Mr M was cycling along the cycle path of the Watford By-Pass heading South when without warning a car exited a car wash and cut across the bicycle lane hitting Mr M’s bicycle in the back wheel which caused him to fall from his bike. As a result of the fall Mr M suffered a personal injury to his wrists, left elbow, left hip, knee, lower leg and ankle, left shoulder, neck and left hand. The bicycle received damage to the rear wheel and gears. An ambulance was called and Mr M was taken to Frimley memorial Hospital for treatment. The people working in the car wash were witnesses to the accident and they all stated that none of the cars stop for bikes they assume they can just drive across to the edge of the road.
Looking to make a personal injury compensation claim
Mr M wanted compensation for his personal injuries and to pay for his damaged bike to be repaired so searched on-line for a personal injury solicitor and found Hayward Baser Personal Injury Solicitors website and decided he would call them to see if they could help.
After talking to one of Hayward Bakers Personal Injury experts Mr M decided he would like them to act for him in his pursuance of personal injury compensation. Mr M explained the accident circumstances to Hayward Bakers Legal Team and they said that they would be happy to take on his case. They then went on to explain fully how a personal injury claim works and what is involved in terms Mr M could fully understand.
Making the personal injury claim
Once his solicitor had received Mr M’s signed paperwork they wrote to him and explained what the next steps were. As the current value of the claim was under £25,000.00 he was informed that the claim would be running under a scheme know as the “Pre-action Protocol for low value personal injury claims”.
In accordance with the scheme his solicitor sent the Claims notification Form (CNF) to the other parties insurers. The other party now had 15 days to respond to the form. Should the other party fail to respond within the time limit, denies liability, alleges that the claim is worth less than £1,000.00 or makes an admission of liability with an allegation of contributory negligence (argument that Mr M is partially responsible), then his claim will exit this scheme. If this occurs his solicitor will notify him at that stage advising him how best to proceed with his claim.
The allegations made to the other party were:
The reason why we are alleging fault is that the Defendant:-
a) failed to heed the presence of the Claimant
b) failed to keep a proper lookout
c) failed to stop, to slow down, or to steer, manage or control the van so as to avoid a collision
d) drove too close to the Claimant to stop in time or at all
If the other party admits liability for the accident, within the time limit, then Mr M’s claim will proceed under the above scheme and the next step will be to obtain medical evidence to substantiate the injuries that were sustained in the accident.
The medical evidence will enable his solicitor to demonstrate those injuries that he sustained in the accident and it would be helpful if he could provide his solicitor with a written update in relation to his current symptoms. he was then asked to confirm the following:
- Does he still suffer symptoms as a result of the accident,
- If so, what are these symptoms,
- Is he still having treatment at hospital or with his GP
- Is he still taking medication
Special damages (out of pocket expenses)
Mr M was given a copy of Hayward Baker’s Out of Pocket Expenses Questionnaire with his initial paperwork. He was asked to return this to his solicitor. If his financial losses were ongoing it was suggested that he keep a note of any such expenditure such as travelling expenses, prescription charges, damaged clothing etc. He was told to send this information as soon as possible since a delay in providing his solicitor with this information could delay his claim.
Shortly after the CNF was posted on-line the other parties insurers called Hayward Baker and stated they would be dealing with the claim and liability would be admitted.
The insurers letter arrived at Hayward Baker the same day and Mr M was informed that the insurers have confirmed that liability is not in dispute and this meant that provided that the medical report confirms Mr M were injured as a result of the accident, the insurers have agreed to pay him compensation, his solicitor will of course discuss with him the level of compensation after receipt of the medical report.
Hayward Baker now asked that Mr M provide them with a written update in relation to his current symptoms as set out below:
- Does he still suffer symptoms as a result of the accident?
- If so, what are those symptoms?
- Is he still having treatment at the hospital or with you GP?
- Is he still taking any medication?
Offer to settle the personal injury claim received
In addition, his solicitor advised him that they had received an offer from the Defendant’s insurer to settle his claim for the sum of £1,500.
