Mr. Nice Guy walks into my office one day with a single request. Ok, I say. He wants to get his license back, and he proceeds to tell me how he and his wife both had their licenses suspended:
One day, they were stopped at a light on US Highway 19 (a long-haul route that connects the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Erie). The vehicle in front of them decides to run the red light. Just at that moment, a Sheriff’s vehicle arrives at another part of the intersection. Plainly making an unlawful maneuver by running the red light, this vehicle stops and reverses from out in the intersection – only to strike the front of my client’s vehicle.
My client exits his vehicle and is met by the profusely apologetic driver of the other vehicle, who pleads with him not to call the police. My client’s car is not damaged and the other driver immediately agrees to repair his own damages, as he acknowledges his fault in the accident. My client, just trying to be nice, ends it with a handshake and goes on his way. Now, this is where this story takes an all-too-familiar turn.
In the following months, my client is notified that he’s being sued by this other driver, who has retained an attorney. My client, not knowing better and thinking the whole thing ridiculous, doesn’t even respond. But by now that other driver has secured a verdict for several thousand dollars to garnish not only my client’s wages, but his wife’s as well. On his own, my client was able to prevail in overturning the wage garnishment, but at the cost of his and his wife’s driver licenses, which were immediately suspended until they paid the judgment of nearly $20,000 and a six month auto insurance premium.
This client, just trying to be nice, ended up cornered with a verdict he couldn’t appeal and an enormous liability for an accident that wasn’t his fault.
The moral of the story?
- Always call the police to document the accident.
- Take photos.
- Identify witnesses and get their contact info.
- Carry auto insurance at all times, to include Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
- Hire an attorney before it’s too late.
One note worth mentioning
My client, a busy person with a life full of responsibility, had put this off for three years. But the day that his and his wife’s licenses were suspended was the day they were in my office. When you’ve had an accident, don’t brush it off, take it seriously from the start and retain a proper attorney.