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Take Risks, Bear Consequences, That’s Life

It was a pleasure meeting JD this weekend and so I was concerned when I heard that he and his wife were in a car accident [3] after we had parted ways. It appears that all is okay for JD, both physically and financially, which is great news; but all was not okay for the other driver.

If you’ve met JD, or read his blog, you know he’s a really nice guy. He’s very cognizant of others and the impact of his decision on others, so it’s not surprising to read his post about how he feels bad that this event may have tragic consequences for the other driver. Unfortunately, we all take risks in our lives and have the unfortunate burden of bearing the consequences should they occur. If the other driver didn’t have a driver’s license, he shouldn’t have been driving because he hadn’t demonstrated the minimum requirements (he could’ve used a bicycle, rode mass transit, etc.). If the other driver was in the United States illegally, unfortunately he took the risk to enter illegally rather than legally and now would have to face the consequences of his decisions. JD can’t let the decisions others make affect what he should do for himself and his family.

Let’s say that he did what his heart wanted, which was bear the financial brunt of the accident where he was entirely not at fault. What happens if he or his wife develops neck or back problems down the road? Since insurance was never notified, he alone bears the medical cost. If it were his car and it developed significant problems as a result of the accident, he alone bears the cost. He can’t “go back in time” and report the accident. While selfish, the future is a very long time and he has to think about the “total potential cost” of the accident and not just the cost of repairs. I think he did the right, and only, thing.

On the topic of accidents, taking risks and facing consequences, I have a similar unfortunately story (luckily we were witnesses and not participants).

One night my wife and I were driving home when we saw an accident at an intersection with a flashing red and flashing yellow light. This was one of those traffic lights that went from Red/Yellow/Green in the day, to flashing yellow and flashing red at night. The rules are that those who see flashing red treat it as a stop sign and those who see flashing yellow don’t need to stop but should proceed with caution. In this particular accident, the car with the flashing red didn’t stop and hit the car with the flashing yellow. This was a relatively slow accident but the damage to the flashing yellow car (not at fault) was pretty bad, it was undrivable; and the damage to the flashing red car (at fault) was relatively minor.

To make the drama worse, the driver of the at-fault car jumped out of the car and ran into the night! A few minutes later someone else returned (allegedly the same guy), but we were pretty sure he was different because there were two witnesses vehicles and we both thought the same thing. We thought the driver didn’t have a license or didn’t have insurance so he bolted, leaving his pregnant companion (wife? girlfriend?), to get a friend to take his place. Anyway, the true sadness in this story was the fact that the police discovered the driver of the not-at-fault car, who was driving with someone who appeared to be his son, was found to be above the alcohol limit and he was arrested. The other car drove away with a citation.

The man did not appear intoxicated, not that appearances are a good indicator, but ultimately did nothing wrong in that particular accident. However, he decided to risk driving home while he was legally intoxicated and now he had to face the consequences. Would the cops not have arrested him because he was with his son and he did nothing wrong in the accident? No. They couldn’t and now the guy was in handcuffs, sitting on the curb, with his son sitting next to him. It was a sad sight to see but we must all bear the consequences of our actions.