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A bit of context: I had about four months ago a motorbike accident with a car who was at fault (cut me off). During the time I was waiting for the emergency services to arrive and take care of me, I learned that the car's owner's workplace is a few hundred meters away from mine.

Now in the event of an accident with a coworker I know, how should I handle the resulting relationship? Let's imagine he was driving badly (e.g. changing lanes fast not using blinkers). I wouldn't trust someone not respectful of others on the road, especially if he/she injured me...

It might be linked to this question

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    Is it just a impression or there have been LOTS of hypothetical questions here this week? – undefined Mar 14 at 10:31
  • How is this a workplace question? How you handle a traffic accident is the same regardless of who is involved or where they work. – joeqwerty Mar 14 at 12:16
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    @joeqwerty The way I read it, he's asking how to manage the working relationship after the accident is dealt with. ie: how to look a co-worker in the eye and do business with them after such a traumatic event between the two. I'm not sure how well this sort of "office politics" question fits on the site in general (especially without a more specific goal than "continue working together") but it seems to me the question is at least focused on how to navigate the workplace environment, rather than how to handle the accident itself. – Steve-O Mar 14 at 13:24
  • Trust them to do what? Are you suggesting that someone's ability to drive is somehow connected with their ability to, say, make a spreadsheet correctly? – Clay07g Mar 14 at 20:50
  • Steve-O has it. My concern is how to handle the working relationship. As accidents are often pretty traumatic, I doubt there would be no consequences on interactions (unconscious ?). Clay07g, the problem wouldn't be their ability to make a spreadsheet, rather the ability to follow rules and respect others. I can't help but make a link between people not following rules while driving and people not following rules in the work context. – z3r0 Mar 15 at 16:20
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If you interact with persons, you will always (subliminal) use all information you have about this person. Professionalism means here, that you are aware of this, think twice and willful use only work-relevant information.

It is clear: if you "wouldn't trust someone not respectful of others on the road", you will look closer at the behavior of this person, so you can decide if this attitude (not respectful of others) influence the work of this person (not only output, relations on workplace too). But until you find some work-related evidence for this absence of respect, you should do nothing in work environment.

In private (for example, if there is a beside work relationship to this person, maybe caused in the accident) you can talk with this person. Maybe the person was in hurry, or had other reasons you can understand/accept (it is a difference between understand and apologize). In this case your relation (private and work) will relax after the accident. This could be worth the trouble.

In my opinion if nobody talks about lack of respect for others, then nothing will change in this persons mind.

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Now in the event of an accident with a coworker I know, how should I handle the resulting relationship?

If it was an accident (i.e., unintentional), then your relationship should stay the same.

It's reasonable to be angry for a short time, accidents by definition are unintentional, so you should get over it.

  • The police tend to be of the opinion that they find very few accidents - it’s usually down to one or the other party not focusing on the job in hand ie driving and being aware instead of texting, or looking at a shop window etc etc – Solar Mike Mar 14 at 11:58
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You should treat your colleague no differently.

Handle whatever situation has occurred outside of work, but don't mention it within work. Don't discuss it at work, or on work property, or with colleagues. It has nothing to do with work.

Speak to your HR department and see if they would like to be aware of the situation. If they say that it has nothing to do with work, then leave it at that. Some HR departments may want to be aware of this situation, in order to be aware of any potential issues down the track.

If you were on-the-clock at the time, maybe travelling between worksites, you probably have an obligation to report the incident.

Part of being a professional is being able to handle situations where you may not get along with someone else, or there may be some property of the person that doesn't sit well with you.

If you don't feel like you can handle the situation professionally, you should raise this with your HR department. Note that this doesn't mean that they will transfer the other party to a different office/location. What is more likely that you will be moved about.

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