Don't Shop At Target When It's Raining If You Don't Want Your Car To Get Crushed

A few weeks ago, as Tropical Storm Hermine breezed through Texas, a pregnant mother of two exited a San Antonio Target store to find her car crushed beneath a fallen parking lot light pole. And now, she says, the retail chain has left her to foot the $10,000 repair bill herself.

According to the woman, shortly after filing a claim for the damage done to her car, she received a notice from the company that handles Target’s claims that the company wasn’t responsible for the damage since it believes the light pole fell because of Hermine’s 64mph winds.

targetpolegrab.JPG

The now-carless former Target shopper is obviously taking issue with that finding. She wants to know why only that one pole fell if the winds were so strong. She has taken photos of the base of the fallen pole which she claims show deterioration.

“Does that mean I should not shop at Target if it’s raining and windy?” She asked local news station WOAI.

A rep for Target told the local ABC affiliate KSAT:

“We have been in contact with the guest regarding the incident and will continue to work directly with her regarding her claim… We handle each claim on a case by case basis and are unable to provide additional information on specific incidents.

Are there any insurance experts out there that would like to share their views on this story? What would she need to prove in order for Target’s insurer to pay out the claim?

Light Pole Victim Says Target Denies Damage Claim [KSAT.com]
Light pole falls in Target parking lot, destroys young mom’s car [WOAI.com]

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  1. NightSteel says:

    “What would she need to prove in order for Target’s insurer to pay out the claim?”

    That she can make not paying it more expensive to them than paying it.

    • invisibelle says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    • JuanHunt says:

      The parking lots is almost certainly not Targets responsibility, as Target just leases the store property. But, the owner of the parking lot is responsible and should pay, and probably will when contacted.

      • Gulliver says:

        Property owners are not responsible for acts of nature. If a wind storm or hurricane DID actually blow the light pole over, it is on HER insurance company to fix it. If the pole was known as being defective, she would be compensated. If your neighbors tree falls on your house, they are not responsible unless it was known to be dead or dangerous. You have the right to trim any portion of their tree that overlaps your property in the air as well.

        • JustLurking says:

          If you look at the screen capture, there appears to be rust and some concrete deterioration, which might then make it Target’s problem. Might be the operative word for a jury of people who can get out of jury duty to decide.

          Or at least threaten to decide.

        • Difdi says:

          Getting struck by lightning is an act of nature/act of god. Getting struck by lightning because the property owner grounded the lightning rod into the toilet you’re sitting on is not (entirely) an act of nature/act of god.

          If the pole was already damaged and/or weakened through neglect and lack of maintenance, the woman may have a case.

        • ShadowFalls says:

          That may not be responsible for acts of nature, but they are responsible for faulty workmanship that contributed or negligence in upkeep. If I installed my own windmill and because I didn’t maintain it properly, it collapsed, I would be fault for damages it causes.

          Hit or miss here, going to be hard to prove her case in front of a judge, her being out in a dangerous environment would also be brought into question as well. I have seen storms with comparable wind speeds take a shopping cart and send it at speeds across the parking lot fast enough to seriously injury someone, if not kill them.

  2. Veeber says:

    So it’s not the hurricane’s fault if only one house is damaged in a neighborhood?

    • Bob Lu says:

      It actually makes sense.

      Doesn’t is mean there is something wrong on building/material if only one house is damaged in a neighborhood? (Assuming the whole neighborhood was built in similar quality, at similar time by the same developer.)

      • FatLynn says:

        No it doesn’t. There is no reason to think that the hurricane created the exact same conditions in every spot.

      • K-Bo says:

        not at all. winds can gust very strong in just one small area. hurricanes can spawn tornadoes, which often carve out areas of devastation just feet from areas that are untouched.

      • trey says:

        once in NC when on vacation we went through a small hurricane and the neighbors roof broke apart just enough to let rain in the house, and at the same time we had left towels on the handrails outside on the balcony. they were there when the hurricane was over. next door it damaged a roof but the wind didn’t even move the towels next door. all depends on how the wind is moving over a particular area and around certain structures.

        • K-Bo says:

          Exactly. I would go as far as to say hurricanes that cause the same amount of damage to every house in the neighborhood are more rare than ones that total 1-2 houses and barely touch the others (coming from someone who has lived through ~10 hurricanes.)

      • Gulliver says:

        Not even close. Having lived through hurricanes I can tell you that sometimes they are pinpoint on what they destroy. Only one house in a neighbor hood, maybe only one light pole. Physics also plays a part in how the configuration and closeness to the building could cause it as well. If the lower half of the pole was blocked from the direct wind, but the upper half was getting it full force, it would cause stress on the base. That stress could eventually snap the pole and you have a broken light pole.

        • Wombatish says:

          The bottom of the light pole is pretty clearly damaged in the pictures.

          Damaged enough to make a difference isn’t really something that we can tell from the pictures, but that’s kind of the whole point as to why this should be investigated.

          But really, I’m sure it’s just policy to deny deny deny and claim no fault and force them to force you to admit anything.

          Shitty, but not unexpected.

    • Shadowfax says:

      I don’t see the relevance of this claim, however.

      “We’re too cheap to insure against storm damage in a place that regularly gets storms up to and including hurricanes, and therefore we’re not liable for damages” is a false premise. If you didn’t get insurance for it, that’s your problem, not the customers. The money will have to come out of your pocket, rather than the insurance company’s.

