Don’t be an ostrich

We have a judgment against another lawyer because that lawyer filed a frivolous lawsuit against one of our clients. Because that lawyer is continuing to flout the legal system (there are some bad lawyers out there), we filed a motion with the court seeking additional sanctions and sent a copy of the motion to the lawyer by certified mail. The lawyer refused to accept delivery of the certified mail, and the envelope was returned to us unopened. That was unwise.

Many people think that if they refuse to accept a certified letter, they can claim ignorance of the letter’s contents and avoid consequences or responsibilities. That’s wrong. Under Georgia law (and likely the law of many other states), if you refuse to accept a certified letter, you can be charged with having knowledge of the letter’s contents. In other words, you can’t stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and hope the danger passes.

(Actually, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand when faced with danger. It’s a myth. They are not that dumb. Their kick can kill a lion and they can run at up to 40 miles per hour.)

If someone sends you a certified letter, accept it (or pick it up at the Post Office), open it, and read it. For all you know, it could be a letter from the executor of the estate of a long-lost relative who died and left you his fortune. It could also contain unpleasant information. But you’ll be far better off in the long run if you know the unpleasant information and confront it head on. An ostrich that sticks its head in the sand when confronted with danger gets eaten.

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