I'm in trouble Con't'd

I went to a witnessed negotiation with the guy to take care of a car accident.

He thinks he’s negotiating, saying that either I pay 100,000 NT or he’ll sure me for 200,000 NT. Is this possible? He has proof of his incurred expenses as a result of the accident. The total, including medical expenses and lost pay, is around 100,000 NT.
After we determined this amount, we tried to determine the fault in the accident. He said that it was impossible that his lights were off, but then changed his story to say that his lights were only off because when I hit HIM, his hand “accidentally” brushed past the switch and turned the lights off. He also said he was wearing only a tonka-truck helmet and that’s why, although he was wearing it properly fastened, it fell off. He even had the nerve to say that I hit him, but changed his story when I asked why his scooter didn’t veer off into another direction as a result.

So now, even though he’s conceded some major responsibility for his injuries, he refuses to back down from 100,000NT. He has threatened that if I don’t pay up, he’ll sue me for 200,000 or more, to cover his “pain and suffering.”

I’m looking into getting some legal advice; it’s been really difficult to find someone locally who will have anything to do with a foreigner. In the meantime, can anyone tell me if what he’s threatening is just a bluff, or can he actually pull a number out of thin air? I know it’s possible at home but from what I gather the court system is different here.

It’s bluff.
Pain and suffering are pretty hard to get awarded here.
And, you have not said if the “costs” were covered by National Health Insurance. They almost certainly were (the medical) and you cannot sue for what you did not incur.
I assume you have no witnesses to this and that it is his word against yours.
Unless he has a lawyer friend who will work for free (almost none will – otherwise every lawyer would be working for friends), he can expect costs of NT$50,000 per court appearance and related paperwork (that was what I was quoted in my civil case in 1995). As the respondent, you can pretty much field what comes your way if you have a Chinese friend to translate and write some stuff if you need (like statements), but you shouldn’t need a lawyer (although it would be nice). He, on the other hand, will have to pay for a lawyer if he really is serious (is he?).
The key issue here is fault. You were where you should not have been. He was without lights and wearing improper headgear. He may have been speeding.
Take all the facts you know about the incident that could sully his argument (there must be more than what I just mentioned) and list them in Chinese. The next time you meet this dude, tell him in your opinion there is equal grounds for you to sue him and if he wants to take you to court, you will countersue – then give him the list.
A little counter-bluff could show them that you are no pushover (which is clearly what they think now).
Remember that the list could also include YOUR pain and suffering being in a foreign country and being hounded by these people. Keep a log. Write down the things they say and have witnesses to back it up. Intimidation is a crime too.
By the way, I would STRONGLY suggest that you not be intimidated by threats of legal action. Even if they won, which sounds unlikely, you would probably not have to pay nearly the NT$200,000 or even half that.
I would start putting down your statement with all the detail you can possibly think of – casting the situation in the most favorable light to you and the most unfavorable to him.

Should you need someone to proof it and give non-legal advice (I sued a person in civil court – after a criminal conviction) and won compensation), send me an e-mail at:

Don’t let this get you down.

The most you would get awarded here is damages to a vehicle and medical expenses. Forget about all the other fluff.

You can have a legal assistant discuss the case with you at no cost most of the time and I’ve had them field a phone call from the other party which is usually enough to turn the bluff around.

The other thing you might want to know is that in a civil case, if you the defendant has no legal counsel in any court appearance, the plaintiff’s lawyer isn’t allowed to speak on his behalf. I doubt if it will go that way though.

Wolf is right - don’t take that kind of nonsense. He thinks he’s hit the jackpot because you’re a foreigner. Tell him you won’t give him a penny. Let him prove every cent in court. Get on to your country’s representative - demand they fulfill their obligations to provide you with names of lawyers. Get onto your government at home, ask them why their “representative” is washing his hands of you. This guy is not going to court. And even if he does - he has a long and expensive road ahead of him, which he won’t take when he knows you are going to stnad up for yourself. Stop meeting him. Call his bluff.

Even in the states people use the same sorry line: “I’ll sue you for a million dollars” or “I’ll sue you for every penny you’ve got.” BFD. You can sue for any amount you want but you only get a judgment for those recoverable damages that you proved. I’m with the above posters – call his bluff.

Dear Nir,

I remember you mentioning that the boss of your buxiban was involved as well. What’s her viewpoint? A good lawyer is an excellent idea. Don’t concede anything, your chances are good. (Unless they send the mob after you)

Good lawyer? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Seriously, Holger’s right: do not concede anything. The guy’s obviously a bully trying to push you around. I wouldn’t be so certain that he could recover his lost wages even, much less any pain and suffering. Make him prove everything in court – liability and damages – unless he wants to settle for a reasonable sum.

