I feel bad saying this, but I've always thought that people who sue for emotional duress are full of baloney. How can emotional duress be quantified? And how can it be proven?
I still feel that way, but I have to say that after my accident the other night, I do suddenly understand the term. I've had trouble sleeping since Wednesday, and I find myself awake in the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out how the accident played out (it's eight, and I've been up since three). I sit down to write and the stupid accident plays over in my head again and again. Like a bad movie that can't be turned off. I think because I only saw the police car a second before it hit me, I can't wrap my mind around what happened. Where was the police car while I was pulling up to the intersection? Not in a normal lane of traffic, because those were occupied by cars stopped at the red light. Did he stop at the red light? Did he slow a little or a lot? Did he try to swerve, or did he not have time? What influenced his decision to run the red? Was he in pursuit of someone? Rushing to a crime in progress? Or was he simply going to the scene of a fender bender?
It will be easier to put it all behind me once the on-duty officers from that night are back and I can speak to one of them. I'm praying they are forthcoming with the information. While I refuse to accept blame for what happened, I'm not angry or bitter or wanting to get the guy who hit me in trouble. I just want answers. Of course, if one of my kids had been seriously hurt or killed, I would want more than answers.
A dear friend of mine said, "Shirlee, it was an accident. Accidents happen."
I know this is true, but I will maintain forever that an emergency vehicle has a responsibility to make sure the intersection is clear before going through it, that stopping for ten seconds wastes a lot less time than is saved by going through. At the kind of intersection I was going through, there a many variables. A reasonable motorist would understand that views of oncoming cars are limited, that running a red light even if the intersection appeared clear could be dangerous. If a reasonable motorist understood this. That reasonable motorist would then slow enough to be able to stop quickly if necessary. The assumption that every motorist will hear and see emergency lights is a poor answer to this. My view of the intersection was completely blocked, and modern cars are so well insulated from noise, that is often impossible to hear sirens until the emergency vehicle is very close.
Yeah, it was an accident. Yeah, I understand how it happened.
Do I think it could have been a prevented? Yes.
Do I think I could have prevented it? No.
So, that is where I stand on responsibility for what happened. And that is the last I'm going to say about my horrible Wednesday night!
On the upside, my husband, kids and I are going car shopping today. Since poor Old Faithful is dead, I need a new ride. Or, at least, one that doesn't have the bumper completely torn from it!
And if you think about it, pray for the officer who hit me. I'm sure this is as trying a time for him as it is for me.