Trussville homeowners waiting for help 9 months after tree truck fell through roof

Trussville family waiting nine months with tarp on roof
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 9:46 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (WBRC) - A Trussville family is tired of waiting for their house to be made whole, nine months after a tree truck fell through their roof while attempting to remove a tree limb.

“I was actually sitting on the other side of that wall right there when the truck fell over on its side,” Brian Phillips said as he stood in his driveway, pointing at the side of his home. Phillips and his wife and niece were all inside last Thanksgiving week when a crane truck lifting a limb from a tree in his yard toppled over into his roof.

“The truck’s on its side and the boom arm is literally laying through the top of my roof there,” Phillips remembers.

Tree service boom truck tips over damaging homes in Trussville
Tree service boom truck tips over damaging homes in Trussville(Marianne Ross & Scott Ross)

Thankfully Brian, his wife, and niece weren’t hurt, and the Gray’s tree service truck was eventually pulled out of the house---but the couple had to move out for about a week and throw out their Thanksgiving food because they had to cut power and gas to the home while the city inspected to make sure it was safe to live in again.

“Basically we had to vacate and go to some family’s house that’s close by and sleep in our four-year-old niece’s bed for about a week until we could finally get some stuff done in the house so that we could get back in and live in the house.”

Those repairs included putting a tarp over the damaged roof while the Phillips waited to settle with Gray’s insurance company on how much they would pay for repairs.

“I didn’t feel comfortable settling for a patch up job, so I wanted to make sure we did a thorough job with their insurance company trying to get a settlement on this,” Phillips explains.

Brian says after the first adjuster came out and looked at this damage, he didn’t think the first offer from Sentry insurance was enough.

“Everything is so expensive now and it’s a very lengthy timeline before you can even get anyone out here, I felt like the quote wasn’t gonna even come and cover the lumber package for what would be needed to replace the roof.”

That was early this year, but now at the end of summer, still no repairs. Phillips says his attorney is trying to get answers from Sentry, without much luck.

“They’re just in no rush to work with us or get a settlement on this, which is easy to do when you’re not living in the home with all the damages and there’s a hole in your roof and the utility bills are sky high and you’re worried about storms and rain and whether a water leak’s gonna come in your house,” says Brian.

Gray’s Tree Service owner Gil Gray told us “I would be upset too if I was in their shoes. I don’t really know what the conversations were with the insurance company or the adjuster. I assumed it was handled and they were back in their house.”

Gray says he didn’t know the Phillips’ home hadn’t been repaired until they reached out to him in July. “I immediately called my agent to find out what was happening, and he researched it and said the homeowner’s attorney and the insurance company’s adjuster and attorney have been going round and round,” Gray explains. “What about? I don’t know. Usually it’s in the details.”

Gray says “I just would’ve thought that I would’ve been made aware it hadn’t been taken care of yet, because I would’ve reached out and tried to help out in some sort of way.”

We reached out to Sentry insurance, and their director of corporate communications told us ”We sympathize with the Phillips’ situation. The claim process can take time, but we continue to have conversations with the attorney on this matter.”

Asked if he ever expected to be standing in his yard in August still staring at a tarp, Brian says “Never. And I really do feel bad for all my neighbors who have to walk by everyday and see it---but no, I can’t believe we’re still here looking at this tarp.”

The Phillips and their attorney are now considering legal action in an effort to reach some resolution.


Subscribe to our WBRC newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email.

Copyright 2022 WBRC. All rights reserved.