HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Imagine this: Someone steals a car, leads police on a chase, and then crashes on your property. The car hits and destroys your $5,000 heating and air conditioning unit. The man behind the wheel runs and is never found. You are left to foot the bill.
It happened to one man in Huntsville. Jimmy Jones was forced to spend $5,000 for a new unit.
"I had no plans on spending my money for (the new unit)," said Jones.
The money -- his tax return -- was intended to take care of his grandkids - one of whom was too close for comfort when the accident happened.
"If the car would have hit that window, it definitely would have hit her," said Jones. "I thank God that it didn't hit her."
Still, Jones, who struggles with a fixed income already, is out $5,000. His insurance will reimburse him, but a deductible of $500 will be harder to get back.
A representative with State Farm said the criminal behind the wheel would have to first be found and identified, then be contacted by Jones' insurance company, and finally, have the money or insurance coverage himself to pay it back.
Jones said he is frustrated and disappointed. He worries the money, intended for his grandkids, may never be returned.
"I'm here at home being safe, taking care of my kids, trying to do what is right for them," said Jones. "And I come up with a big, unexpected bill that I have no way of paying."
If the man is found, Jones has the option of taking him to small claims court. However, Jones would be forced to pay court costs himself.
Another unfortunate reality: Jones' monthly insurance rate will likely go up because he was forced to make a claim in the first place.
The only option that would not cost Jones money is applying for money from the Office for Victims of Crime. There is no guarantee he would receive assistance, but it is possible.