Lunaya Pravda

25 September 2007

Knowing when to shut up

Maybe I should rethink this "overcoming fear" theme for the year.

Just a smidge over two weeks ago, I wrote about having my sunroof smashed by a rock thrown from an overpass. Yesterday morning, I was rear-ended on my way to work. Fortunately there were no serious injuries beyond some stiffness and soreness on my part, and it was pretty clearly the other driver's fault.

My heart aches for her. She's just barely 19, and I remember all too well what it was like causing an accident at that age. She was changing lanes, looking over her shoulder to make sure the lane was clear, when traffic (and me) came to a stop. How many times have we all taken that momentary glance over our shoulder only to find traffic at a stand-still, our own vehicle headed straight for the guy at the back of the line? It could've happened to anyone, and I think inexperience is primarily to blame. Not a cell phone, not the radio...just inexperience and bad luck. Man, have I been there.

Here's what really bothered me about the adversarial nature of the aftermath of a car accident. She kept doing the ONE thing insurance tells you not to do--she admitted fault. She apologized repeatedly. And because of the evil trio of insurance, lawyers, and liability, not only could I not tell her it was alright, I couldn't tell her to shut up and stop admitting fault. Doing anything humane such as patting her on the arm and telling her it would be alright might hurt MY case.

Her insurance company called me today to take my statement, and they specifically asked if she admitted fault. As much as I wanted to gloss over that fact, she DID admit it, and I told them so. And I'm not trying to be an asshole here. I'm not some lawsuit-happy pain-in-the-ass jerk looking to use a fender bender as a get rich quick scheme. But I feel like I threw her under the bus in order to save myself. Maybe her insurance would've paid anyway, whether or not I told them that information. Maybe this all strikes me as incredibly unfair because I've been in her shoes.

It seems to me that the law shouldn't exist to prevent us from acting like human beings with even an ounce of compassion. In this case, the law forces you to be the dickhead lest it steamroll you instead of the other guy.

So, to teenager B. who hit me--at the scene of an accident, for God's sake, SHUT UP! Exchange the necessary information with the other driver, but otherwise keep quiet. I know you that when you're at fault, you want to fall all over yourself apologizing (and God love you for it--only a completely heartless asshole wouldn't yearn to apologize for their mistakes). But for your own sake and my peace of mind, please, just shut up.