Debris Danger: Target 12 gets answers after woman’s windshield is shattered on 95

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When a piece of wood flew off of a bridge that was under construction, it crashed into Joanne Soccio’s car.

Soccio was on Interstate 95 in Cranston, on her way home from work when the incident happened.

“It hit and the windshield and just shattered,” Soccio told Target 12. “The traffic had actually just broken, so I was probably starting to go about 30 to 40 mph, and that’s when it came down. I actually saw it come down off the bridge. It just kind of happened in a second.”

Joanne described the piece of wood as a 12-inch-by-12-inch square.

“As I was on the phone with 911, I heard something in the road. I realized it was that block of wood that was being thrown around the highway by other cars.”

Soccio said nobody was working at the bridge construction site when the incident happened. She filed a report with Rhode Island State Police, then her insurance company took over.

Soccio’s windshield was fixed right away and her car was able to be driven, but the insurance adjuster estimated there was about $1,700 worth of body damage that needed to be repaired.

According to RIDOT, the project contractor was Cardi. Under the terms of the contract, Cardi was required to maintain liability insurance for the project. The company denied Soccio’s claim in November, according to RIDOT.

In an email to Target 12, Jeremy Ritzenberg, vice president and general counsel of Cardi Corporation explained why Soccio’s claim was denied:

Cardi’s investigation to date indicates that this unfortunate incident occurred at a location where no work was being performed by Cardi. There was, however, a canvas and wood containment system owned and controlled by Atsalis Brothers Painting Company, a subcontractor on the project, on an overpass above the location of the reported incident. Cardi has therefore has referred this claim to Atsalis for response or settlement. We have not yet heard back from Atsalis, however, and have therefore contacted Atsalis to ensure that an appropriate response is provided. Until we receive that response and can perform any further investigation that may be required, our files on this matter will remain open.

Target 12 also contacted Atsalis Brothers. A spokesperson for the company denied responsibility and said the company doesn’t use pieces of wood during any of its construction projects.

After both the subcontractor and contractor denied responsibility, Target 12 asked RIDOT to review the claim.

RIDOT spokesperson, Charles St. Martin said the agency’s internal claims committee “reviewed Ms. Soccio’s claim, determined it to be valid, and will pay it.”

St. Martin further explained, “RIDOT will be reimbursed by withholding funds in the amount of the claim from future payments to the contractor.”

Target 12 also requested data from RIDOT about how many construction zone claims are filed. According to the agency, since 2014 the estimated number of construction zone claims is 544. Contractors are not required to report claims resolutions to the state.

So here’s what you need to know if your vehicle is damaged in a construction zone and you plan to file a claim through RIDOT.

Document the damage. Once you’re in a safe location, take photos or video of your vehicle. Then contact the Work Zone Claims Coordinator at (401) 222-2468 ext. 4101.

You will be asked to submit several documents:

  • copy of a police report, tow receipt or an auto club report
  • copy of the vehicle’s registration
  • copy of the repair invoice or an estimate for work

If you go through the claims process and you believe your claim was incorrectly denied by the contractor, you can ask RIDOT’s internal claims committee to review your claim.

If your vehicle was damaged in a construction zone on a city or town road, reach out to that municipality to file a claim.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.