I'm like a magnet for bad drivers. I've never specifically caused an accident in my life, but I have managed to be in four minor ones (that I can recall) since I got my driver's license about 17 years ago.
The latest came on Aug. 19 with my friend Mike, from California, who I had picked up at the airport just three hours earlier. It was another rear-ender, some guy who didn't have enough room to stop and slammed into the back of my car.
Turns out this wasn't his first accident of late -- actually his second in about a year. Also the second time he was driving his (as best as I could tell) soon-to-be ex-girlfriend's shiny Nissan Maxima.
Neither Mike nor I sustained injuries that required us to go directly the hospital, thank God, but we've been feeling the aches and pains associated with the impact of one rushing large piece of metal slamming into a stationary one.
Cincinnati Police officers cited the other guy for not having enough room to stop, something called "assured clear distance." You can look it up in Section 506 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code.
It's fascinating reading.
The nice officer wished me a good day and safe driving. The cop's partner didn't get out of the cruiser, much less break his stare on his mobile data computer bolted down in front of him. They were polite and professional -- and quick.
What was more disturbing than the accident itself was what happened four days later when the accident report was released by the police department.
I don't know exactly when they're released, but based on the flood of phone calls I began to receive I'm guessing it was somewhere between 8 and 8:30 in the morning.
By day's end I had around 15 calls from chiropractors, doctors' referral services and legal help lines. They all were very nice and just wanted to be sure I was doing just fine in the wake of my "unfortunate event" a few days earlier.
I patiently told each person who called that I already have a doctor, a chiropractor, a reputable body shop, a trusted mechanic, an attorney, two great parents, a handful of confidants I can talk with, a therapist, a cat and a girlfriend who will listen to me mope and that I wasn't planning to discuss my medical history with them no matter what I "planned to do" in the days and weeks ahead. They seemed used to the response.
The next day, my mailbox was stuffed with loads of letters and packets of crap from attorneys all around the area. An attorney friend of mine called them the "bottom feeders."
I was told, though I'm not completely sure, that attorneys aren't allowed to call me on the phone. A letter is more ethical and keeps the profession looking less ambulance-chaser-esque in its approach.
It wasn't exactly working, though I have to admit I liked at least two of them because they actually copied the crash report and mailed it along with their letter. That's a useful piece of information that will save me a trip to the third floor of City Hall. Thanks, guys!
The last time this happened to me -- about 18 months ago -- a Cincinnati Police cruiser T-boned me in Northside. The two officers in that car quickly admitted to me they were responding to a call that required they have their headlights and emergency lights off. The officers who responded were very nice and very concerned about how I was feeling, then promptly gave me a ticket.
Oddly, one of them called a few days later and asked if I would be going to court to fight the ticket, encouraging me to do so. I did, and no one showed up to testify against me. The case was thrown out.
I don't hate attorneys, even personal injury ones. But, man, when they come running like they did in my case, it certainly makes you wonder how well our legal system is working.
It's ripe for abuse. No secret there. If I had been seriously injured, these guys would have probably been my best friend(s).
But these types of people are why reforms that limit judgments in injury cases have been so easy to pass recently -- the exact opposite thing any person truly injured would substantially benefit from. I wonder how well that will stick in their minds.
In my case, it just seems like a matter of time before I attract another accident. Watch out!
CONTACT JOE WESSELS: firstname.lastname@example.org