Ask Amy: Daughter’s injury tempts parents to sue

July 2, 2012

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend, “David,” and I are both 24 and have been dating for seven months. We met in graduate school, and we both have one more year to go as full-time, broke students.

David has a glass table in his apartment with a jagged broken edge. Last month, as I walked past the table I accidentally brushed against it and cut my leg, resulting in the need for six stitches in the ER.

David felt bad, but he doesn’t have any money, so there was no way he could offer to pay for my medical care. Despite my health insurance, the bill came today, and it was nearly $1,000. My parents paid for it as they promised to cover all of my health care costs until I finish school.

My mom was a lawyer, and she says that legally we could sue David for this if we wanted to because he shouldn’t have a dangerous table in his house. Mom knows that he doesn’t have any money but is angry that he hasn’t offered to pay for the cost.

My boyfriend is generally a wonderful and responsible person who cares about me, and besides this incident, we have an amazing relationship. I am really depressed over this situation and don’t know what to do.

I really want to stay in this relationship. Are my parents right to be concerned about his character? Or should they cut him a break? And what should I do about this? -- Worried

DEAR WORRIED: Accidents happen. And the answer when you have an accident isn’t always to sue someone, even if this is legally possible.

Your parents have stepped up and are fulfilling their agreement to cover your medical expenses, and you should be grateful for that.

If “David” is the wonderful guy you say he is, then surely he could demonstrate this by forthrightly acknowledging what happened, apologizing again to you and communicating with your folks about how awful he feels about the burden this has placed on them.

A sincere apology can often derail a litigious impulse.

He should also assure everyone that he has done his utmost to eliminate hazards from his living space.

DEAR AMY: I am the oldest of four sisters, all in our 40s and 50s. The third sister has decided that I am toxic and is bad-mouthing me to the second sister (whom she also has issues with).

This sister’s laundry list of complaints goes back decades. She is remembering long ago events differently than I am.

I cannot change how she feels about me but what can I do about her bad-mouthing me to other family members? I am upset that she could trash me to our elderly parents, cousins, etc.

She will not speak to me. What can I do? (I have not discussed this situation with anyone but my second sister.) -- Sad Sister

DEAR SISTER: When faced with someone who bullies you in absentia, the wisest course is to try to communicate with the perpetrator while rising above it, knowing you might not be able to change the other person’s behavior.

You are wise not to complain or gossip with your other sisters. Your bad-mouthing sister has denied you the opportunity to communicate directly with her — most likely because communication would interfere with her point of view.

You can only deny what isn’t true to other family members and state with honesty, “I am sad that she has chosen to do this, but there is nothing more I can do.”

DEAR AMY: “Awkward Mom” described herself as “introverted.” She worried about taking her young children to a coffee shop, where other people would try to speak to them.

Amy, in your answer you acted as if being introverted is something she needs to fix.

Being introverted is just the way she is. There is nothing “wrong” with this. -- Also Introverted

DEAR ALSO: Other readers felt I was treating introversion like a pathology. I agree that it isn’t. But I offered this mother some tools to help her children interact with other people, and I do feel strongly that it is important for this mother to try.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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