Complicated thoughts following relative's accident

Was hoping any of you might be able to share your experiences following a relative/friend’s injury that resulted from their negligence.

Short version - a week or so ago, one of my nephews (age 23 - driving parents’ car) crossed the highway centerline at 70 MPH and had a head-on collision w/ another car. Both he and other driver were hospitalized w/ pretty severe injuries. There were 2 additional accidents behind the first. At the scene, my nephew said he just wasn’t paying attention. No substances involved. Middle of the day, clear weather/conditions.

My sister is understandably extremely distressed, and I and my sisters have been trying to support her. Of course, there is extremely little we can do. The nephew is a good kid, and I certainly wish he recovers fully and quickly. Multiple broken bones, but no severe internal injuries. He is very lucky.

But I keep finding my thoughts turning to factors other than just my nephew’s recovery. I wonder how badly the other driver was injured, and how they are doing? I’m wondering how the family feels about the pain and expense he caused the other people, and the longterm financial and legal implications.

Yeah, I know it really is none of my business, but I still find these thoughts coming to mind. (Possibly due - in part - to my wife and me both being lawyers.) Like I said, he is overall a really nice guy - but through this one instance of negligence ha caused several people unnecessary injury and expense. Any thoughts? Am I just a horrible human being? (But, we already know that! ;))

I would be having the exact same thoughts. What happened may likely affect both of the injured parties and their immediate families for the rest of their lives.

All I can say is, if it were my kid he would never again be given access to my car. I’m not certain what liability his parents might face, I would hope none given that he’s as old as he is.

Yeah - I don’t know either. And I know it is soon after the crash. But it just kinda seems odd that this huge aspect to the situation is unmentioned.

Heck, I don’t have any right to relatives’ health or financial information. I’m happy for them to keep it private. But they tossed the health aspect out there through texts, facebook, phone calls. I keep thinking of the varied thoughts that would be swirling through my head if it had been my kid. The fact that he injured someone else just seems like a huge elephant in the room. I hope/assume this is of significant concern to the nephew and his family, but there has been ZERO mention of the other folk. I don’t expect them to be donning hairshirts and ashes, but I wonder if it will ever get mentioned? Surely, my wife and I can’t be the only ones thinking about this stuff…

It is very likely that I will never know how this affects their insurance, financial health, etc. And I’m fine with that. OTOH, I really hope they don’t call me or my wife expecting legal advice, cause we’ve got none to offer other than that they need to work closely with their insurer and will likely need a good attorney.

Not much help to offer to someone that they are fucked…

I hadn’t thought about insurance but you’re right, his parent’s auto insurer are certainly involved and maybe their health insurance too, if he’s still a dependent and on their policy.

Since he’s under 25, he might be carried on his parents’ insurance to get a cheaper rate. I don’t know if this is the case in this particular instance.

They are called accidents and not on-purposes. If you’ve never had a moment of negligence in your life, you are less than human, and its only luck that your moments have not resulted in a tragedy.

I don’t know what the maximum liability is if you lend your car to someone. Don’t know if the nephew is named as a driver on their policy. Hopefully, the other peoples’ injuries are not terribly severe, and they are willing to settle for the insurance coverage. No idea whether the other people could sue just the driver, or the car owners as well, if their damages exceeded coverage. Also not an expert on bankruptcy - which I could imagine being in the kid’s future.

But aside from just financial matters/hassles, it seems odd for us to all be so concerned about the nephew’s health and mood - I’m sure if I were the other driver or his family, I’d be a lot less concerned with such things. I wonder if there will ever be any mention of remorse for injuring other people and causing the family such distress. I’m sure not going to bring it up! :wink:

Yeah, point of view and all, but still weird.

You are right. But negligence is actionable under our system because it is presumably preventable. Sure, he didn’t MEAN to cause this accident, but millions of people are able to drive every day without crossing the centerline and causing a head-on…

Another topic that I haven’t mentioned - I couldn’t believe that he had readily admitted liability. Case closed. Sole issue remaining is how many zeros.

