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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Posted 9:54 AM by Kelly
What Would Jesus's Lawyer Advise?
My sister is a 24-year-old free spirit with a kind heart. Her '90 Honda has been acting up and so for the past couple of weeks she has been driving my parents' mini-van, as they are out of town. (For those who don't know, the mini-van may not be a sexy car to drive, but it has quite a bit of get-up-and-go!) I recently learned that a few days ago, on her way back from a bowling trip with one of her friends and my daughter, she picked up some hitchhikers from the side of the road.
OK, I made it sound worse than it was. It was a Hispanic woman and her 3 young children. And my sister insists that they were not hitchhiking, they were just walking along Keystone Ave and she offered them a ride. (She has made many friends in Indy's rapidly growing Mexican population - she is nearly fluent in Spanish as a result - and is eager to help members of this community in any way that she can.) She drove them home without incident.

I think this was a wonderful thing to do. However, I think this was a dangerous choice. First of all, I am a bit paranoid and there is the remote possibility that one of these seemingly harmless folks could have hurt my sister or my daughter in some way. That unlikely event aside, I worry about the legal implications. The minivan has only 1 of 2 back benches in it at the moment. This means that 3 of the 4 strangers were sitting on the floor of the van. Can you guess what I picture? Yes - a fatal car collision where the Hispanic woman survives and sues my sister or my parents for wrongful death. None of the kids were in seats, much less seatbelts.

My sister makes her own choices but in this case she is involving other people's lives - and money. I don't know much about auto insurance - couldn't my parents be held responsible in such a situation? Even if not, they would wind up helping my sister out in any way that they could.

Do I worry too much?

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