Domenica Saverino survived an armed carjacking by Robert Maday, the bank robber who escaped from authorities in September, but she's not sure her finances will.
The Roselle resident is still paying for the 2004 Volkswagen Jetta judged a total loss after Maday crashed it into a traffic light pole in West Chicago during a police chase that ended a 26-hour, multi-suburb manhunt.
On top of that, she has now gotten a notice from a collection agency, seeking expenses for a driver Maday hit while trying to elude police in her car.
Saverino thinks her car is worth more than her insurance company is willing to pay, and that Cook County should step up with anything she owes above an insurance settlement.
Maday escaped from Cook County State's Attorney's officers Sept. 17 as they were escorting him to court in Rolling Meadows. He was still at large the morning of Sept. 18 when he approached Saverino in the parking lot of the Hoffman Estates building where she is a receptionist, showed her a gun and stole her car.
A friend called the Daily Herald recently because a frustrated Saverino doesn't know where to turn.
The problem is she still owes $10,600 for the car, and the insurance company will pay her $6,400 minus her $500 deductible. That leaves her owing about $5,000, which is a big deal to the 32-year-old woman who works as a receptionist and office administrator in a dental office.
"I've already made three payments," of $318 each, since losing the car, she said.
Saverino works two additional weekend jobs as a caregiver - Saturdays for a handicapped person and Sundays for an elderly man - trying to save a down payment for a new car. But she's not sure anyone will loan her enough to buy a new car and pay off the old one.
And she doesn't understand why this is her problem.
"I hate to point the finger, but mistakes get made. Somebody has to pay the consequences of those mistakes," Saverino said.
"Why should it be me? They're supposed to be protecting us from people like this."
The young woman says she is not interested in demanding huge amounts of money for trauma or psychological injury. In fact, she says her only real lingering trauma is paying for the car. Friends have suggested holding fundraisers, but she doesn't think they should have to do that.
The $6,400 valuation for the car came from CCC Valuescope, a Chicago-based company that provides information to insurance companies, according to a statement from Direct Auto Insurance Co. of Chicago.
The insurance company gave Saverino a list of cars for sale similar to hers that could be purchased for the amount of the proposed settlement, the statement said.
The company also said that neither Saverino nor Direct Auto is responsible for any damages or injuries that Maday caused. And the insurance company will handle the notice for $3,369 that she got from the collection agency.
"As Ms. Saverino was advised today, any correspondence or phone calls she gets seeking reimbursement from her or her insurance company should be directed to us and we will handle everything for her," Melissa A. Joseph of Direct Auto said Thursday in an e-mail.
"No court would rule in favor of a party seeking reimbursement from a person who had their vehicle stolen at gunpoint, used in a crime, and as a result caused damage and/or injury to others."
The Cook County State's Attorney's office does not have a mechanism to pay for the car, said spokesman Andy Conklin.
The county intends to ask for restitution from Maday for Saverino, said Conklin. He said another option is for her to sue the county.
Illinois is not very good at getting restitution from incarcerated perpetrators, said Jeff Dion, director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association. California on the other hand, recovers $16 million each year, he added.
Saverino contacted several attorneys on a list provided by Dion's organization, but all said they can't afford to sue for $5,000.
Dion agreed. A complicated case against the county might cost as much as $30,000, he said. And victim's compensation funds are generally for medical bills, counseling and lost time at work, not property damage, he said.
Dion thinks the case might be worth more than $5,000, anyway.
"Victims aren't always in a position to evaluate everything that was done to them and the damages," he said.
Steve Fiorentino, a Chicago attorney who is a friend of Saverino's family and is helping her without charge, said it is premature to sue the county. For now her dispute is with the insurance company.
He has sent the insurance company documentation supporting Saverino's argument that the car is worth $8,000 or $9,000.
The morning of Friday, Sept. 18, Saverino noticed a man sitting on a curb when she drove into the secluded parking lot of the Hoffman Estates office park where she works.
"I thought, 'Should I pull in or not?'" she told the Daily Herald the next day. Saverino decided it was a safe neighborhood, but as soon as she got out of the car, he was next to her door.
"He mumbled something," she said. "He pulled his shirt up to show me that he had the gun."
The man demanded her keys and her money and told her to get in and start the car.
She said she didn't carry money and refused to get in the car.
"I said, 'You know how to use the car, take it,'" she said.
Saverino had the presence of mind to remove her house keys from the key ring before relinquishing the car keys.
She was unaware of the massive manhunt that had started the day before. Even Maday seemed mystified by this.
"Lady, don't you watch the news? I'm the guy who broke out of prison yesterday," he told her.
Saverino is pleased that authorities can point to her as an example of how people should never get into a car with any robber, even armed.
And she knows having the description of her car and the license plate number helped police apprehend Maday.
But these days Saverino is driving a car borrowed from her cousin. She misses her Jetta, which she kept in great shape had just had tuned up before it was stolen.
"I worked so hard for that car, it was my pride and joy," Saverino said.