We recently settled a claim for a client who had been left paralysed by a bike accident. She had come to us because her previous solicitor was clearly out of his depth and was unsure how to proceed with the case.
It was not without its difficulties. The client had ridden her motorbike out of a junction joining onto a main road. She was naturally cautious as a rider and could not really remember how or why the accident had occurred. She was struck by a car from her offside and sustained serious spinal injuries.
The Defendant’s insurers denied liability. It was their stance that their client had right of way and the duty was on our client to take care when pulling out into the main road, something which she had failed to do.
The accident was not witnessed but there were witnesses to the aftermath. One of these, Miss A, proved key.
The Defendant knew her and said he had seen her jogging ‘about 200-300 yards back’ from the junction. After seeing her and recognising her, he waved to her but she did not return his wave.
Miss A’s evidence was that she was out jogging and ‘had only gone a few yards from the junction’ when she initially saw the Defendant. The fact she was fairly close to the junction was backed up by the fact that:
- She heard the impact – this was despite the fact that she had headphones on;
- She was able to see well into the junction from the point where she turned around post-impact.
We obtained evidence from an expert in Accident Reconstruction. He analysed the scene, the available evidence and the damage to the vehicles. Whilst accepting a degree of liability on our client’s part, he concluded that:
- Our client would have been visible to the Defendant for several seconds as he and she approached the junction;
- There was no reason for him to be looking other than forwards, including into the mouth of the junction;
- It would have been clear to him had he been looking in this direction that our client was unlikely to stop at the ‘give way’ line;
- Had he reacted quickly, he could and should have braked to avoid the impact entirely;
- Even had he reacted slightly less quickly, he would have hit her at a much-reduced speed, which would, in all probability, have resulted in greatly reduced injuries;
- The evidence suggested that the driver was distracted by Miss A, at a point much closer to the junction than he had claimed, and that this distraction had caused him not to see our client approaching.
The Defendants maintained their denial of liability but agreed to settle the claim in the sum of £625,000. This was much less than the full value of the claim but nevertheless a significant sum of money for the client, who was delighted with the outcome.
This case highlights the reasons why complex cases require specialist, professional solicitors. The previous firm had no idea how to progress the claim or what to do with it and as a result, they had largely ignored the claim for almost a year.