
“The automobiles that were involved in the accident, their insurance companies will have to determine the fault,” says Janet Ruiz with the Insurance Information Institute. “It could be 49-51, it could be 50-50. Those auto insurance companies would then possibly be the ones to subrogate it by the homeowner’s insurance company if the homeowner puts the claim into her homeowner’s insurance.”
We requested reports for all the accidents that have occurred around 8000 West and 3100 South.
Unified Police tell us their records only date back to 2010, the year the department was formed.
We found 54 accidents or incidents have occurred within this radius between 2010 to present day.
Several of the reports note drivers going at a high rate of speed or drivers being confused about whose light was green.
“There has been a lot of accidents on this corridor. There’s a lot of accidents at 4172, which is the next light down,” says Magna’s mayor Dan Peay. “Why? I can’t answer that question. It seems like the people coming down are going too fast.”
Mayor Peay told FOX 13 he’s talked to the Unified Police Department about occasionally monitoring the road, but that there are just too many roads in Magna to keep a patrol there.
He also said the intersection meets Salt Lake County’s safety requirements.
We asked again what could done to keep homes and drivers safer.
“I’ll talk with the Chief and see what he says. I think he would be interested. I don’t know that he can do it, but I think he would definitely listen. We’ll try anything if it’ll save time and property and lives.”
As for Sue, she is still waiting to see if anyone will have to pay for the remainder of the repairs they need.
Because there’s no place like home and home should be safe.
“This traffic is enormous on the street. We don’t want to move. We could move, but we don’t want to move. This is our home.”
That arbitration process is still ongoing.
We’re told a final decision is supposed to be made this month to see which vehicle will have to pay for the remainder of the damages.
FOX 13 did follow up with the mayor of Magna to see if any progress had been made on getting more patrols at that intersection.
He said he doesn’t see it happening.
Clinton Mora is a reporter for Trending Insurance News. He has previously worked for the Forbes. As a contributor to Trending Insurance News, Clinton covers emerging a wide range of property and casualty insurance related stories.