RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Who's liable, and how do you collect, when the parking valet returns your car and it's damaged?
The person driving the car when it's damaged is liable. Because it can be tough to prove, it's best to inspect your car when it's returned to you, before you drive off.
Troy Jones was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. For six years, he's given his car keys to a valet and walked inside VCU's Massey Cancer Center for treatments. He never had any trouble with Standard Parking valets, until now.
"When I handed over my keys that day, I didn't expect to go into the hospital," said Jones.
After Jones' unexpected five-day hospital stay, the valet returned his car and keys, but Jones says he didn't see the damage until the next day at home.
"You're not going to notice that. I was taking stuff out of my car... I walked back to the car, that's when I noticed it," said Jones.
A Maaco estimate says it's $411. Jones worked hard trying to resolve the nearly year-old claim and says it was incredibly difficult getting what he needed from Massey and the parking attendants.
"I would ask them, 'who do I see in reference to submitting a claim?' and they would say they do not know," said Jones.
Jones did a lot, even called police and the state corporation commission trying to get company information. Eventually, he filed a claim, and Standard Parking denied it last year.
"It's their fault. They're the ones who had the accident," said Jones.
The corporate office wrote to Jones: once a vehicle is driven away from the premises, a fair determination cannot be made as to when and where the damage occurred. The letter did not address giving claim information to customers.
"If they just own up to taking care of the claim and just putting a sign out, saying those responsible for parking garage," said Jones.
I reached out to Standard and got stonewalled too. The claims adjuster hung up on me, but my persistence paid off. I finally got a hold of the media rep.
"The difficulty Troy Jones had was unacceptable," said Michael Wolf. "We will fix that. We are in the process of making sure that whatever happened doesn't again."
After several discussions, Standard Parking will pay the claim. Jones is thankful but says it shouldn't take a news investigation.
"If that's what it calls for to put a light on the situation ... that's what we'll do," said Jones.
You should ask company ownership and claims questions upfront. Businesses typically don't post the information for fear it might encourage claims.
VCU Massey Cancer Center says it's insurance department, under VCU Parking and Transportation, is now handling valet damage claims. VCU says the change was made February 1.