Better Call Behnken: Disabled veteran’s car damaged, insurance company won’t help

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Sam Bell, a disabled Marine, was asleep inside his Riverview home when his car, his lifeline to get around in the community, was hit by a semi-truck.

“It was picked up and dropped back down to the earth,” Bell said.

The driver left the scene of the accident, but Bell’s friends jumped in their car and sped after the truck and called law enforcement.

An incident report was written up, but none of the insurance companies involved have stepped up to help Bell get his 1997 Ford fixed.

Bell is left without transportation and fed up with the lack of answers. He says his calls to multiple insurance companies aren’t returned.

“Once it broke the radiator, it’s made the car unsafe for me to travel,” Bell said. “I volunteer at the VA. I also still do therapies at the VA.”

The car is a lifeline for Bell. It’s equipped so that the disabled Marine, who was injured in Iraq and then became paraplegic in a motorcycle accident, can drive using only his hands.

“I’ve been utilizing a track chair, which is my tank power chair and a power chair, which I have blown three tires on just so I can go back and forth to the grocery store,” Bell said.

Sheriff’s deputies tracked down the truck driver, but none of the insurance companies involved paid Bell a visit.

“As a matter of three weeks now, I have not gotten an adjuster or a reliable phone call back,” he said.

He called Better Call Behnken for answers and News Channel 8 found Bell’s insurance company USAA won’t cover the damage because he doesn’t have collision insurance.

Bell said he would still expect that a company that prides itself on helping veterans would at least help him hold the right company responsible.

A representative with USAA says the company is trying to work as a mediator, but this situation is complicated.

The driver works for EXP Logistics, of St. Cloud. That company rents their trucks from Penske. EXP Logistics’ insurance company is Old Republic.

Every insurance representative we called was sympathetic, but so far no one is willing to step up and fix Bells’ car.

“Where have I gone wrong?” Bell said. “Why have I been left here?”

Investigator Shannon Behnken continues to work to help Bell pinpoint the correct insurance company responsible and them hold them accountable.

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