Sobering Horse Justice
I was 25 and I needed a good lawyer for the first time in my life. I called my mother for advice. She was in law school at the time, but she did what I expected her to do. As she barely contained her mirth, she ticked off all the aid she had recently bestowed on my four siblings - a car, medical school tuition, whatever, and so this just wasn't good timing (and so, I was flat out of luck). "But Mom, how can I find a good lawyer? [Subtext: what should I be doing now?]."
I made this long distance call lying on my bed with one foot on the floor and a cool wash cloth on my forehead. It had been three weeks since I hit five horses standing on a semi-rural road under a Full Moon. Returning from a friends' parent's house outside Nashville on a Sunday evening of dinner and TV watching, I was going 30 miles an hour max when my headlights trained on the horses, one turning his/her head as if to say, "So, you goin' to stop or what?" That horse flew up my hood, slammed into the windshield and slid off. In the darkness I could hear the other horses tsk tsking that pfffft sound.
Nine months later the only lawyer I knew had not been to the site a week before the court date wherein I sued the horses' owner for negligence. I had been advised to not take the settlement - $10,000, then $30,000, then $50,000. The jury was sympathetic. My story was solid and innocent, and I was a sort of well-known radio personality at the time, so they knew me. Still, the judge said that ultimately the case was out of his jurisdiction. My lawyer apparently hadn't figured out, in his zeal to win a judgment, that this was a State, not County, case. I would have to prosecute it from scratch at the State level and change the Constitution if I wanted "restitution". Frankly, at this point I was broke. And there would be no settlement now.
Walking to out of the courthouse, all I could hear was the choral Pachelbel's Canon in a negative key from the film Ordinary People (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081283/). And me thinking loudly - OH NO. Oh no.
At home I sat on my floor to figure out what credit debts had the highest interest rates and prioritized the order of paying them off, called some of them to get better terms, called my bosses to ask for a raise, and then spent the afternoon dismayed on a rocky forested hilltop at a local park.
About 10 years later my Mom asked about the case, whether she could still sue. I reminded her about the Statute of Limitations. "Oh."
I couldn't look at horses, in real life or depicted, for a long time. On the up side, I have excellent credit now. I hardly ever speak with my Mom.