FOX 8 Defenders: Sheriff's office takes months to pay for accident damage

New Orleans, La. -- An employee of a local law enforcement agency hit another vehicle in a parking lot, and although he admitted to causing the damage, the local sheriff's office took more than a year to pay for repairs.

For Lionel Wilfred of New Orleans, a trip to the grocery store turned stressful in November 2010. "It happened in Rouses parking lot on Carrollton Avenue," he said.

With his groceries in tow, Wilfred drove his red, Ford Taurus through the store parking lot and says the driver of an Orleans Parish Sheriff's vehicle ran into him on his passenger side. "The lock mechanism was pushed in.. it was one of those vans with those iron bars on the front," said Wilfred. He said the door even got jammed shut.

The police department doesn't respond to accidents on private property so Wilfred said a lieutenant with the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office showed up, wrote a report and even issued Wilfred an item number. "They asked me was I injured. I told them no. All I want is my vehicle fixed," said Wilfred.

Wilfred got the sheriff's office some estimates to repair the damage not once, but twice. "They told me wait 10 days, they'll give me a copy of the report. I never got a copy of the report. I constantly called .. calls were never returned," said Wilfred.

After waiting a whole year, Wilfred posted a sign on the side of his damaged car detailing what happened. It read in part, "why after one year plus calls have not been returned by his staff to get the repairs done.. or is it because I am not politically connected?" For three months Wilfred said he drove around with the sign on his car, hoping to catch attention.

Fed up, Wilfred took his fight one more step and called the FOX 8 Defenders to take some action. "The deputy admitted that he was wrong, but.. the problem is.. it took me a year and four months to get any action out of it, and no action was taken until I contacted Channel 8," said Wilfred.

Once the Defenders got involved and called the sheriff's office, within two weeks, Wilfred's car was finally fixed. "It was $1300 for the repairs and $381 for the rental I had to use cause I work with kids and go from schools to their homes, and without the transportation, I couldn't do my job," explained Wilfred.

FOX 8 was never able to reach a spokesperson with the sheriff's office to find out what caused the delay in repaying Lionel Wilfred, but the Defenders are happy the problem was solved. If you have a consumer concern, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397.