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Her son had been staying at a residential caravan park where he was struck by a Nissan Micra. He sustained multiple chest and abdominal injuries and died in Worcestershire Royal Hospital four days after the accident.
The Micra driver (who would later become the first defendant in our case) was convicted of manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol and without insurance at Worcester Crown Court some two years later and sentenced to nine years' imprisonment.
This tragic situation not only affected the deceased's mother. At the time of the accident our client's son had a seven-year old daughter and although not married to the girl's mother he had financially supported his child by way of regular cash payments to her mother and paid for other activities the little girl took part in outside school.
Sara Hunt, a partner with Shoosmiths specialising in personal injury claims said:
'We were instructed by the deceased's mother in her capacity as executor of the estate and on behalf of her granddaughter. We acted on a no-win-no-fee basis. Our first step was to try and obtain a copy of the police accident report from West Mercia Police, but despite our repeated requests the report was not forthcoming so we had to investigate alternative ways of getting the information we needed.'
The fact that the driver had been uninsured meant that we also needed to involve the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) as the second defendant. The MIB is a 'fund of last resort' to compensate the victims of negligent uninsured and untraced drivers. The Road Traffic Act 1988 obliges every provider of motor insurance in the UK to be a member of the MIB and to contribute to its funding.
If liability is established, the Motor Insurers' Bureau is restricted to paying compensation for property damage or injury sustained either on a road or a public place in accordance with the Road Traffic Act 1988 and that restriction was later to become crucial to this case.
Meanwhile we urgently went about the business of compiling all the evidence, financial statements and other information we'd need to properly estimate the value of the claim and prepare the particulars of claim and claim form.
Court proceedings were subsequently commenced against the first defendant and the MIB. The first defendant was served with the court proceedings in prison. The MIB's initial defence relied on the assertion that the caravan park where the accident took place was not a public road or a public place and they therefore had no liability in this instance.
'As a result of this issue it therefore became even more important to obtain the police accident report, which had still not been disclosed by the police after almost a year and a court order was obtained instructing them to do so.'
We therefore obtained a transcript of the earlier criminal proceedings because, if the police had investigated the issue of whether of not the accident occurred in a public place, their conclusions revealed during the trial would greatly assist our case.
A planned case management meeting had to be adjourned because of the judge's ill health and the second defendant (the MIB) made an application to amend its defence, raising the issue of contributory negligence (i.e. that our client's son somehow shared some of the blame for the accident that killed him despite the fact that the driver of the vehicle had been convicted of manslaughter).
If the court accepted this application by the MIB that would have a far reaching effects on our case and the evidence we had obtained. It was therefore imperative that we made all the necessary preparations to obtain the extra evidence required in order to counter that possible argument.
A period of tough negotiation followed to agree the value of the claim on behalf of the estate and the dependancy claim on behalf of the daughter. A settlement was agreed and since an element of the claim was in respect of a minor, it was necessary for there to be an approval hearing to release the funds.
Despite the tragic loss of her son and the other complications which meant it had taken persistence and effort as well as time to get the right result importantly for her granddaughter, our client was more than happy with the outcome. She concludes:
'Sara Hunt is a lovely lady and was so professional throughout the case. No-one could have done more for us in very difficult and upsetting circumstances.'
Any sort of personal injury can have devastating consequences, especially if it results in a fatality. We have a great deal of experience in these matters and you'll find us sympathetic and glad to discuss the options available to you. Call our client services team on 03700 868 686 for a free initial consultation.