      If I could disclaim liability for anything just by not buying insurance, I wouldn’t have insurance on my car.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        They probably have insurance against hurricanes, it just doesn’t cover liability for other people’s damages. If my tree is knocked over by a hurricane and lands on your house…your insurance pays for the damage the tree caused. Just because the tree belongs to me does not make me liable for a storm-act of nature/act of God causing it to fly away and cause damage. now if I leave construction material out side, without locking it down somehow, then we have liability issues.

        better yet, my roof flies of in a tornado or hurricane and lands on your house…my fault? no, your insurance covers it.

        I’m not saying that there is no liability at all on Target or whoever owns the parking lot and attached structures. if there was an issue with the light pole that was a known or expected problem (not up to codes or not maintained properly) then there may be liability on the owner of the light pole.

        • Shadowfax says:

          But that’s if your stuff lands on my property.

          If you invited me to your house, during a hurricane, and then your tree fell off and hit my car, parked on your driveway, I’m not 100% certain but I believe you’re on the hook.

          • MountainCop says:

            Correct. If you are on my property as an invited guest and a hurricane causes a tree to fall on your car, my homeowner’s liability policy takes care of it.

            Same scenario, but you’re parked on the street and a hurricane causes my tree to fall on your car – your insurance takes care of it.

            If you’re an uninvited guest in my house, your insurance and assets take care of the bullet removal hospital bills, ambulance transport and paramedic fees, court costs, legal fees, and I sue you or your estate for the clean up costs :)

    • Difdi says:

      It might not be the hurricane’s fault if the one house that gets damaged was made of cotton candy instead of 2x4s. Failure to build solidly and/or maintain property can result in liability for the property owner, even in an act of god situation. The question the court will ask is “Would a properly constructed and maintained structure have collapsed in 64mph winds?”

      If the answer is yes, then the property owner is not liable…if the answer is no, however, that’s liability right there folks.

  3. sp00nix says:

    Direct hit! You sunk my Nissan!

  4. DarrenO says:

    Act of God.. Call your insurance company.

    • tbax929 says:

      Correct; but without comp coverage, she’s screwed. I think it would be comp and not collision, but lots of folks, especially ones with older vehicles, don’t carry comp or collision.

      • Admiral_John says:

        Yes, it would be comprehensive and not collision that covers storm damage. Judging from the picture, it looks like a newer car so I would think she’d have both comprehensive and collision.

        Anyways, she should file the claim with her car insurance and let her insurance carrier go after Target to recoup the damages. She also might have better luck getting Target to pony up her deductible than the entire repair.

        • Sumtron5000 says:

          The vehicle is worth at least 10k (she said damages are 10k) which means she definitely took a big risk by not having comprehensive coverage. If she does in fact have comprehensive, then why is she expecting Target to pay for anything? All she needs to pay is her deductible, which is usually not more than $1,000.

    • econobiker says:

      Light pole was not maintained- bottom rusted out per the rust stains on the concrete base which she mentions. Target or the shopping center’s responsibility.

    • mythago says:

      “Act of God” is insurancecompanyese for “Maybe you’ll give up on that claim.”

    • Griking says:

      What if the car owner is an atheist?

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      PROVE the existence of God in court, then prove He was the one who pushed over the light pole.

      “ACT of GOD” clauses are such a cop-out.

  5. ShruggingGalt says:

    Was the light pole among those recalled?

    Photos showing damage AFTER the accident are kind of useless I believe, because how can you tell if the damage was there before the storm? Doesn’t she have to prove that there was obvious problems with the light pole before the storm and that Target didn’t do anything about it?

    Where is her insurance company in this mess?

    Windy does not equal what Hermine did through Central Texas. Several people died. And winds are not constant like you would think.

  6. DwightIsMyCopilot says:

    Oh, man. That’s my Target!

  7. Macgyver says:

    You can’t blame anyone, it was an act of nature. Accidents happens, and that all it was, no one is at fault.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      She’s still on Target’s property (unless the parking lot is considered public land – always a case by case basis) so Target is responsible for damage. It’s the same as when a quest in your home is damaged by something, like and icey walkway. The ice is an act of nature, but you are still liable.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Whoops, a guest. Not a Quest, such as Johnny or Benton.

      • mszabo says:

        Actually your usually not liable for that kind of thing. Massachusetts at least has long had a “natural accumulation” rule that gives blanket immunity for all slip and falls due to icy walkways. If the property owner didn’t cause the ice by say spraying water on his walkway, there is no liability. If the snow was put there by nature and you get hurt its your own fault for going out in the snow you live in a place that gets snow you should know how to deal with it. Good thing too as I had UPS attempt to deliver a letter to me while I was on vacation a 2 yrs ago and they fell in my icy driveway and tried to sue me.

        Recently there was a case that may limit this “natural accumulation” rule but Target may actually have zero liability here. Sucks for the OP but I can see how this may not be Target’s fault.

      • Pansy P says:

        Ice on a sidewalk is a maintenance issue. Hurricane winds are a legal “act of God.” The insurance company will go after Target to reimburse them for whatever they have to spend on the car. There’s a whole area of law devoted to that – subrogation.

      • sonneillon says:

        Depends. If the light pole did not meet manufacturers specifications on wind or maintenance schedule, then they may have been negligent. Right now the lady has pictures and target has it may have happened like this. Her story is more compelling. Take it up with the commissioner of insurance.

      • Robert Nagel says:

        When it comes to trees there is a different standard. I can clean my walk, I can’t guarantee a tree. Tree falls, everybody pays for their own damages.

    • Difdi says:

      Suppose you’re using a restroom at a store, and get struck by lightning because instead of following code and grounding a lightning rod down it’s own grounding path, the builder cut a corner and didn’t install a ground at all, and the direct path through the building intersects the toilet you’re sitting on.

      A lightning strike is an act of god, true. But getting struck in an interior room due to a building code violation is an act of contractor. You can sue contractors.

