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Shoosmiths successfully concluded a claim for substantial compensation on behalf of a cyclist injured by a Range Rover on a country lane.
The 25-year-old was on a cycle ride with other members of his cycling club in August 2014. He was the fifth rider in a group of six cyclists riding along a country lane. This was a single carriageway road bordered on either side by high banks.
The Range Rover driving in the opposite direction came across the group of cyclists approaching at speed in a line. The car collided with his cycle and he suffered a serious head injury, requiring a hospital inpatient stay of some five weeks.
Even after his discharge from hospital, the young man continued to suffer from fatigue, anxiety, low mood and a lack of ambition. However, most troubling for him was the fact that he had no recollection of the accident at all as he was suffering from post-traumatic amnesia.
This gap in memory naturally disturbed him but also meant any civil claim faced complications since the evidence in favour of the claimant normally involves their own recollection of events.
Chris McKinney, a partner in Shoosmiths specialising in road traffic and cycle accident claims, was then instructed to seek compensation for our client’s injuries and damage to his bike, as well as help putting his life back together.
The defendant’s insurers denied all liability for the accident. Chris explains what this meant:
‘Since liability was denied, we had to get a lot more corroborative evidence for this case to support our version of how events must have taken place. We could not rely on the client’s recollection - he suffered from post-traumatic and retrograde amnesia and remembered nothing about the accident and its immediate aftermath. Witness statements obtained from the other five cyclists as well as the police accident report formed the bulk of the evidence to support the claim.’
This evidence may have described what happened, but would not explain how, on balance, the accident may have happened. Chris, therefore, had to instruct an accident reconstruction expert to attend the scene and prepare a report.
Given the unique circumstances of the claimant in this case, a collaborative approach was agreed with the defendant. Both parties would share the police accident investigation report and have access to the accident reconstruction evidence. Both sides would obtain the same neurological and neuropsychological evidence and agreed to hold a settlement meeting at an appropriate stage.
When the accident reconstruction expert’s report was ready, Chris instructed counsel and arranged a conference to discuss the report’s conclusions. That meeting was attended by our client and his parents, since although he was not a protected party he was considered to be a vulnerable young adult.
Counsel assessed the merits of the case and made comments and observations on the report, which would form a key part of the supporting evidence for the claim.
Meanwhile medical expert evidence was also obtained from a consultant neurologist and a consultant neuropsychologist. Their conclusions were exchanged with the other side as agreed and informed the preliminary schedule of loss – estimating the value of the claim.
However, a far more significant consequence of the medical evidence - and a more immediate priority for Shoosmiths - was facilitating our client’s recovery and making sure his rehabilitation needs were met, even before the legal process had begun.
An immediate needs assessment was organised under The Rehabilitation Code and a case manager was appointed to manage and oversee a comprehensive rehabilitation package. Regular reports were received from the case manager and ongoing treatment and rehabilitation was regularly reviewed with the family.
The defendant eventually made two offers of settlement: an offer of £50,000 which we advised our client to reject since it our view it undervalued his legitimate claim and an offer of £150,000 a year later. This second offer was made without prejudice and was time limited.
After some further negotiation and clarification of the offer, terms of settlement were agreed and on our advice, the sum of £150,000 was accepted in full and final settlement of his claim. Now, almost 29 years old, our client has gone on to make a good recovery from his injuries. He comments:
'Things are going well. I decided to leave my job and take a chance on myself. I started work at a new place and there is plenty of scope for responsibility and to grow with the company. Everything feels like we have gone full circle and I am back in control.'