The offer is made in full and final settlement of the claim and what is know as a ‘Pre-Med Offer’. Therefore, if Mr M accepts it, his solicitor will not be able to obtain a medical report fully detailing his injuries. Further, he would not be able to return to the insurer at a later date for further compensation.
Mr M had 21 days to decide whether to accept the offer. After this date the Defendant may, any time until it is accepted, withdraw the offer or change its terms so it is less advantageous to Mr M.
Mr M’s solicitor explained was difficult for then to advise him upon the reasonableness of this offer without the medical evidence to confirm the exact nature and duration in relation to the physical injuries that he has sustained.
It may be that the claim is worth more than the current offer once the medical report is received however there is no guarantee and it could be worth less than the current offer.
What happens if the offer is accepted
If Mr M accepts the offer the case will come to an end.
What happens if the offer is rejected
If Mr M decides to reject the offer then his case will continue and Hayward Bakers legal team will obtain medical evidence to support his injuries so that his solicitor can provide him with more advice as to the likely financial value of his claim.
His solicitor stressed that if the medical evidence indicates a financial value in the region of the current offer of £1,500, he would not then be entitled to any further compensation simply on the basis that he waited for that evidence. The financial value of his claim is based on the injuries he sustained and how long they take to resolve, not the duration of the claim itself.
Mr M was asked to note that if he proceeds to issue court proceedings and at trial the court awards him a sum less than or equal to the insurers offer, or he accepts an offer later that is less than or equal to their offer, then he may be ordered to pay some of the Defendant’s costs.
With the above in mind,Mr M was asked telephone his solicitor on receipt of this letter to discuss the offer, or if he simply wished to accept the offer now then he was asked to complete and return to his solicitor the attached form.
Mr M called his solicitor as requested and said that he did not want to settle now as he was still suffering with his wrist and elbow injury and that the wounds keep opening up and would definitely leave a scar. He was also going to have some x-rays taken to see what the problem with his wrist was.
Hayward Baker Solicitors informed the insurers that Mr M was not going to accept the offer and they would now be obtaining medical evidence.
Hayward baker organised a medical appointment for Mr M to be examined by a General Practitioner. If, when he received the appointment letter Mr M realises that he has previously seen the Doctor for treatment either on the NHS or privately he was to let his solicitor know as soon as possible. the appointment may need to be cancelled as it may not be appropriate for a Doctor who has previously seen him to author the medical report.
Receipt of medical report in relation to personal injury claim
Four weeks after his medical appointment Mr M’s solicitor received the medical report and after reviewing it wrote to Mr M explaining what happens next.
His solicitor stated in their letter that they have now received the medical report and enclosed a copy. Mr M was asked to please read the report carefully. If he was satisfied that it is accurate and includes all matters that he wishes to be considered would he sign and return the attached certificate confirming this.
Should there be any parts of the report that he is unhappy with, or if he felt there are any aspects not covered he was to confirm the details to his solicitor in writing and they will raise these on his behalf with the medical expert.
in the medical experts opinion the symptoms to Mr M’s left wrist will resolve to a pre-accident state within 4 months from the date of the consultation and the right wrist by 3 months. In this respect, Mr M needed to decide whether he wished Hayward Baker to disclose the personal injury medical report to the third party at this stage and invite settlement offers or, if he was concerned that his recovery will be longer than the expert’s prognosis, he may wish to wait and see how his progress is over the coming months with the possibility of obtaining a further report once the estimated recovery period has expired.
The medical expert has recommended physiotherapy in order to help facilitate Mr M’s recovery to his wrists. His solicitor was already talking with the defendant insurers to arrange this.
Hayward Baker also enclosed the schedule setting out Mr M’s losses that they have details of to date. If there were any additional expenses that he would like his solicitor to include he was asked to pass the full details with receipts and supporting vouchers wherever possible. he was asked to note that he is signing a statement of truth confirming the facts in the witness statement are true. Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person if he makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.