  8. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    I don’t like either side’s arguments here.

    Target is saying that it’s not their fault because of the hurricane. Sure, that may be the case, but you still ought to pay up because it happened on your property and it happened to your customer.

    The woman is asking why only one pole fell if the storm was so bad. Well, that’s simple: it happens. Sometimes an object just happens to be in the right spot at the right time. If there was deterioration, that’s a different problem altogether.

    Anyway, before the Consumeristas flame me: I still think Target should pay. So there.

    • FatLynn says:

      It happened on their property is now the standard of liability? So Target should pay the medical bills for the guy who has a heart attack in their store?

      • K-Bo says:

        I think it’s more it happened on their property and their property was involved (assuming they own the parking lot and by extension the light)

        • FatLynn says:

          I still don’t buy it. Let’s say the guy collapses of a heart attack, and hits his head on the floor. Now is Target responsible for his medical bills?

          • K-Bo says:

            It’s different, you expect if you fall from a heart attack, you will hit the floor. It has nothing to do with where you are or how it is maintained, you will hit the floor no matter where you are. Your illness started the chain of events. You don’t expect that if you park at a store and go in to shop, a light will fall on you.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Agreed, the “floor” injury was caused by his heart attack, not the other way around. Falling is the natural consequence of a heart attack, which was his action.

          • billybob9280 says:

            Bad analogy. A better one would be if a box fell off the shelf and hit the man, causing medical injuries. It’s not like she drove her car into the light pole.

            • ShruggingGalt says:

              So Target would be liable for injuries caused by falling merchandise during an earthquake? Because they should have secured the merchandise????

          • AustinTXProgrammer says:

            What if you are in the isle and a fat person runs their store provided cart into the shelves knocking it over onto you? I would think if the shelf weren’t anchored to the floor and Target provides carts to shoppers they would be liable.

            Granted wind pushing over a light pole isn’t the same as a cart. And this lady should have her own comprehensive insurance if she can’t afford to take a loss on her car (many things could happen). Most weather claims won’t even directly affect your rates, but go into regional rate calculations, at least in Texas.

        • Powerlurker says:

          Target almost certainly doesn’t own the parking lot, or even the building. They’re likely renting the location from a property management company.

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          but they didn’t knock over the pole and as I said before, if there was no problem with this pole they can’t be held liable for an act of nature/God.

      • Im Just Saying says:

        I agree with you in spirit, but “on your property” is the standard of liability. Neighbor kids use your trampoline without permission? Tree uproots and falls on the neigbhors house? Burglar cuts himself on kitchen knife while robbing you? These have all gone against the property owner.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Why is the hurricane Target’s fault though? My company is going through something right now because someone slipped in a puddle of water during Hermine outside the store.

      So how is that our fault??? And no, we didn’t throw the person out of the store like Starbucks did.

    • tbax929 says:

      No flaming coming from me, but you’re dead wrong. It’s an Act of God. If she had full coverage, she could claim it under her own insurance. Short of that, the only person to sue is God, and I’m pretty sure that would be a tall order!

      • madanthony says:

        What if she’s an atheist and doesn’t believe in acts of God?

        • Xeos says:

          Cities and States have regulations and codes regarding wind shear and wind tolerances for everything. It’s usually higher than 64mph. If that is the case, then the property/target are to blame for inadequate light fixtures.

        • do-it-myself says:

          +∞

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        I don’t think anyone should sue. I think Target should do it as a goodwill gesture. It would just make for good PR, and will probably pay dividends in the long-run.

        “Look at us! We’re kind and helped this poor lady when a light fell on her car! We love everyone, forget the whole indirectly donating to an anti-gay politician thing plzkthx?”

    • dadelus says:

      Also, the parking lot is most likely not Targets property. I used to work for Target and the parking lot at our store was owned and maintained by the commercial development company that owned the strip mall the store was in.

  9. JohnnyP says:

    I assume that Target even owns the property? If they don’t the insurance probably only covers things that happen in the store.
    Otherwise does Target not have hurricane insurance?
    And would she have been happy if all of the poles fell?

    • Jack Handy Manny says:

      Hurricane insurance covers damage to property that you own done by a hurricane. This is just like a tree branch falling and hitting a car or a house. It’s not the tree owners fault, it’s the car or homeownrs responsibility to carry the proper insurance on their poseesions.

      If a car is picked up by strong winds and tossed into someones house, the car owners auto insurance will not pay for the damages. It’s the homeowner’s insurance that will cover it.

    • Hobz says:

      You make a very good point. The Target I shop at it part of a shopping complex owned by a development company. Target may not even own the pole.

  10. FatLynn says:

    I agree that this sucks, but I really don’t see how it would be Target’s fault.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      I think if Target is open for business they are making a claim that their parking lot is safe as well as the building. If the light poles they erected can’t stand up to those winds, they should have been closed.

    • Shadowfax says:

      It doesn’t matter if it’s Target’s fault or not. Assuming they own the parking lot (which they very well may not) then it’s their light pole that hit her car. They’re responsible. If they don’t own the parking lot, then in order to avoid negative publicity they should be putting a lot of pressure on whoever does to pay up.

      If a tree in my yard loses a branch and whacks your car, I (or my insurance) have to pay you for that, even though since I didn’t actively break the branch it’s not my fault.

      • kc2idf says:

        Storm damage is a strange thing, actually.

        My neighbour had a tree that fell in my yard as a result of a storm. It destroyed two sections of my fence, my tool shed, and damaged my lawn mower.

        Their insurance didn’t pay for it, mine did. I suspect my insurance may have later gone after theirs for compensation, but their insurer wouldn’t even talk to me, except to say that they wouldn’t even talk to me.

