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Homeowner forced to delay retirement after uninsured driver destroys home

By Shawn Chitnis

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GREELEY, CO (KCNC) -- A homeowner wants to see changes in policies regarding property damage to protect others from the high cost he’s facing after a truck crashed into his house. He says the mobile home he lived in at the time was destroyed and because the driver didn’t have insurance, he was forced to pay for a majority of the expenses.

“He didn’t just destroy our house, he destroyed our retirement,” said Ed Wehrenberg. “Our law is flawed; it is totally flawed.”

Wehrenberg and his wife were inside their mobile home last May when a driver crashed a truck on the front side. The house was condemned and they were forced to buy a brand new home and install it on the same lot of their neighborhood. Insurance for their house could only cover the cost of their previous mobile home, not the price to buy a new home. A court found that the driver had a medical issue and was not guilty of a crime, so the couple did not receive any money from him.

“We can’t say enough about how much the neighbors helped that day,” Wehnrenberg.

The couple says generosity from local businesses and others in the development helped them to get through this difficult setback but the life changing event has altered the next decade for both of them. Retirement will not be as planned and they are already spending thousands of dollars to cover the cost of the new mobile home.

“This could have happened at any house; the guy could have run over a child. Could have run over someone walking their dog,” he said. “It could happen again.”

He’s asking state lawmakers to make changes that help victims pursue damages. Wehrenberg says that the driver in this case only paid a $500 fine but he will end up spending almost $200,000 for his new home. A court may not have found the driver responsible for a criminal act but Wehrenberg wishes he still had the option to try to collect money to cover the expenses from the crash.

“Where’s the justice in that? There is no justice in that system,” he said. “We had intended to retire in October.”

He says $12,000 a year will now go from his retirement to the home because of the crash. He expects he will work until he is 80.

“This guy took 10 years of my life,” he said. “My wife and I are the victims.”

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