Better Call Behnken: Broken street light rains glass on woman’s car, county denies claim

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Angie Hall was driving along Cattleman Road, near Doctors Hospital, in Sarasota when it started raining glass.

“Bam, it looked like a hail storm had just hit me,” Hall said.

“It scared the crap out of me because I just couldn’t imagine what it was.”glassdingsbcb

Glass from a street light fell onto her car, leaving Hall’s hood and windshield dinged up.

She said she called the county and was told to get estimates. She thought that meant the county would pay for the repairs on her 2004 Lexus.

“Well, when someone tells you to get estimates, that is what you would naturally assume, yeah,” Hall said.

She sent in two estimates, one for $1,249 and the other for $2,049.

Then, the county changed it’s mind and offered a theory, pointing the blame somewhere else.

A county claims adjuster said it was determined a third party shot out the glass.

Because of that, she was told her claim was denied and she was on her own to fix her car.

Hall happens to be an experienced shooter and said there was no way the flat glass was shot out. She asked for proof, and there was none. No casing. No bullet holes.

In the county’s view, the reason doesn’t really matter.  The county’s legal staff points to a Florida law that gives government a legal shield to hide behind.

A county spokesman tells 8 On Your Side there’s no evidence of negligence. According to the statute, Hall would have to prove the county knew of a problem and ignored it.

Legal experts tell 8 On Your Side that the county could cover the damage if they wanted to. The legal defense is a legitimate one, but other municipalities across the country have stepped up in similar situations and covered damages when street lamps fail.

“I pay taxes,” Hall said. “The county should have an insurance policy to cover this.”

A Sarasota county spokesman sent this statement to 8 On Your Side:

“As stated in the letter to Ms. Hall, the claim does not prove negligence and Sarasota County is not legally liable, according to Florida Statute. The county did not have prior notice that there was an issue with this light; no hazardous condition existed prior to the glass breakage; upon notification by Ms. Hall of this condition, the street light was scheduled for repair.”

“This claim was investigated and handled consistent with other liability claims filed against the county.”

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