        • K-Bo says:

          With fallen trees it is always the responsibility of the person whose yard it fell in to clean it up (at least in NC) my parents did the research, because they knew a neighbors tree was going to fall eventually. What they found out was they could do nothing to make him go ahead and take care of the dead tree, and once it hit their yard, they had to deal with it. They were kinda pissed, if they had to deal with the aftermath (including if it hit the house) they felt like there should be some kind of way to make him cut down the dead tree.

          • kc2idf says:

            Ah, that really sucks.

            At least in this case, it was a healthy tree to begin with, and therefore it was reasonably unforseeable.

            Some good came of it, though . . . I got to know our neighbours a bit better. They were very apologetic, and happy to help out with the cleanup effort. The insurance company paid out enough to get the shed replaced, and I fixed the mower and fence. We split the pile of mulch that we made from the fallen branches, and everyone was more or less happy.

      • Jack Handy Manny says:

        Your insurance will in no way pay for your tree branch hitting the property of another. The other party’s comprehinsive coverage will pay for the damage to a car and the other party’s homeowner insurance will pay for damage to the home.

        • AnonymousCoward says:

          Actually, my insurance will pay for my tree branch hitting my neighbor’s property, if I was negligent in some way in taking care of the tree. For example, if the tree needed trimming and I didn’t trim it, then the tree falls over, then my liability insurance pays. This actually happened to me. My tree fell over and damaged the neighbor’s house, but I wasn’t negligent, because there were no signs of trouble beforehand. My insurance paid for damage to my property, and my neighbor’s insurance paid for damage to her property.

          So this is exactly what the woman is up against. She’s trying to say that the light pole was defective in some way, and that’s why it fell. Whether she can prove this or not can’t be determined from the article. Anyway, assuming she has comprehensive, her best bet is to file a claim against her own insurance, and let the insurance companies fight it out.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        no you don’t. If the tree had no known problems and you kept it trimmed and a storm or lightning or what ever (other than you) knocks it over, it is not your fault and their insurance would have to pay.

        There should be some insurance adjusters or something on the consumerist that can back this up. No agents though, not saying anything bad about them but they don’t always know about liability issues and coverages.

        • tbax929 says:

          I’ve been an insurance agent for over a decade. I know of no policy that would pay out in this situation.

          It doesn’t matter who owns the parking lot – for the 20th time. If the OP can’t prove there was a pre-existing problem with that light pole, it’s not Target’s (or whoever it is that owns the lot) responsibility to pay. This is really Insurance 101, and I’m surprised at how many folks don’t understand this very basic concept.

    • onbehalfofthebunnies says:

      I agree, it’s not the fault of Target, and just about every store you go to these days has a sign outside stating they are not responsible for any damage or theft to/from/of your car which protects them if someone bashes their car or cart into yours, just as in this case the light did. Yes it sucks, but that’s why you have car insurance.

      • buckeyegoose says:

        Signs don’t disclaim liability, I could post a sign saying I’m not responsible for you being shot if you walk onto my shooting range, still wont stop someone from suing me.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Others have mirrored this thought: liability is determined by who’s property is involved, not by intentionally fault. So if Target owes the parking lot, it is their property and thus their liability for damage. If the parking lot is not owed by Target – be it considered city property or land leased by Target from another land owner – then the woman needs to demand payment from that entity.

      You may not disagree, and it’s certainly a common point of contention, but it’s the current standard of law.

      • Gulliver says:

        Whether Target owns the light pole or not does not matter, unless there was a known defect on it. Acts of nature are on the damaged persons insurance. There is not standard of care against hurricanes required. If Target were installing the light pole, and the installer dropped it on the car, there would be a standard of care to put up the light pole without crushing cars. THEN Target, the shopping center owner and the light pole company would all be jointly and severally liable

  11. dolemite says:

    I’m with her….if the winds did it, why weren’t more poles down? I’m sure the storm caused the pole to fall, but if it wasn’t in a state of disrepair, it probably wouldn’t have. I can’t cut halfway through a tree branch over my neighbor’s car, then when it snaps during a storm, say “Act of God! Act of God!”

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      1. Become God
      2. Saw off branch over neighbor’s car
      3. ???
      4. Profit via Act of God

  12. sirwired says:

    That insurance company is full of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the “fault” of the high winds or not. Target’s light pole fell on the car. Period. End of Story. It doesn’t matter if the hand of God himself came down and smote the pole upon the car. It’s Target’s light pole, it’s her car. They owe.

    If a tree on my property crushes my neighbor’s roof, I’m going to have to pay (or rather, my insurance is going to pay)… same deal here.

    • Sparkle Motion says:

      Actually — this happened to me last year. My tree. Neighbour’s garage.

      As it was an act of god, and my property wasn’t damaged, my insurance company wouldn’t touch it. My Neighbour’s insurance company covered all the damage.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/84374474@N00/3767826244/in/photostream/

    • tbax929 says:

      I want to live next to you…since you’d take the blame for such a thing.

      Just so you know, in your example you would only be liable if your neighbor could prove that you knew the tree was in damaged condition. Storms knock down trees (and light poles) all the time. The owner of the property is not responsible for acts of God.

      Accepting liability in your example would be a neighborly thing to do, but it’s not your legal responsibility. And, by the way, your insurance wouldn’t cover for it, either.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Not all the time. It depends on the condition of the tree. Something about acts of God and what not. Trees fall. The biggest problem is that you can have 100 experts come out and say a tree probably won’t fall and it still could.

    • Gulliver says:

      If you did you would be foolish. You are only responsible IF you knew the tree were dead or posed a danger. Please go back and get a law degree before discussing things you know nothing about,.

  13. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I think these types of awful events fall under “Acts of God”.

