‘If I Hit Your Car… I Would Be Liable’: Frustrated Virginia Mom Blasts City for Refusing to Pay for Repairs After Its Dump Truck Driver Admittedly ‘Overestimated’ and Wrecked Her Car

A Virginia woman was furious that the city of Norfolk won’t pay to repair damages after a sanitation truck wrecked her car.

Five months after the crash, she was still waiting for the city to take accountability.

One local business stepped up to help the single mom who wanted to give the car to her teenage daughter.

Norfolk Woman's Car Hit By Garbage Truck
Chavonne Grant points to damage caused to her vehicle by a Norfolk dump truck. (Photo: YouTube Screenshot/WAVY)

Chavonne Grant’s neighbor witnessed the trash truck ride down their street before ramming into her 2007 BMW 328i. The car, which was parked outside of the owner’s home, was hit so hard the truck got stuck, and the back of the car was totaled, WAVY reported.

“There’s a gaping hole right here, the whole tire rod, the tire was flattened. The bumper was pushed up, but the bumper was on the ground. It’s completely cracked. … The hood had to be pushed down,” Grant said while describing the damages done to her car on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.

The driver was “extremely apologetic” and took responsibility for the crash, according to the woman.

“He came out, he explained that he was covering a shift and he was moving too fast and over or underestimated my car,” Grant said.

After extending his apologies, the truck driver assured her the damages would be covered by the city’s insurance, and the two made a police report regarding the accident.

However, the city has not.

Grant says she waited for weeks to hear back from the city, but no one would respond to her.

In an effort to push through red tape, she contacted her city councilman, who later sent a third-party adjuster to look at the car.

Two weeks later, Grant finally heard from the city. In a letter, officials said the city of Norfolk has sovereign immunity in circumstances like hers and told her the repairs would not be fixed on its dime.

The single mom said the accident has disenfranchised her and now she is “extremely frustrated” and “overwhelmed.”

She also frowned on the city’s claim of sovereignty, noting how unfair it seems.

She said, “If I hit your car right now, I would be liable. It just makes it seem they can do anything to our property and I’m sure people are not aware of this.”

The doctrine of Sovereign Immunity typically means a person who works for the government and causes injury to someone while working within the scope of their job for the government cannot be sued by the victim. Sovereign Immunity can be waived by the courts. This happens if evidence can prove that the government employee was doing something illegal or reckless, like drinking on the job.

The city’s attorney’s office issued a statement stating it is their discretion to determine which claims the city is liable to pay.

Given the nature and extent of the City’s operations across numerous Departments and throughout the City, there, unfortunately, are situations where property damage occurs,” it read before detailing that when officials in Norfolk receive claims for property damage, the municipality conducts its investigation to determine if it is “legally responsible” for damages.

“A determination whether the City has legal liability is based on the facts of the event and on application of the law to the facts. Many times, claimants present sympathetic cases for losses, but the City, like other local governmental entities, can only pay damages when it is legally liable,” the city’s lawyers stated.

Norfolk’s attorney said Grant’s claim was not received until Jan. 23 and after being “thoroughly investigated” it was denied on Feb. 21.

According to the investigation, “the City’s driver was actively picking up refuse at the time of the incident and that, therefore, the City had immunity with respect to this claim and is not liable,” given the Sovereign Immunity law.

The city then suggested Grant “continue to pursue her property damage claim with her insurance company.”

After hearing the news from the city, Grant said she was “really disappointed.”

A local auto repair shop heard about Grant’s plight and stepped up as a good Samaritan to help her out.

The Elite Auto Body in Virginia Beach offered to repair Grant’s car free of charge.

Nick Ciavarra, Elite Auto’s body shop manager, said, “My painter Alex was watching the news, and he saw the story and thought it would be a neat idea. We’ve done charity work before.”

The car shop got in touch with the woman through WAVY, and her car was fixed. The woman’s anxiety seems to subside after receiving the unexpected help.

“Words can’t even explain how grateful I am,” Grant said in another interview with WAVY.

“I just want to say to Elite Auto Body thank you so very much. You have no idea,” she said. “I promised myself I wouldn’t be up here crying, so I’m not going to cry.”

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