Sunday, June 13, 2010


I got run over on my motorcycle back in the summer of 1982. Actually, she didn't run me over, she lurched out from behind a stop sign and then slammed on her brakes when she was right in front of me. A panicked reaction, I suppose, to seeing me bearing down on her.

There was no stop sign in my direction, hence I hadn't stopped. I stopped pretty quickly, though, when I ran into her right front fender, followed by a graceless landing on the hood of her car. My only injury was a sprained ankle caught on the handlebars as I flew over. Pretty lucky, all things considered.

Her insurance company was happy that I settled for a new helmet and a new motorcycle. I never gave much thought of trying to bleed someone dry just so I could become an instant millionaire. My mama didn’t raise me that way. A lawsuit is fine when warranted, but too many people want to turn it into some sort of lottery.

Take, for example, the lady pedestrian from Southern California who got hit by a car in Utah earlier this year. Drivers must always be diligent and avoid running over humans, of course. It doesn’t matter who has the right of way, it is just a matter of flesh vs. steel. Flesh will always lose.

Hence, our victim has a legitimate complaint against the fellow who was driving the car that ran into her. Her medical bills ought to be fully paid for, and even perhaps a little for pain and suffering. Not enough to finance her for the rest of her life (being in her mid-20s after all), but something to make sure she gets back on her feet and back to work after being medically cleared to do so.

Oh. Wait. She was unemployed. Maybe we should say “on her feet and back to her couch,” where she could play video games all day and eat leftover pizza.

I wonder if that's why she might be trying to turn this unfortunate incident into a windfall. She claims she was advised by Google Maps to take this particular path between two points in Park City, and it turned out to be a dangerous street, and she was hit, and so she is owed something. She is suing the guy who hit her, which makes sense. That should cover the basics.

But she is also suing Google, probably because they have the deep pockets. No doubt her lawyer encouraged her to do so, what with the astronomical legal fees that will be generated during the case. Photographing sidewalks that don’t exist, interviewing potential wildlife witnesses, and coming up with new and clever ways to blame the blameless. It’s a big job for the lawyer!

Usually when you get walking routes on Google Maps it says something like “use caution – this route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.” Our hapless victim claims it didn't do so on the particular technological toy she was using. Even so, how stupid do you have to be?

When the street looks dangerous, you don't walk down it. If you do, you do what you can to avoid a problem. If there is a problem, the right people have to be held accountable.

In this case, that isn't Google.

Makes me think of the “never again” claim. Every time something bad happens, the ones with the ridiculous lawsuit cry “never again!” They’re not doing it for the money (they say); it is the only way to get the attention of the evil and corrupt corporations and other evil and corrupt entities. It is the only way to protect the little citizen-people.

In this case, our pummeled pedestrian and her attorney are trying to prevent anyone else from ever getting run over after following Google Maps’ walking directions, and they claim that the punitive damages will help. They don’t know how much that will be at this point, because the poor woman continues to suffer physically and emotionally from the trauma of being run over while walking on a highway.

As soon as they have a price, I’m sure we’ll hear of it. And it will be obscenely large and, if won in court, will certainly help the plaintiff’s lawyer buy a new vacation home (maybe in Park City, Utah!). To a limited extent it would help the plaintiff as well (maybe she could buy a car and stop being such a foolish walker). Hopefully, though, the case will be laughed out of court by a laughing judge.

But even if she wins and Google has to write her a check, you can be sure that some time, somewhere, it is going to happen again. You just can’t prevent the stupid people from doing something stupid.

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