    If I were out $10,000, I’d pay to have a professional come out and evaluate the light pole that failed. It’s possible that the pole was recalled, improperly installed, not maintained, etc.

    • kayl says:

      An engineer may cost you $2000-$3000 easy.

      I’m an adjuster and if I had this claim (on target’s behalf), I’d likely deny it as well. From the information presented, I see no negligence on the part of Target. The lady should go through her own insurance and let them try to subrogate.

    • bwcbwc says:

      Actually, if she’s got comprehensive insurance it should be her insurance company that foots the bill. Then if her insurer wants to go after Target (or the landowner) for liability, it’s their call. She should have filed a claim with her insurance.

      Unless comprehensive insurance in TX has a weather/hurricane exclusion. Which it could.

  14. julia says:

    if the weather was so dangerous that light poles were falling over because of it, what was the store doing open in the first place, sending out the siren song of consumerism to the masses. Don’t they know these people can’t resist buying Christmas paraphernalia during a hurricane!?!?!

    Yea, it sucks to be them, sure they have a claim that it was an act of God, but as John Stewart says “Be a F#@%ing Person” and pay up.

    • Gulliver says:

      Target didn’t do anything wrong, why should they Be a fucking person about something that does not involve them. What if she were at Target and a cow were picked up by a tornado and smashed her car. Would you blame Target? Acts of nature happen. It is a reason for somebody who has a car worth more than $10k to carry comprehensive insurance. She would kick out the deductible and have her car fixed. If the car is not worth $10k, she would have it totaled and be reimbursed minus the deductible.
      When bad shit happens, looking to blame somebody is not the answer. Shit happens in the world. Take responsibility for your life. Target did nothing wrong through any point off this. Deep pockets do not make it so.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        Bad analogy, the parking lot owner does not have to maintain neighboring cows.

        • Gulliver says:

          Yes they do. The owner of property (cow) MUST maintain it. By the way, rust on a light pole does not constitute structurally unsound. Go look at any bridge in the USA and they all have rust in them. If there was corrosion that is something different. If she wants to hire an expert to say the pole was structurally unsound she can attempt that. I doubt it will go anywhere, but people can sure for anything they want to. Of course if she put on her big girl panties and learned that just because something bad happpens to her, does not mean somebody else is at fault. Shit happens.

    • Gulliver says:

      I could ask why the woman was out in over 60 MPH winds at Target instead of home? Oh thats right, she wants to stock up on shit in case the power is out for several days or weeks. Maybe you know nothing about hurricanes, but I know of restaurants that stayed open during one, and ended up being one of the few places that had power in the aftermath. That allowed people to have a place to eat AND get in AC. What a horrible thing for businesses to serve those people. I guess life should stop during a hurricane. Maybe all businesses should close when weather is threatening. A lightening storm, a tornado, snow storms, blame the business. How about the OP could have stayed home and not had a problem at all.

      • Julia says:

        really, the get no warning of hurricanes and only stock up once they start? Cause up where I am, I watch the daily weather, and I’m told when it is hurricane season, and when a tropical storm shows up, and when it turns into a hurricane, and where it might possibly go and I don’t live in an area where hurricanes might hit more then once a decade.

        Personally I have to deal with snow storms quite regularly, generally the same months of the year, generally every single year, so come about that time I stock up on what I need if the worst should happen. When the guy on the tv tells me that one is coming, I might look and see if I’m running low on things I want (not need, cause those I’ve stocked up on) and I go and get them long before the worst of things start.

    • ablestmage says:

      You obviously don’t live in Texas.

      No one seems to bother with the fact that “the company that handles Target’s claims” sent the rejection notice, not Target itself.

      I would say that Target has an equal right to claim that her car improperly cushioned the fall of the light pole, so she owes them cost of replacing it. That’s pretty much the identical claim.

  15. AllanG54 says:

    I have no doubt the pole came down due to winds. Hell, some trees fall, others don’t. But first, Target has to be the owner of the lot which they may not be. Second, if she has comp insurance she should put the claim through that. Her rates will not go up. And third, depending on Target’s policy, there may be some kind of windstorm deductible or exclusion but this is a liability claim, not a property claim and there usually aren’t those kinds of exclusions on that portion of a policy. So, I figure she may end up needing to sue on this.

    • shepd says:

      Her rates may not go up this time. Insurance companies monitor for multiple not at fault incidents, or not at fault liability claims, or anything else similar. They will eventually raise rates when they feel there is a problem. Taking the hit on this means she is one step closer to having her rates raised.

      Why should she be the one with the problem? This is someone else’s property damaging her car, which was parked at the behest of the land owner. The only things left to prove are the owner of the land and light stand (and therefore who must pay), and if there is enough evidence to prove criminal negligence to up the value of the lawsuit. Since the light stand the the land aren’t owned by this person, she shouldn’t take any hit on anything.

  16. Esquire99 says:

    Screw the insurance company. They don’t get the “last say” by any stretch of the imagination. Just sue the store directly for the damages. The insurance company may intervene in the suit, but the fact the insurance company unilaterally decided that Target wasn’t liable doesn’t mean anything. It’s amazing that people give liability insurance companies so much power, in that they take their decisions as the word of god.

    • tbax929 says:

      I agree with you that people shouldn’t be afraid to sue just because an insurance company declines a claim. However, Target’s insruance is correct. It’s an act of God, and Target is in no way responsible for that, unless OP can prove they knew that pole was already damaged and more susceptible to fall over in a storm. She’s out of luck.

      • Commenter24 says:

        I’m not so sure. I think that she could argue that the light pole wasn’t built to withstand a reasonable storm, etc. My point is that there are avenues other than having to show that it was already damaged.

