50,000 bucks

Image credit: patkilbane.com

Hard knock at the door. "Hello, can I help you?"

"I'm delivering a citation," said a middle-aged man.

"What do you mean a citation?"

"Just read these stack of papers. You are being sued for $50,000."

Confused, I shut the door and sank into the sofa. I started reading through the 50 pages of legalese. The gist of the citation is that I was being sued for an car accident I had had six months ago. It detailed all the physical injuries, mental anguish and emotional stress that the accident had resulted in. 

Yes, the car accident was my fault. I rear-ended a car on a rainy weekday morning. My car suffered more injuries than their car. No ambulance was needed and I was with the other driver and passenger for over an hour after the accident. There were no complaints of pain and no emotional tears.

The driver and passenger were both unlicensed and uninsured. However, they still found a way to work the system and sue me.

I had no idea where to start. Would I need a lawyer? Would I need to go to court to fight this mess? I called our university general counsel the next day asking for advice. "First, go ahead and call your insurance company and tell them about the citation."

"Hi, I received a citation last night in connection with an accident six months ago." 

After verifying insurance policy information, the agent said with a half chuckle, "We've been waiting for you to call us Mr. Russell." 

Confused, I replied, "What do you mean waiting for me to call?" 

"We've been going back and forth trying to settle this case, but they are not willing to accept our offers. It seems like they have had enough and have now gone straight for you."

"Okay, but---"

"Don't worry Mr. Russell, we'll send them a check for $50,000 today."

"That's it?"

"Yep, when they go for our client, we are obliged to settle on their terms. We will take it from here. No need to worry. Sorry for the inconvenience Mr. Russell. Have a nice day."

What did I learn from my suing experience:
- Take stressful situations one step at a time.

- If you want to make a quick buck, have a friend rear-end your vehicle. Then sue your friend so his insurance company will send you a grand check. In all honesty I am joking, but this thought did come to mind after this experience. The sad thing is that of the $50,000 the plaintiffs probably only received a small percentage with the bulk going to the lawyer.