Troubleshooter: Who's responsible when newspaper carrier hits woman's fence

MEBANE, N.C. (WTVD) -- When an accident isn't your fault, you don't expect to be responsible for the damages, but one homeowner learned otherwise after she says a newspaper carrier crashed into her fence.

"When I got outside, I couldn't believe it. The car was still in the ditch and the whole side of the fence was taken out," homeowner Cindy Thompson said.

According to police, while delivering newspapers for the Durham Herald-Sun, Jarmall Lumpkin crashed into Thompson's fence in the middle of the night.

Lumpkin was charged with failure to remain on scene and possession of marijuana.

However, for Thompson, there was a bigger concern.

"It was very scary because, my first thought was this could've happened during the day when my kids were outside," Thompson said.

She owns a home daycare, and keeping her yard fenced in is state law. So fixing the issue was an immediate concern, but another problem arose.

"He had no insurance -- no auto insurance. So apparently the car was sold to them about a month or two ago, and they never got auto insurance," Thompson said.

So she called the Herald Sun and says a rep told her they would be able to help, but after a week, they went back on that claim and said there was nothing that could be done.

Thompson had to file the broken fence with her homeowner's insurance, and pay a $1,000 deductible.

"I just didn't know what else to do," she said.

Frustrated, Thompson contacted ABC 11 and a rep from the Herald Sun told us all of their newspaper carriers are independent contractors and provide insurance at the time of contracting. He added that they don't have employee-like controls over their carriers and the carriers are responsible for their own actions.

As for Thompson, that raises more concerns.

"The safety of when they are driving through neighborhoods to deliver, are they doing background checks? How do they hire these delivery drivers," Thompson said. "It also raises the question, if they verify that they have insurance at the time that they hire them, how often do they do checks on the drivers?"

A rep with the Herald Sun said they do not do background checks, and only require a license and insurance check.

He told us there is nothing the newspaper can do about it and all concerns must be taken up with the carrier Lumpkin, who, in this case, is currently in jail.

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