        • tbax929 says:

          I’m not sure how she’d be able to prove that.

          I do, however, agree with your point about not just letting the insurance company decide this.

    • webweazel says:

      A relative’s car was hit in a parking lot by another car. Minor damage but in a nasty spot. The insurance company of the other person called her and said that they weren’t going to pay because the accident was caused by an “act of god”. He basically alluded to the fact that it was ‘divine intervention” that she was in the parking lot at the exact place and time to be hit by their customer. (He must have tried this bullshit before and it must have worked.) But this guy tried it on the WRONG person. She chewed him up and spit him out into a furry, juicy, squirming mass of molten flesh on the other end of the phone line. By the end of the conversation, he was using a whole lot of snappy military-style “yes ma’am” and “no, ma’am” and “We’ll have a check out to you immediately, ma’am.”
      They always try this crap first to hopefully make you go away.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Wait, so his argument was that God controls all actions in the world, and therefore God intended for this person to hit their car into your relative’s car? Hence, an Act of God?

        That’s ballsy.

        • dolemite says:

          By that logic, anything that happens anywhere is an act of God, and they aren’t responsible for anything. Cancer, car crash, drunk driving…all His fault.

        • webweazel says:

          The idiot also said that this accident never would have happened if she had just stayed home that day. That was the “divine intervention” that made her leave the house and position her car in the exact position at the exact time for the other person to be “able” to hit her car.
          Nice try.
          But again, if it hadn’t worked for them before, they wouldn’t keep on trying it.

  17. Blackadar says:

    64 MPH isn’t hurricane strength…just sayin’. :)

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      I was thinking that too, starts at 70. but there may have been gusts up to 70 or more. I’ve been through several hurricanes and it doesn’t just blow at a steady rate, that is why when they talk about the wind speed they say “sustained winds” meaning that it hasn’t gone below that speed for some time or for long enough to count.

  18. wolf3345us says:

    The word “smote” keeps coming to mind.

  19. Rocket80 says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, considering I’ve never had to make an insurance claim, but wouldn’t my own insurance pay to get this fixed? and if they felt Target was at fault they’d go after Target themselves?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      If you just have liability coverage, then you’d be pretty much on your own.

    • 451.6 says:

      Also, your insurance company will very likely go up on your premiums so you’ll be out of more money over the long haul. And sometimes, even if an accident isn’t your fault, they’ll go up any way.

  20. The Porkchop Express says:

    Hate to say it, but…. When you get your car insurance, always get comprehensive and collision coverage. They give you the money and then fight this battle

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Not when the car is worth

      According to Edmunds.com, my girlfriend’s car is worth about $175. Should she get comprehensive coverage? No.

      You can argue that the cost of getting a new car is worth it, but you’d only get what your car is worth in payment from your insurance, not what your car is worth to you.

  21. caknuck says:

    I’m seeing a glaring omission in the news stories and the comments: What about this woman’s car insurance policy? If she owes $10K on her car, then she would be required to carry collision & comprehensive policy on the car by the lender. A comp policy should cover the damage (minus the deductible).

    • jvanbrecht says:

      The story actually states a $10k repair bill, not is what is still owed on the car.

    • tbax929 says:

      You’d only be required to carry comp/collision on a vehicle if there’s a loan on it. If the car is paid off, it doesn’t matter what the value of it is.

      It’s not good practice to not carry full coverage on a vehicle that’s worth more than a few thousand bucks (because stuff like this can happen and you’re SOL), but there’s no law that I know of that requires it.

    • ablestmage says:

      The $10k owed is for the repair bill, not for the purchase price for the car.

  22. Matzoball says:

    I assume Target gets hit with an untold amount of frivalous law suits every year. From scammers and from people who are victims of their own stupidity. However I believe that it would be presumptious to think that Tropical Storm Hermine is likely to blow over a cemented light pole. And as a consumer I should be aware of that fact and therefore park my car out of falling distance from this light fixture.

    What is more likely the case is Target either outsources their liability calims or keeps it in house and the managers in charge are incentivised to keep things within budget. So as is common in the insurance industry the claim is denied forcing the indivdual to appeal the decision. If it is outsourced it is great because Target can come to the rescue of the consumer and say it wasn’t us it was them. If it is inhouse we can look at this as a training opportunity.

    I am assuming we have the full story and there are not other mitigating facts.

    Target is not a terrible institution in my humble opinion and I have had customer service issues with them over the years. I believe in making a buck but I believe the approach they are taking while profitable is shameful. If all these facts are true I would be embarassed to work in the insurance department of Target and management that can not recognize when it is appropriate to take a hard line when a softer line is the wiser course of action is generally what leads to negative exposure for these large entities.

    I hope someone at Target takes a closer look at this and if the calim is denied comes up with a better explanation than this only occurred due to Tropical Storm Hermine. I wonder how many other cemented structures were blown over in what amounts to high winds but not hurricane force winds. I am pretty sure after Katrina it was the steel and concrete structures that suffered the least damage.

    • ablestmage says:

      I don’t think the pole itself is cemented, only bolted to a cement block. The cement seems only there to prevent people from ramming the pole.

      Also, the article itself says “the company that handles Target’s claims that the company wasn’t responsible” not Target directly. Which company that the second “the company” in that quote means, isn’t particularly clear.

      Also, the woman is not necessarily out $10k, that’s just the repair bill (presumably just an estimate if she’s smart). You can get a perfectly operational car with low miles used for under $1500 bluebook value.

      Also, (an aside) I’m not sure why the fact that she’s pregnant is an issue worth mentioning. That’s generally a condition one personally afflicts themselves with. By suggesting her pregnancy would be a reason to be lenient would be like saying, “I cut myself and routinely need to visit the doctor for those injuries. A $10k debt is going to put strain on my finances because of my medical bills.”

