Back in July of 2019, my grandson Stuart had a minor accident on I-20 in Atlanta in one of my fleet of cars. It seems that a suburban in front of him crammed into a wrecker in front of it. Not having allowed himself enough time to stop, Stuart slid into the middle vehicle—the suburban--and bumped it. His airbags did not deploy, which they are designed to do when hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8 to 14 mph or higher. This would be equivalent to striking a parked car of similar size at about 16 to 28 mph or higher.
No damage was done to Stuart or his shiny red car except that the Altima’s emblem popped off and the bumper had a tiny scratch. Stuart wasn’t even sore and sustained not so much as a scratch on his body. However, in the state of Georgia, if you hit another vehicle in the rear, you are most likely at fault. Our insurance company took care of the accident and did what good insurance companies do—their jobs. And I paid my insurance premiums on a regular basis, never running late at all. I too was doing my job. And since we thought we were finished with the whole affair, we went about our business.
Months passed by. The hottest of Georgia’s sweltering days disappeared and the leaves fell, signaling the advent of Fall. The Thanksgiving turkey was all eaten, then the Christmas ham and now all the Christmas decorations and signs of the season have been packed away except that one wreath in the dining room that I keep forgetting. Time marched right along.
This week a letter came in the mail to say maybe we were not quite finished with this summer affair after all. It seems the gentleman driver of the suburban is suing us, or the insurance company on our behalf, for injuries and missed workdays. His lawyer says he needs $25,000 to cover his injuries and other misfortunes, some of which are paying his lawyer, of course. Suddenly my stomach flipped as the smell of rotting fish wafted under my nose. I had an epiphany and called my agent.
“How does this lawyer know that his client was injured by the impact of the Altima, whose air bags didn’t even deploy?” I asked. “How does he know it wasn’t the impact of his own vehicle and the one he plowed into in front of him? After all, his front end was demolished while ours wasn’t even scratched.”
“He doesn’t know,” she replied. “In a case like this, it is customary to offer the wounded party half of the amount they’re asking for. That way we can stay out of court. Going to court is expensive.”
And to myself I thought, “Yep, and a scam artist pockets whatever money he can get after he’s paid his lawyer. He enriches his coffers, and so does his lawyer. That’s exactly why car insurance has gone through the roof in the last few years. It’s called gaming the system and it costs us all loads of money.”
Our car insurance went up naturally when our three boys got old enough to drive; they had their share of accidents, too. Calvin tried once to drive the car up the guy wire of a light pole but didn’t quite make it. Josh turned his first car upside down in a ditch, totaling it completely. Then came Stuart, our first grandson, who followed in Josh’s footsteps. We never wondered why we paid so much for insurance. When the boys grew up, turned into men, and moved out of the house, the insurance rates never dropped much. I had really hoped they would. Now I realize that they probably never will with all the thousands of low-class people out there waiting to scam the insurance industry.
How often I hear of these cases, now that I think about. Whiplash comes on suddenly when the possibility of money appears.