Wednesday, October 24, 2007

      ( 11:12 AM ) teahouse
No Need to Escalate

I got into a minor collision with someone last week, as I was backing out of my spot in a parking lot. I was going about 1 mph, my little car bumped up against a guy in a big SUV (I think he was waiting for my parking spot but he was too close).

I immediately jumped out of the car and apologized (I'm a nice person, and I don't buy into what people say about not apologizing). He was calm, but his wife flipped out and yelled at me. He pointed at a spot on the side of his car, and said to his wife, "That was already there." I presume he was pointing at a dent or something, but I couldn't see what it was he was pointing at.

We exchanged phone numbers. I thought we should call the police or at least get each other's insurance information. But they jumped into their car and drove off immediately, apparently in a hurry.

A couple of days later he called and left me a voicemail saying that he wanted to talk about the damage I'd done to his big SUV (of which I had seen none at the scene of the accident, and which perplexed me because my little car had no damage at all).

I immediately called my insurance company, and they opened a claim and said they'd call him right away and get things rolling. That was on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours later, he left another voicemail for me. This time it was really nasty.

"You'd better call me back," he said. "Just so you know, I wrote down your license plate number, so I'm going to the DMV and I'm going to find you. Don't think you can avoid responsibility for this!!"

I was pretty shaken. I called my insurance company, and the very nice lady confirmed that they had, in fact, called him on Friday afternoon (less than an hour after he left his first voicemail) and left a message. The fool obviously hadn't checked his voicemail before calling me again.

She was very reassuring, and promised to call him again immediately and call back to let me know if they'd gotten in touch with him. She also said that I should not talk to him if he called again; to let her handle it.

"Make sure you tell him you did contact him on Friday!" I said. "I don't want him to think that he can get me to do what he wants by threatening."

Why are people like this? From the tone of his voice, you'd think I'd killed his mother or something. If something is my fault, of course I'm willing to pay for any damage I've done. And as an attorney and officer of the court, I would never try to avoid responsibility. There was no need for him to start threatening me.

And who wouldn't at least wait until Monday morning to follow up after leaving a voicemail on a Friday afternoon?

And how could my little Toyota, which is totally undamaged, have done any major damage to his big gas-guzzling SUV?

Sigh. I'm trying to put it all out of my mind, and let my insurance company handle it all.

But the downside of being a lawyer is that you always think of the worst-case, law school torts textbook scenarios. He could sue me for giving him or his wife whiplash. He could claim that I totaled his car and/or rendered him permanently handicapped and unable to perform his job. He could be an Eggshell Skull plaintiff and try to make me pay his psychiatrist's bills.

Yeah, sometimes it really sucks to be a lawyer. It messes up your perspective on everything!



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THIRTYSOMETHING (!!) year old Asian American New Yorker, lawyer, amateur musician, curious girl taking a bite out of the Big Apple. Don't mess with me - I'm short and I look demure, but I carry a big purse. And I've just embarked on the journey of married life in Manhattan.

Currently Reading
The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie

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Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante

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Poirot: The Clocks

E-mail teahouseblossom

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