  23. Jack Handy Manny says:

    That’s how insurance works…..and quit saying “act of god”. She would need to show that Target was liable for the pole falling over. Good luck with that. Add comprehensive to your policy, it’s cheap and covers you if something smashes your car.

  24. nakkypoo says:

    I think she would have to prove that not only was the pole faulty, but also that Target knew about it and ignored it. I believe it’s an insurmountable burden of proof for her.

    Why isn’t she claiming against her own auto insurance? My guess is because they won’t cover this “act of god” just like Target’s insurance company won’t cover it.

    Yes, it sucks. But sometimes there just isn’t anyone to blame and you have to deal with the costs and consequences of living in a place with unpredictable weather yourself.

    • jvanbrecht says:

      She probably does not have comprehensive insurance. If she did.. they would cover the damage regardless, minus her deductable.

      • nakkypoo says:

        Maybe, maybe not. I lived a short time in South Carolina and had collision + comprehensive, but hail damage was specifically excluded from my policy. I would have had to pay extra for that. She may have comprehensive but wind and/or tropical storm damage is not included.

    • Commenter24 says:

      What about Res Ipsa Loquitor? Couldn’t she show that a light pole shouldn’t blow over in 64mph winds absent some sort of negligence?

      • Black Bellamy says:

        She wouldn’t be able to prove it was only 64mph winds. She could only prove it was 64mph at the particular wind sensor, which probably was nowhere near Target.

        • Billy says:

          Why would Target dispute the fact that there were high winds there? I would think they would stipulate to it.

          Here’s why: if the woman doesn’t establish that there was high winds, then the light pole fell over solely b/c it was deteriorating. Target, or whoever is supposed to maintain the poles, would be on the hook for failure to maintain the poles. It’s in Target’s best interest to establish that the winds were so extraordinarily high that no amount of care would have kept the poles up. It’s their defense (that an the winds were an intervening factor in the fall).

    • Billy says:

      She wouldn’t need to demonstrate that Target knew about it and ignored it. If we’re talking negligence, she would need to demonstrate that Target had a duty to maintain the light poles, that they breached that duty, and that it was the factual and proximate cause of the damage. Intentional ignorance is not needed. Target (or whoever is supposed to maintain the parking lot) would, presumably know what’s going on with their poles.

      See Torts 101 for more info.

  25. StevePierce says:

    How is this Target’s fault. They don’t own the building nor parking lot, they lease it. So if she is angry with anyone, the property owner is who you she should contacting not Target.

    Except, newsflash, it was a freaking hurricane/tropical storm. That is why you have insurance.

    Be thankful no one was hurt, call your insurance company, file a claim and quit whining. If she doesn’t have insurance, she chose poorly. Maybe she should have passed up on the $200 nail job.

    – Steve

  26. humphrmi says:

    My insurance company is great about this stuff. Anything happens, I call them. They pay me, then go after the other party. If it’s the other party’s fault, their large team of ankle-biting chihuahua lawyers puts the other party strait, recovers the money, and I don’t get dinged for the accident.

  27. Scuba Steve says:

    The insurance won’t pay out. She’d have to take it to court, and in most cases like these they’d probably find 50% fault to target and 50% fault to the hurricane. That’s if they were smart enough to realize that the lamp was faulty and not just unlucky.

    It’d be a tough sell regardless. Does the car owner only have liability on the car?

  28. Tim says:

    It probably depends on whether she can prove that, basically, the pole fell because of something Target did (or Target was negligent, or something). So perhaps if the pole was installed wrong, or the base was rusty, or a bolt was missing or something. If she gets a good enough lawyer, she might be able to prove it.

    If not, it’s the hurricane’s fault, and not something Target could have prevented.

  29. jiarby says:

    “act of god” = out for insurance company. Target was not negligent… a Hurricane came by.

    God says “Gotchya!”
    Car Owner says ‘DOH!’
    Target says “Bummer!”
    Insurance Co makes evil laugh.
    Car Owner files claim with own insurance and learns about subrogation

  30. denali says:

    Sounds like Target’s insurance had a force majeure clause and they’re simply seeing this as an “Act of God”. Take the pictures you have of the other light poles and see if an attorney finds them useful.

  31. GenXCub says:

    People, people PEOPLE…

    We’re forgetting one big thing here.

    The car was dressed provocatively and got what it deserved. It was asking for it.

  32. nonzenze says:

    Legally speaking, since a hurricane is legally considered an unforeseeable ‘act of god’ (legally, if not theologically for the more skeptically inclined) Target is not liable unless she can show that they failed to exercise a duty of reasonable care, which is a very low standard (c.f. strict liability). To prevail, she would have to show that no reasonable person would have thought that Target’s actions were prudent under the circumstances.

    TLDR: Her tort case against Target is as dead as her car.

    • Commenter24 says:

      See my other post re: Res Ipsa. I’m not light pole expert, but I have a hard time believing that a “reasonable person” would not expect a light pole to withstand 64mph winds. 64mph isn’t that strong. A light pole that should withstand 64mph winds shouldn’t fall over in such winds absent some sort of negligence. That’s where Res Ipsa comes into play.

  33. alternety says:

    There was a large recall of certain light poles. As I recollect they had a defect allowing corrosion at the base which had the annoying result of them falling down.

    Search for it. It might help if it is one of these. Negligence in not replacing, etc.

  34. alternety says:

    There was a large recall of certain light poles. As I recollect they had a defect allowing corrosion at the base which had the annoying result of them falling down.

    Search for it. It might help if it is one of these. Negligence in not replacing, etc.

