Lorna Buckwell, specialist PI lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) offices, has secured a settlement for a claimant who was injured in a road traffic accident and suffered whiplash and other soft tissues injuries.
The claimants in this PI claim were a 78-year-old man and his wife who were travelling together in their car along a main road in Kent. They approached a junction with another road at which they had right of way. Another vehicle drove across the junction into the path our client’s car and our client was unable to avoid colliding with them. Whiplash and soft tissue injuries were sustained by both of our clients.
We were instructed by way of a conditional fee (no win, no fee) agreement to pursue a claim for damages against the other driver alleging negligence in their failure to stop at the junction. The claim entered the pre-action protocol for low value personal injury claims in road traffic accidents, introduced by the Ministry of Justice in 2010. These are for claims which are valued up to £25,000 in compensation and are pursued by way of an online portal which covers three stages.
Liability for the accident was admitted at stage 1 of the process for both clients. Stage 2 of the process deals with settlement and so medical reports were obtained for both clients which enabled us to value their claims for damages for their pain and suffering. Both had suffered significant whiplash injuries and severe soft tissue bruising which, given their age, they found it difficult to recover from. Although the wife’s claim was settled at this stage (her claim included a sum for the travel anxiety she suffered for some time after the accident), the value of the husband’s claim was in dispute between us and the insurers, who valued it far lower than we assessed was fair and reasonable.
The matter therefore went to stage 3 of the process where the papers are sent to a County Court Judge for him to assess the award of damages. It is in effect a trial although no parties need to attend. The Judge is not told of the final settlement offers each party has made so that he is not swayed by their assessment. It is always a risk to go to trial in any litigation situation as there is always a possibility, no matter how strong the case is, that a Judge will find for the other party. However we were confident that the insurers had not offered enough to our client and the Judge agreed with our assessment of the case and awarded our client a much higher award of damages than that which had been the final offer made by the defendant’s insurers.
Lorna Buckwell specialises in personal injury cases. If you would like to ask Lorna question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any personal injury, contact Lorna on 01892 701148 in confidence.