My kids are all adults, but they have all reminded me of when they were young and they’d say, “I didn’t mean to do xyz.” My consistent response was, “Yeah, but you DID it.”

I’m a pretty firm believer in taking responsibility for the results of one’s actions - whether intended or not. I’m sure other folk differ.

ISTM that Judge Dinsdale is at fault for not explaining the effect of an admission of liability to Nephew of Dinsdale. :wink:

In Florida, the “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine has been extended to the automobile context, so anyone who lends a car is liable for resulting accidents. I gather this is very much a minority view but that other states impose similar liability under other theories.

Driving is an inherently dangerous activity. Especially when you are on a high-speed freeway that doesn’t have a center divider. I don’t think all the blame should fall on the person who made the negligent mistake (however horrendous the accident was). People do make mistakes. That’s just part of the risk we have to accept on the road.

There should be punishment, but the punishment should not seek to hold the person entirely responsible for what happened, in my opinion.
In other words, a very lenient punishment. If this happens twice to the same person, however, that’s an indication this person probably should not be driving on the freeway.

There’s little that Dinsdale could have told him after the fact since the nephew admitted liability at the scene. It seems to me he’s trying to stay out of it, anyway. He is not his sister’s attorney.

I really don’t understand your point. Is your discomposure because you no longer know how you feel about him as a person–that family loyalty and affection is now tainted by feeling like he’s a bad person? Do you feel like because you’d hate him if he’d harmed your family this way, it’s unjust for you not to hate him because he harmed some family, and that your subjectivity is unethical?

When you say you “can’t believe” he readily admitted liability, do you mean that you are shocked he was so unwise as to do so, or impressed with the fact that he is owning his mistake?

You express surprise that no one is talking to you about the injuries–do you take that to mean they don’t care? Honestly, I’d ask about those injuries out of concern for my nephew: I’d be worried he was devastated.

I meant for not telling him before the accident. But I was kidding, really.

I got the impression that the concern was because no one in his family was talking about the other people’s injuries.

Sorry. I overlooked your smilie. My fault.

They are called “collisions” or “crashes” because accidents imply that no one is at fault. There is no excuse for crossing the centreline of a road.
Forgivable moments of negligence are more on the “forgot to buy milk” level and not on the “piloting a multi-ton piece of machinery into another human being” level.

It is most certainly not luck that my moments of negligence haven’t caused such damage. I pay attention when I have other people’s lives in my hands.

Right. If I, in a moment of negligence, hurt someone badly, I’d be devastated. If someone I loved hurt someone else, I’d assume the same, and I’d want to reach out to emotionally support the family member that was hurting. I would assume that when they didn’t mention the other person, it was because they felt guilty and ashamed and I’d want to comfort them. Obviously, it’s better to be the guilty/ashamed person than the horribly injured one, but the guilty/ashamed person is my person and I’m going to worry about them. (Had I reason to believe that the other person was in need of my support for some reason, I’d offer that too, but even that is rooted in the idea that I am a proxy for the person doing the hurting and therefore share, in some ways, their obligations to those they hurt).

Unforgivable? Would you divorce your spouse if they did this? Stop talking to your mother?

This is tripping me up a little bit, because it seems to make a lot of assumptions about these things being linked together.

I think it seems normal for your family to be concerned about your nephew’s health and mood, because he is the person that you know, that you have a history with, that you are in contact with, that you will have a relationship going forward, etc.

I’m sure the family of the other driver IS less concerned, because surely those people are worried about their own family members. And, like you, they are able to provide more direct, tangible support to their own family members (whatever that looks like – bringing over a meal, taking care of errands, sitting with someone in the hospital).

It’s possible to be concerned both about your own nephew, and also about the other driver, probably in a more abstract way. Concern isn’t finite.

I would imagine your nephew, and his parents, are also feeling concern and remorse about the injuries of the other driver … but for whatever reason, are not sharing this aspect of the event with you and other extended family. Perhaps because it is too soon, perhaps because they feel strongly yet not comfortable discussing it with others … any number of reasons.