  35. MadameX says:

    No way Target is liable. This is what you have car insurance for.

  36. benk1342 says:

    She should file a claim with her own insurance. If her insurnace company thinks Target is responsible, they will sue Target. It’s what they do—they’re pros at it.

  37. davein805 says:

    Target probably tiers it’s insurance in two or three tranches. It self-insures or captivates the first X million in loss and then insures or reinsures the second/third tranche. The story doesn’t say whether this Target is owned or leased. This would determine who is primary and secondary for claim purposes. The difficulty with the light post absent proven negligence is that force majeure is a legitimate defense. The shopper was smart to photograph the fallen post with deterioration given all of the others remain standing. If the shopper’s car insurance company is covering the claim, let the insurance company pay the claim and subrogate it against Target. If the personal insurance is not going to cover the claim and Texas’ small claims court allows $10K or less cases, she should sue Target. Target will probably settle the claim because the cost of defending the suit is less than cost of payout over time. Also, Target should check the other light posts. Glad shopper wasn’t hurt.

  38. teke367 says:

    The storm shouldn’t matter. If the winds were over 64mph, perhaps if Target has poor insurance, they wouldn’t be able to make a claim for the pole, but the pole hitting a customer’s car would be a liability issue. Target is liable, and their insurance should pay it. If Target doesn’t pay, the woman should sue. If the insurance company doesn’t cover Target, then Target should sue the insurance company.

    It’s dumb things like this that get insurance companies get into trouble. What should only cost $10,000 could end up costing millions because a company is denying claims they have no right to.

    Now, I’m assuming there wasn’t a state of emergency, since the store was open. If it was, there may be some legal stuff there. Also, I’m assuming Target is the property owner, if they are just leasing, then the payment should be handled by whoever owns the property.

    Also, how the heck is that car fixable in the first place? I’m impressed they didn’t just say it’s totaled and move on.

  39. Bye says:

    I think it’s clear from the rust stains at the base of the light pole that this was an Act of DOG.

  40. Anton_Jackson says:

    She should file a claim with her insurance. Then let their trained attack lawyers go after the parking lot’s( Target’s) lawyers. As to the liability there — thats an interesting question. Its my guess that this is indeed something that should stick to the lot owner, as this is damage inflicted by their property.

    However, alot depends upon the specific TX state law covering the incident. I am not clear as to how TX handles “act of God” type claims, and the condition of the lamp/ lamp base would make a big difference in apportioning liability.

    OTOH her assertion that since only this lamp fell its an issue with the lamp is flawed. It is a sign that there may be matters needing to be looked into regarding the base’s condition, but high winds and weather can do some very freaky things.

  41. Mr.Grieves says:

    That car is so not worth 10,000 dollars.

  42. DanKelley98 says:

    Issue for her insurance company to deal with. End of case. Unless she doesn’t have an insurance company.

  43. Xeos says:

    Cities and States have regulations and codes regarding wind shear and wind tolerances for everything. It’s usually higher than 64mph. If that is the case, then the property/target are to blame for inadequate light fixtures.

    • Gulliver says:

      We need citations for your claims, and also proof that it was 64 MPH at the time of the pole falling. Sustained winds versus gusts or exact location are what matter. Show us all the city, state or federal code which says Target was outside their tolerance on this sort of thing. By the way, I would bet my left testicle that Target or the landlord CAN show through their site plans and maintenance schedule how much the light pole could withstand.
      Finally, this Target is in a strip mall NOT OWNED by Target. Why would Target under any circumstances be responsible for what happens there. What if she parked there but walked to a Pet Smart store 3 stores down. Is Pet Smart responsible? The parking lot is for customers of the strip mall, which is owned by a third party.

  44. desterion says:

    Yet another reason to actually shop at Wal-Mart instead.

  45. d0x360 says:

    I agree with Target that its really not their fault but they should pay the repair bill anyways as an act of goodwill to a customer. They have insurance for these things. Im sure when all is said and done they will in fact pay but i cant blame for them saying no up front. Its not like they called the wind on the phone and said **** up this car

  46. AndroidHumanoid says:

    This is right next to my apartment on Highway 281 and Bitters Rd. How embarrassing. That storm was ruthless, I dont know why anyone was even out and about that day!!!

  47. tinyhands says:

    The insurer has a responsibility to refute all claims against the insuree. But that doesn’t mean that they’re right. A judge will eventually sort this out.

  48. yulingo says:

    Lesson learned: When in Texas during hurricane season, do not park within the falling radius of light poles…

  49. ArmitageShanks says:

    A 64-mph wind should not blow over a light pole. If I were here, I would park my car in the closest spot to the Target entrance, with a big sign in the window that says something like:

    “A lightpole in this parking lot fell on my car, and Target won’t take responsibility.”

    I would also make fliers with the photos and put them on every customer’s car in the parking lot. Until Target security kicks you off the property…

  50. unimus says:

    Start a tailgate party on the same spot. Whoever threatens you to call the police for trespassing are the same people that’s liable.

  51. 108Reliant says:

    “We handle each claim on a case by case basis and are unable to provide additional information on specific incidents.”

    How many accidents like this or similar happen at Target anyways?

  52. wild7s says:

    That’s the bitch about ‘park at own risk’, the blanket agreement you agreed upon by using their lot. Just let your insurance company handle it. And stop feigning ignorance. Ignorance does not get you far, in life.

  53. Alessar says:

    Isn’t this something the owner’s comprehensive coverage would cover? That’s what covers random windows being broken, vandalism, hail, tree branches, and theft. It’s just STUPID to not have that coverage on any car that’s not a junker as it’s quite cheap compared to the collision part of the insurance.