Army Vet sues Austin Energy over car accident

A lawsuit has been filed against Austin energy. This after an Army veteran says the Austin power provider failed to take responsibility for a car accident he says they caused. Not only was his car totaled, he and his wife say they were both injured. 

After serving 12 years in the Army, Jerry Montez says he didn't think he would be facing another battle, this time with Austin Energy.

"My wife and I were looking at each other saying, 'what's going on? He's going to hit us.' I thought he was going to stop but he never stopped. He just crushed us like we were inside of a compact," says Jerry Montez, car accident victim.

On September 18, Jerry and his wife Mary were in their truck on Woodward Street preparing to turn right on St. Elmo. They were stopped at a red light.

"City of Austin truck was towing a large trailer. They were on St. Elmo Street trying to take a left turn onto Woodward. As they were making that left turn, the driver cut the turn too short and ended up striking our client's vehicle. It had such force that it pushed our client's vehicle backwards, into the vehicle behind him," says Bradford Bonilla, attorney, Bonilla Law Firm.

These are pictures right after the accident happened. We're told the car was totaled.

"He admitted that it was his fault, that he didn't look back. It was a young guy though. Apparently he didn't have enough training to ride the vehicle," says Montez.

Since that day, Jerry says it's been an uphill battle with Austin Energy. As a result, he had to hire attorney Bradford Bonilla. A formal claims notice was sent to the City of Austin. The investigation then shifted directly to Austin Energy.

"Our client went to the doctor within days of the collision. You know, this isn't something that pops up weeks down the road. He felt immediate pain, he just didn't feel the urgency to jump in the back of the ambulance and ride to the hospital," says Bonilla.

Jerry says an MRI was taken, showing a tear in his shoulder.
He was told surgery is the only fix.

"When I got a hold of the steering wheel, they hit me and I kind of braced myself. It kind of messed it up," says Montez.

On October 19th, an email from the Austin Energy Claims Department was sent to the Bonilla Law Firm:
It continues to be our position that your clients were not injured by virtue of the fact that 1) they said they weren't injured to both of our employees 2) they told the police they weren't injured 3) photos clearly show that they aren't injured as a result of this non-moving traffic incident, and 4) your clients were pulled over the lines.

That was followed-up by a formal letter the next day.

"I think Austin Energy takes this position knowing that anyone who decides to pursue litigation against them, is going to face an uphill battle and is going to have to go through the ringer," says Bonilla.

In regards to the Austin Energy vehicle, the police report says quote:
"It was evident that the driver of unit 1, clearly did not safely maneuver the trailer around the stopped motorists."

Jerry is upset about the whole situation.
He says he even had to file his truck's property damage coverage through his own insurance because the power provider wouldn't jump into action.

"I'm hoping to get justice right. Get some justice; make them pay for what they did. I was an innocent bystander there. I didn't do anything. I was just standing there at the light. They're the one that caused everything," says Montez.

With no other options left, a lawsuit was filed Monday evening at the Travis County District Court.

"The only way they'll ever be able to get Austin Energy to take their claim serious, is if they hop in the back of an ambulance, they go to the hospital and they run up expensive hospital bills," says Bonilla.

Austin Energy sent us this statement saying:
Austin Energy reviews every case carefully, and we have not received documentation to substantiate Mr. and Ms. Montez's claim of bodily injuries. After reviewing the information available, including the police report and the claimants' statements, we denied their claim.

Austin Energy says once a lawsuit is filed, it goes back to the City of Austin's Law Department. They will then be the ones to handle the claim.

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