Out of pocket after car smash fees

Karen Cruickshanks with the letter she received. Picture by FPA

Karen Cruickshanks with the letter she received. Picture by FPA

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A Kennoway woman has issued a warning to other drivers who have been involved in an accident after she was left unable to pay a hefty recovery bill.

Karen Cruickshanks was involved in a head-on collision with a telegraph pole on April 1 as she drove to her work at Newburgh Primary School.

I feel the public need to be made aware if they have an accident that they should organise their own recovery.

Karen Cruickshanks

After the police and an ambulance were called, she was taken to Ninewells Hospital for treatment and told her car was a write-off.

“Even when people were stopping to see if I was OK, I was saying ‘I need to sort everything with the car’,” said Mrs Cruickshanks.

“When the police said it was a write-off and said they would contact my husband, I thought that he would get to sort it.”

Mrs Cruickshanks believed she could organise for her own breakdown and recovery company to collect her vehicle.

However, due to an on-going police recovery contract with Methil firm Ace Recovery, Mrs Cruickshanks’ car was picked up less than an hour after the incident.

It wasn’t until a letter arrived the next day that she found out she would have to pay for the uplift, at a price of £150, storage costs of £20 per day and additional fees of £66.

She was told she had just seven days to pay the bill, or the police would scrap her car. Due to only being covered by third party fire and theft, she was unable to claim on her insurance.

“I phoned to tell them I couldn’t pay it, but they just said we had to, or we couldn’t get it back or get any belongings from inside it. These are astronomical charges.

“I feel the public need to be made aware if they have an accident that they should organise their own recovery.

“I have cover with Green Flag, and they said they would have recovered my car, but I wasn’t given the option.”

Sergeant Derek Allan of Fife’s Road Policing Unit told the Mail that it is standard procedure for police to organise recovery through a partner agency when the driver is unable to specify their preference or if the car cannot be recovered in a reasonable timeframe. He noted that police had a duty of care to the vehicle owner, and a responsibilty to ensure minimal disruption to the public. He added: “Once removed from the scene, the vehicle is retained in the agent’s premises until the owner can recover it. The driver’s insurance company typically pays costs incurred for recovery and retention of the vehicle. If the driver has no insurance, or is covered third party, the driver is liable for costs.”