Better Call Behnken: Disabled veteran finally compensated for car damaged by semi-truck

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Sam Bell again has the freedom to drive his car. It’s a freedom the disabled Marine doesn’t take lightly.

In November, as he slept inside his home, a semi-truck slammed into his car and left it undriveable. None of the companies involved would step up, leaving him without a car through the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays. 

He called 8 On Your Side to help get his voice heard. We found an insurance maze of companies pointing the blame elsewhere.

Finally, last week, Bell received a check from Old Republic, the insurance company for Penske, which owns the truck that hit Bell. Even that company denies blame, though, saying it should be up to EXP Logistics, the company that rented the truck, to pay Bell.

The owner of that company, Michael Chapman, told 8 On Your Side in December that he would meet with Bell and make an offer. Instead, he met with Bell and never returned his calls after that.

A Penske representative said that’s why Penske agreed to reimburse Bell the $674.14 that it took to get his car running again. But, the company plans to seek reimbursement from EXP Logistics.

Bell is happy to have some money back, but he said what touched him most about this story is the support he received from other Marines.

Some Marines he had not heard from in a decade saw our story online and reached out to help.

One started a Go Fund Me page online and more than $2,000 was raised. Bell plans to use that money to buy a van, equipped in a way that would be more comfortable for him to get in and out of.

“It’s an honor that somebody would step up and say, ‘Hey, what are you guys going to do?’ That makes my heart swell.” he said.

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