Not admitting anything when you re in the wrong is normal here. Trying to unsettle the opponent by blaming him is also normal. It’s a ploy. A few vocal locals on your side would get the matter cleared up somewhat faster. You would still end up worse than a local would, but nothing you can do about that. Go through the courts, that’s the best chance you have for getting something roughly approaching justice. It might take up to a year though.

Agree with all the above.

The courts are chocked with cases and the guy sounds too small a fry to have the wherewithal to ratchet anything forward…then there’s his flimsy case.

Nonetheless, might be worth getting someone to check on this guy’s background. You’re in Tainan, right? Maybe your boss can make some enquiries for you on just who this sucker is and just what exactly he’s connected to. It could also have the added benefit of rattling his tree, which given the story so far sounds timely.


Thanks to some of my “hua qiao guanxi” I have been in contact with a lawyer (from Taipei).

He verified that this guy can not sue me for anything more than he can prove. I can’t believe what an idiot this guy was, to threaten me this way.

Another difficulty is that my boss wants to wash her hands of the whole deal by lending me enough money to pay him off. I’ve ended her involvement in my situation and sought other people’s assistance. Everyone, even a paid “impartial” translator is urging me to pay the guy and get him out of my hair. This is ridiculous. Nobody wants to tell me what my rights are, so this is why I want a lawyer.

The above statement is not correct. He can sue you for anything he wants in any amount he wants. I can sue you for $1,000,000 for pain and suffering allegedly caused by your above post. You can sue me for wasting your time with this reply. To sue someone just means to file a lawsuit in court. It does not mean you will win. So he can sue you for 200,000 if he wants, but the question is whether he will win that – whether a judge will agree that (a) you caused him damages by your wrongdoing and (b) he gives evidence showing that his damages amount to 200,000. That is where his problem lies, in proving (a) and (b).

Of course lawsuits are a pain in the ass for everyone, and that is one reason people settle. Not only is it a hassle for him, but also for you and your team. But if he is demanding an outrageous sum and you can hold off and refrain from paying, he has two choices: either settle for a lesser sum or sue you. If he really doesn’t want to sue he must settle. But you must convince your team to be strong and wait just a little longer till the bully comes down with his price. Patience.

Where did you come up with this so-called “translator” (I assume he’s doing oral interpretation for you on-site?) The FIRST tenet of interpreters’ ethics is that we have NO OPINIONS of our own especially in this kind of case. This guy sounds like a dead-brain amateur. Does he use “he says” when interpreting, too?? :shock: The “agency” you got him from needs to know what’s going on (of course, if it’s a typical Taiwanese outfit like “P****” [I won’t say the name] or somebody, they probably don’t care much…)

The only exception is medical interpreting when the interpreter uses his or her physical presence to offset the power differential between a poor or illiterate patient and the doctor, who has a lot of power and status in most cultures. And certainly it would be inappropriate for a medical interpreter to chime in, “Yeah, I think you should definitely have the operation…”!!!


I don’t think you need to say the name; anyone in the biz knows who you mean… :stuck_out_tongue:

What is wrong with “he said”? Works for me.

That’s probably the easiest way to tell the pros from the amateurs in this game, Wolf.

Professional interpreters do not speak in the third person. Interpreting is always done in the first person, using “I”, as though the interpreter were actually the voice of the speaker. Even if the speaker is a woman saying “What a difficult time I had when I was in labor with the twins,” a male interpreter should interpret that using the first person. There are quite a few reasons for this, the simplest being that things just get too confusing if you constantly use “he said” and “she said”. It is fatiguing for the listener, and it also adds an additional artificial distance from the speaker in a situation which already has a lot of artificiality in it to begin with. Plus, if you are interpreting for a group meeting where there are numerous changes of speakers, especially in Chinese which does not differentiate “he” and “she”…you can imagine the chaos that could result. Also, in SI (simultaneous intepreting) there is hardly enough time to do your job even using the first person; if you had to add on the whole “he says” thing to the beginning of every sentence, you’d go nuts.

The only time a professional interpreter does speak in the third person is if s/he is talkinig with his or her OWN voice for some reason during the proceedings: for example, “The interpreter says: the witness reports he does not understand the Chinese word ‘so-and-so’, which means ‘such-and-such’, but I know no other term to express this meaning.” Then you let the lawyers fight it out. :laughing:

Naturally this happens during consecutive interpreting much more than simultaneous, when you don’t really have time to comment on anything (except maybe the speaker’s horrendous choice of tie, but only with the ‘cough’ button firmly depressed and having tested it before the conference began!)

If you are in big trouble,take your own translator. Moreover, tell him that if he speaks one word to the other translator in other than English (or the language you specify) - he is fired! - Just an idea - it worked for me in Hong Kong in a business problem some years ago. My little knowledge of the language has shown me that you need to pressure the translator so he is on your side - and not his fellow translator’s side.

It might also stop them saying things like “my guy is angry” - " my guy is a sh*t" - and worse - that you cannot understand - and it if it is real serious - make sure they don’t go together to the toilet.