Driver files claim against I-77 project contractor for vehicle damage

- A driver whose vehicle received thousands of dollars of damage after hitting a steel pavement marker in the I-77 project construction zone has filed a claim against Sugar Creek Construction, the contractor hired by the state.

Casey Durham told FOX 46 he was driving to Charlotte on a Saturday evening in October when his vehicle hit a steel pavement marker that had come loose in the road near mile marker 26.

“It ended up being one of the pavement markers that had gotten dislodged and someone ran over it, flipped it up, and traffic was extremely heavy at that point in the left hand lane so I couldn't get out of the way and it went under my car and literally sounded like it was ripping up the bottom of my car out, the sound of metal hitting metal and scraping through the bottom, this pop pop pop pop sound, and then it came out from under my car, ended up doing quite a bit of damage," Durham said. "When I looked up in my rear view mirror, I saw smoke coming out from under my car and actually I saw the marker fly out from under my car.”

Durham said he pulled over immediately to survey the damage.

“The oil was all over the ground and my car was covered in a film of oil, I walked back into the interstate I found the marker, it was maybe 50 yards back on the emergency lane, it had oil fresh residue on it so I knew that was the one I had hit,” he said.

Durham provided FOX 46 Charlotte with a copy of the damage estimate he was provided from an auto shop, which revealed thousands of dollars in damage.

"The damage cost over $4,000 in damage, ended up costing me a $500 deductible of course plus the headache,” Durham said. New fuel tank, exhaust system, radiator system had to be replaced, several other small things under there that had to be replaced as well.”

Durham said he didn’t file a claim against Sugar Creek Construction at the time because his insurance advised him the cost of taking action would likely exceed the $500 deductible he paid. But after seeing numerous media reports in recent weeks about other drivers who have hit the pavement markers in the construction zones, doing major damage to their vehicles, he decided to take action.

"I was like oh crap this is happening to several people, not just me, it wasn't just an isolated incident, it happened to a guy, one went through his windshield, another had one that stuck up someone's car so I was like I'm gonna pursue this and hold some people accountable, regardless of if it was the state or Sugar Creek construction, they need to be held responsible and take care of the damages,” Durham said.

Durham showed FOX 46 an email from a Sugar Creek Construction spokeswoman, who confirmed that his claim had been received and was being reviewed.

FOX 46 Charlotte reached out to Sugar Creek Construction Wednesday morning  to ask how many claims they’ve received since the beginning of 2017, and how many the company has accepted.

The company sent the following statement:

“Sugar Creek Construction takes the safety of the traveling public and its workers seriously.  We work diligently, in cooperation with NCDOT, to address concerns brought to our attention on a case-by-case basis.  We cannot comment on individual claims. Motorists are encouraged to use extra caution when approaching an active work zone, to pay especially close attention to and follow posted signs and other warnings, and to allow extra time to reach their destinations safely.”

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