Mr L was involved in a road traffic accident on in late 2011.
The circumstances of the accident were that Mr L was riding his bike along an A road following a car. The car indicated left and slowed down to turn off the A road in to a side road. A third party was waiting at that same junction to turn right onto the A road in the opposite direction to that in which Mr L was travelling. The third party did not see Mr L and pulled out of the side road cutting across his path and as a result Mr L collided with the third party.
The third party was prosecuted for the offence of careless driving and received 5 penalty points and was ordered to pay £65 costs, a fine of £150 and a victim surcharge of £15.
Notwithstanding that the third party was prosecuted in the criminal court, the third party’s solicitor denied liability citing a case of Woodham v Turner.
Medical evidence was obtained from a neurologist and the Defendant made an application for early disclosure of the Claimant’s medical records and accountancy evidence. Mr L’s then solicitor advised that these records should be voluntarily disclosed and as a result the Defendant’s solicitor was, in late 2012, able to put forward an offer to split liability on an 80:20 basis and to settle Mr L’s claim for £80,000.00. Court rules meant that in the event that these offers were not accepted and Mr L failed to obtain a more advantageous settlement at trial, he would be liable for the Defendant’s legal costs.
Neither of these offers were accepted by Mr L’s then solicitors who took no steps to act upon recommendations made by the neurologist for additional medical investigations to be undertaken. In the intervening period the Defendant’s costs continued to accrue increasing the risk posed by their offers.
In late 2013, 2 years after the accident and 1 year after the Defendant made offers to settle the claim, Mr L contacted Bikelawyer. Bikelawyer took over the conduct of the claim on a no win, no fee basis and brought pressure to bear upon the Defendant by obtaining additional medical evidence and setting out detailed arguments as to why Woodham v Turner should have no bearing on Mr L’s case.
As the 3 year anniversary of the claim was approaching court proceedings were issued but not served following which the Defendant’s solicitors agreed to attend a round table meeting where a negotiated settlement was agreed in the sum of £100,000.00 and with no liability having been attached to Mr L.
This case demonstrates not only the importance of appointing specialist motorcycle accident solicitors but also the dangers of an inexperienced lawyer agreeing to voluntarily release their client’s evidence at an inappropriate time thereby enabling the Defendant to limit their ability to fully investigate their claim by making substantial offers that attach cost risks to their client.