Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mr. Magoo Syndrome: When is an Accident NOT an Accident?


I field a great many phone calls daily. So much of what attorneys do revolves around the psychology of understanding how people think. How do they think about different things, how do they view (see) the world, how do they perceive what is right from what is wrong, and how do they use their internal filters to make sense of events.

People and their psychology first held great interest to me as a Chiropractor. When treating patients with illness that had psychological overlays to physical ailments. Trying to gauge the psychology of juries, judges, prosecutors, and my clients is now especially important to me as a lawyer.

Being able to counsel people legally, defend their interests completely, and to help them solve and /or resolve their problems first involves me understanding how they tick (as in tick tock).

The Professional Driver

A recent call came from a trucker. This professional driver, remember truckers are paid to drive, being a PRO means that their level of driving needs to be way beyond the average man or woman on the street. Transporting thousands of pounds of cargo over many thousands of miles every day is a recipe for disaster if they are not sharp and focused on their job (driving).

He had received an unsafe lane change ticket (violation) in on a busy New York State Highway. He was seeking representation and my legal opinion.

When someone calls me I need to first get the details of the event/incident/arrest/charges. I basically wanted to know what happened and how it happened.

One of my first questions of any traffic violation matter is "was there an accident?"
He answered, NO. Further along in our conversation he told me that he FORCED a car off the road. What? He had changed into their lane of travel, and was coming at them head on. They went into a tree but in his mind this was NOT an accident. He did not TOUCH their car. They did not DAMAGE his truck. In HIS MIND there was NO accident. I thought, WOW! The psychology of people, the depth of denial, and the shear craziness of irrational thinking.


Mr. Magoo Syndrome

I like to call it Mr. Magoo Syndrome. For those of you too young to remember, Mr. Magoo was a visually challenged (wore very thick glasses) cartoon character in the 1960s. In these days of political correctness he would never be on TV. Making fun of the blind, or the incredibly near sighted is bad. In the 1960s and 1970s everyone was open game. We laughed and made fun of everyone. Anyway, Mr. Magoo drove around recklessly causing mayhem and chaos in his wake. He was oblivious to his surroundings, his driving, and what he had caused. Funny, and oh so charming Mr. Magoo never even knew what he did (caused) because he never looked back. People got into accidents, fell off buildings, got hurt moving and jumping out of his way, and in this cartoon world NO ONE died and there was no visible blood or gore.

Touching as an Element of a Crime or Responsibility

MUST cars or trucks or people touch to cause harm?

Even if cars and/or trucks DO NOT touch one another, running someone off the road, or losing your cargo and/or causing a pile up, or forcing someone into a ditch or a tree is Causing an Accident. You are responsible for the property damage and the physical injuries IF Your negligence or recklessness causes another car to crash. You are ultimately responsible for all your commissions or omissions.

If you swing a bat at someone's head and they duck and hit something, YOU are responsible. Even if you DO NOT TOUCH Them!! If you run after someone, threaten them with physical immediate harm, and they run into the street and they get hit by a car, Guess what? YOU are responsible. You are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of your actions.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., Esq.

Ithaca, NY