The Scientist was in an accident last week.
Nothing serious; she was stopped at a red light at the guy behind her slid on the ice and rear-ended her. He was only going five miles per hour or so, and other than a smashed-in bumper there was no damage to her car.
She was on the phone with me when it happened. Ironically, she was saying, “Be careful on the drive home. It’s snowing and EEEEK! I just got hit!” She called the cops and they waited around for the police report. Apparently Mr. Sorry-I-Just-Smashed-You-Bumper was in a hurry to leave, and said that since they had exchanged information there was no reason for him to stay. My wife, who is wise, begged to disagree, and made him stick around.
Being that he wasn’t driving his own car and he had bare-bones GEICO insurance, we’re happy that we have a police report.
After the initial “Holy shit! I just paid this car off!” it’s all seemed to turn out okay. His insurance company is paying to have The Scientist’s truck repaired. They’re paying for the rental car she’ll be driving while that happens. And they’re paying the cost for her chiropractor visits.
About that. She felt fine the day of the accident, but her neck started to hurt the day after. She was able to get in to see her guy right away. He took x-rays and told her she has minor whiplash. He’ll see her twice a week for about a month; after which he thinks she’ll be fine.
In discussing the accident, most people ask, “Are you going to sue?” This isn’t something that we had really considered. But, it seems, everyone else has. Including the two lawyers who sent nice letters to my wife the day after the accident. Helpful sorts. Even The Scientist’s doctor said he has connections with a lawyer who could help her if she wanted to sue. “You could probably get a couple thousand dollars for pain and suffering.”
Now, we could certainly use a couple thousand dollars. And my wife is in pain. Not a huge, debilitating amount of pain, but her neck hurts her. But we’re not going to sue.
It just feels like an underhanded thing to do. I mean, the insurance agency should pay for damages, including doctor visits--and they are. That’s what you have insurance for. And if this guy who hit her didn’t have insurance, then maybe we would sue him directly to recoup these costs. But for “pain and suffering”?
I’ve heard that litigation is the new lottery. In other words, more people think they have a chance of making some big money by suing than by playing the Pick5. And that just seems shitty. I mean, if you’re really hurt and can’t work, that’s one thing. But a fender-bender and sore neck? Not the same thing.
I bet the insurance company wouldn’t blink at a $2K settlement. The lawyer would get $700 or so, and we’d pocket enough to put a big dent in our credit card bills.
But we just don’t want to feed into that system.
I don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou, but we’re all grown-ups, right? The guy had insurance. He wasn’t driving recklessly. It’s early in winter, so I can even forgive him for not recognizing an icy patch. My wife will recover. To abuse the system by suing--even when most other people might do it--isn’t something we’d do. I suppose it’s not a dishonest thing to do, but it certainly doesn’t feel honest.
Maybe you think we’re dumb for not cashing in on an easy paycheck. And maybe we are. But if we sued this guy, it just wouldn’t feel right.
Then again, two grand could go a long way toward easing that sting.