With poverty and the direct effects of austerity measures affecting countries worldwide, people are literally throwing themselves in front of passing vehicles in order to claim personal injury compensation. So prolific is the problem in Russia, that over 50% of vehicles now have dash cams installed, hence why so much footage of Russia’s dramatic meteor shower was caught on camera.
It’s certainly known about but I’ll have to ask my friends over there how widespread it is. In my day there, it didn’t seem to be that widespread and poverty has not altered all that much over the years in Russia.
There was one incident in which I was awarded the judgment and it was when a man walked into my car.
Obviously it’s smile-provoking, that concept but after I’d been breathalyzed and all those strips of tape on the road and measurements and all that had been done, after the assessor had examined my car, it became apparent that he had in fact done that.
Now whether it was deliberate or not, I’ve no way of knowing. I did think at the time that he was drunk and hadn’t seen me before stumbling onto the road.
What I do know is that once it came to tribunal, things had altered on the other side. A young gun lawyer [son-in-law it seems] had got onto them and saw foreigner=goldmine signs – take this foreigner to the cleaners was the idea.
What they hadn’t counted on was that I was offered a high-flying attorney by one of my clients for a one-off, a Russian attorney, plus the police/assessors had done their own investigation and had sent the results to the tribunal chairman.
Come the evening and I had my client plus the attorney on the end of the line if necessary. We went in, the other side gave their spiel, then the chairman started on me and asked some pretty curly questions, which I answered.
For example, why had I not immediately stopped but had gone another twenty metres – did I intend to take off? The assistance I rendered seemed to put paid to that, plus the witnesses, plus the report. I said that if I’d jammed the brakes on with him underneath – I didn’t know where he was – it might have caused far more damage. In our country, I said, you find the nearest safe place to pull over and park and then go and see what can be done.
He accepted it though it wasn’t their way and then started grilling the woman. My client translated that the other side were going for gold, so to speak. The chairman dismissed them out of hand and awarded me 100 roubles and they had a fine of 100 roubles to pay.
Outside after this, I asked the policeman what it did to my record and he pulled up my record on his screen, with us allowed to watch. It was clean other than this report. His manner was friendly but professional.
The woman came out of the room, having been haranguing the chairman and saw us there, came over and demanded to see the report on me on the file. He told her where to go.
We now made an error. My client said we should, in good faith, now it had been awarded to me, pay something for the man’s hospital stay and I asked what was appropriate, in roubles. We settled on a few thousand, which would have bought them food for a couple of months.
She was sitting down, waiting for a taxi and I went up and offered this. She was mightily surprised. My client said we were going past a bank on the way, we could drop her in to pay the fine and she said thanks and that she’d be picked up from there. I got into the hang of this and gave her the 100 roubles to pay it.
Next thing, the three of us were at the bank and it was paid. She now waited for her taxi and for some reason, we were still there. She phoned her lawyer in-law. We could hear the conversation about what I’d paid and had offered and he’d obviously thought it didn’t fit their narrative, as her reply was: “Dollars?” She laughed. “No, roubles.”
They were still going for gold. She now handed me the 100 roubles and said see you in court. You owe us for this, this and this. I replied that we could balance that against damage to my car which I’d had quotes on for about 20 000 roubles. However, I hadn’t pressed that until now but I’d see what now happened and if necessary, they could expect a letter from my solicitor.
We now phoned our attorney, he listened, said we shouldn’t have made the offer as he knew what this was about but it was right to remind her of the counter-claim. He concluded with a Russian expression: “You offered them xleb c maslom [bread with butter]; now they can eat gorchitsa [mustard].”
It never came to anything because she did not have a case, especially in the light of her behaviour, which my client translated some of to me. Plus we apparently did have a case under Russian law. I’d never have sued him because they were retired and on a pension.
In the light of my accident the other day, again it’s not my thing to sue, though it seems I have a case.
I had a meeting today where what I had been led to believe was a good working relationship took a turn I didn’t initially understand. It was only later at home, realizing the other party needed to look for anomalies under pressure from above that I could see what was happening.
The upshot now is that I’ll not be so open and friendly in the future with anyone at all, which means something is lost. Chuckles said recently that one definition of madness is repeating something, expecting a different result.
Inclined to agree with him. One tries to be friendly, tries to create an atmosphere but the moment you open up about yourself, the more you leave yourself open and if they have an agenda – then you’re vulnerable.
Yet to play it this way is a loss in itself. If people like this cause you to clam up, as they did in Russia in Soviet times, everyone watching everyone else, no one knowing who was going to turn whom in for what – that is evil, festering, that is sick.
And this today was nothing new, there was no new element, nothing extra either party did – except what was fine last week was not today. Fickle people are a caution, no doubt about it.