Mr M read the report and signed the authority to say he was happy with it and it could now be disclosed to the insurers and he asked that his solicitor to now value his claim for personal injury compensation and out of pocket expenses.
Valuing the personal injury claim
Mr M’s solicitor had now valued the claim on the basis of the prognosis given by the medical expert in the medical report. The solicitor wrote to Mr M saying they have reviewed the available evidence to make an assessment of what they consider to be the appropriate level of compensation to be claimed from the Defendant. The advice is as follows:
Compensation will be assessed by the Court under two main heads.
1. Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
The Court will award compensation to reflect pain, suffering and loss of amenity resulting from the injuries. The award of compensation under this main head is sometimes termed ‘General Damages’.
The assessment of compensation by the court will be made, to a large extent, on the medical evidence. That assessment will be based on this individual case, as each claim is unique. Nevertheless, some guidance on the appropriate level of compensation can be obtained from previous cases and guidelines and that enables an estimate to be made of the likely award if the matter had to be decided by the Court.
I consider the Court would be likely to award damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity in the region of £2,000 to £2,500.
2. Expenses and losses
The Court will also assess compensation for quantifiable expenses and losses resulting from the injuries. The award will reflect sums which are reasonably claimed and can be shown to have been caused by the injuries. The compensation awarded under this head is sometimes termed ‘Special Damages’.
Mr M was asked you to bear in mind that the calculation of expenses and losses they have prepared puts forward his case on the most reasonably optimistic basis possible at this stage. Whilst it is right to put the case at its best it is likely that the Defendant will argue lower figures are appropriate on certain aspects of the claim. Accordingly, Mr M will need to keep an open mind on the level at which a settlement might be achieved should sensible proposals be put forward by the Defendant. His solicitorwill advise further on this as and when the Defendant responds to the calculation.
The enclosed Schedule of Special Damages amounts to the total sum of £1,059.11. In relation to the damaged items, the insurers will not pay new for old as they will argue that the damaged items will still have residual value which will need to be accounted for. However, Mr M’s solicitor will review this further pending the Defendant’s response.
The advice given to Mr M in the solicitors letter is made on the basis of the Defendant being fully liable for the injuries. An apportionment of liability means a reduction in the figures given, by an equivalent percentage, to allow for that apportionment.
The Defendant has, however, admitted liability in full.
- ATE Insurance
Mr M took out an insurance policy to indemnify him against the risk of losing his case this amount will be deducted from any compensation awarded.
- Hayward Baker’s fee
Mr M was reminded under the terms of his agreement with Hayward Baker, if there is a shortfall between the amount of your total legal costs and the legal costs that I can recover from the Defendants, then you will have to pay these out of your compensation (subject to a maximum deduction of 25% from your compensation).
Taking the above into account Mr M’s solicitor believes that they should make a formal global offer to settle in the sum of £4,000, on the basis that the Defendant will inevitably try and knock this down. Hayward Baker will of course come back to Mr M with their response on the offer once it has been made.
If Mr M was happy with the above proposal he was asked to please to sign and return the enclosed authority to proceed as suggested. Alternatively if he would like to discuss this with his solicitor then please give Hayward Baker solicitors a ring
Mr M had also told the insurers rehabilitation people that he did not want the physiotherapy treatment which his solicitor now asked if he could confirm whether he did say this.
Mr M did not want physiotherapy treatment as he had now had this arranged by the NHS so Hayward Baker informed the insurers of this and also that Mr M was due an MRI scan after which his solicitor would provide medical evidence. In the meantime Mr M has requested an interim payment for the cost of his bicycle and damaged equipment. The interim payment was less than a thousand pounds for the bike and equipment and the insurers were asked to pay this.
Once the insurers had established the age of the bike and its current worth they paid the interim payment.
The defendant insurers had now received updated copy medical records from Mr M’s GP and so made an offer of £5,000.00 for settlement of his claim.
Mr M’s solicitor advised him of the offer to settle for £5,000.00 and he accepted this in full and final settlement of his claim.