WWII vet dealing with costly mess after drunk driver crashes into garage

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 16:08:31-04

Feliks Kolodziej brims with pride telling the story of how he settled in Dearborn Heights in June 1967, after fighting in World War II with the Polish Armed Forces. The 94-year-old veteran and his wife have kept their Fairwood Drive home in great shape for the past 49 years until a freak accident April 20, when a neighbor rammed a van into Kolodziej's garage.

“3:30 in the morning. I was in bed," Kolodziej said. He said he thought a tree had fallen when he heard the crash, until he came out the next morning to see the garage had partially collapsed onto his car inside and on top of his neighbor's van.

According to the police report, that neighbor told officers a friend was behind the wheel, and he stopped cooperating with the investigation after admitting he was very drunk.

Meanwhile, Kolodziej got a $36,000 estimate to fix the garage. He thought none of that would have to come out of his pocket, but he learned insurance is covering only about $32,000 of it, after accounting for depreciation of the property.

While grateful he and his wife were unharmed, Kolodziej said he's worried how he’ll pay for the remaining several thousand dollars, with social security his only source of income.

Kolodziej said, beyond an apology, his neighbor hasn’t offered any help.

“All I want is to have this part of the repair the way it was before this thing," he said.

AAA looked into Kolodziej's insurance claim and released this statement to 7 Action News:

AAA agreed to the cost of Mr. Kolodziej's repairs with his contractor, Belfor Construction. Under the terms of the insurance policy, we are required to make an actual cash value payment (less recoverable depreciation) until the repairs have been completed.  A check was issued to Mr. Kolodziej for this amount.  In our settlement letter to Mr. Kolodziej dated 6/10/2016, we advised him that upon completion of the repairs he should submit his contractor's final invoice to us and AAA will pay the remaining cost of the repairs, including any depreciation withheld (up to the agreed upon estimate). Once we receive this final invoice, AAA will issue Mr. Kolodziej a check for the remaining amount due to him.