Accidents Abroad

Legal difficulties overcome to secure compensation for man seriously injured by uninsured driver during holiday in France

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Paul McClorry

Regional Director (Manchester)

4 min read time

Hudgell Solicitors’ travel litigation team had to overcome ‘numerous legal hurdles’ to secure a substantial damages settlement for a man badly injured when hit by an uninsured drunk driver in France.

The case posed many legal difficulties, with our team having to make representations to the French criminal court not to also handle the civil claim for damages, and instead allow the English civil court to deal with the case, where a better final financial settlement could be obtained for our client.

The man involved had sustained serious orthopaedic, head and psychiatric injuries, leaving him unable to work.

The accident also happened shortly before the UK was due to leave the European Union, causing a period of uncertainty over whether his claim would be able to be brought in England.

This was something our team ensured was considered, and acted quickly on in order to protect our client’s interests, issued court proceedings case in England before the “Brexit” date.

Paul McClorry, Head of Travel Litigation at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This was an accident which left our client with a string of very serious injuries, and both the nature of the accident, and the timing of it, made it very challenging for our team as we faced numerous legal hurdles to bring the case to a successful conclusion.

“Because it involved an uninsured driver who was over the drink-drive limit, the French criminal court initially wanted to handle the civil damages aspect too. However, we were concerned that this would have resulted in a lower final settlement for our client, due to the way such cases are decided in France, as well as practical difficulties.

“By using a combination of direct correspondence with the French criminal court, the British Embassy and by instructing a French solicitor, we were able to persuade the French criminal court not to award civil damages so that we were able to bring the claim in England.”

Compensation amount agreed at joint settlement meeting

Now, a substantial five-figure damages settlement has been agreed.

The case was ultimately settled by the English Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) – a non-profit-making company set up by motor insurers and which enters into agreements with the Government to compensate victims of motor accidents involving uninsured drivers.

They handled the claim, instead of the French Guarantee Fund (the French equivalent of the English MIB), as, at the time, they covered UK citizens involved in accidents with foreign registered vehicles, either in the UK or within the EU.

Liability was admitted by the MIB and, as French law still applied to determine the issues in the case, Hudgells obtained advice from a French lawyer in relation to contentious issues of causation and the value of the claim, as explained by Mr McClorry.

“This case was further complicated in terms of calculating the extent of long term injuries caused as our client had some not-insignificant pre-existing injuries before this accident, and he was also in receipt of significant benefits, which impacted on our ability to claim loss of earnings,” he said.

“We secured independent medical evidence from a range of consultants who were specialists in spinal surgery, neurology, neuropsychology, psychiatry and chronic pain, whilst the MIB also secured expert opinions from the same number of specialists.

“We were able to come to an amicable agreement at a joint settlement hearing, and secure an excellent final compensation payment for our client given the many challenges faced throughout the case.

“I think the final outcome was testament to the knowledge and ability of our travel team, who overcame so many challenges in this case to secure a fair and good settlement for our client.”

Specialists in Road Traffic Accidents Abroad Claims

Our travel litigation solicitors are experts in handling overseas personal injury claims, and will act on your behalf to bring a claim against those responsible for your accident.

We work with a network of lawyers across the world, and have settled claims for accidents involving cars, HGVs, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians — so you’re guaranteed expert legal representation whatever your circumstances.

Read more: Road Traffic Accidents Abroad

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