A five-figure damages settlement has been secured for a woman who was hit by a car when crossing a road, despite the driver never admitting being at fault. The woman, 41 at the time, fractured her spinal vertebrae in the accident, which happened in December 2017.
FULL CASE STORY:
A woman who suffered a broken back when hit by a car has urged others injured in road accidents to ensure they secure names and numbers of witnesses, after the driver and his insurers denied being at fault for her injuries.
It was only after CCTV footage, secured from the owner of a nearby building, showed ‘a limited view’ of the accident, including the car straddling the centre line of the road, that a compensation settlement was offered.
Mother of two Mrs Taylor, was thrown several feet across Saville Row, London, following impact as she headed to work on foot just three days before Christmas in 2017.
She fractured her spinal vertebrae in the accident, and has now accepted a five-figure damages settlement for her pain and suffering, having taken legal action through Hudgell Solicitors’ personal injury claims team.
She says she was in a state of shock in the moments after the accident, and didn’t think to ask onlookers and those that came to her aid to provide witness statements.
However, she says she would now act very differently if she found herself in the same situation again.
“It has been very frustrating and quite upsetting at times as I know that I checked the road before stepping out and nothing was coming. All of a sudden I was then struck from behind and on my right side as I walked diagonally across the road,” said Mrs Taylor, now 43.
“The next thing I knew I was on the road and unable to move. The driver got out of his car, holding his mobile phone and we exchanged a few words in shock. He then got back into his car to move it, leaving me in the road. He never apologised or showed any sort of remorse.
“There were plenty of people around at the time, but when something like that happens you don’t think about asking for names and numbers.
“I didn’t think there would be any matter to dispute as I was in the middle of the road when I was hit. I was just in shock and pain and was just glad somebody called an ambulance.”
Mum was left in back brace in pain for months
Determined not to let the accident completely ruin her Christmas, Mrs Taylor returned home the following day and remained in her bed throughout the festive period, but at least she was with her husband and two young sons.
She was in a brace for several weeks and had a month off work. She says physio and rehab was still painful months after, and even today, despite making a good recovery, she can still feel her back has not fully recovered.
She said: “I was told that the impact of the collision had shattered my tenth and eleventh vertebrae, and for that to happen it must have been a big impact, so he must have been going at a decent speed. They had shattered into tiny pieces but were only minimally displaced, so the brace was the best option.
“I was determined to try and go home from hospital that same day in a wheelchair but was not well enough so had to wait until the following day. Christmas at home was basically around me in the bedroom of our flat.
“I am quite a fit person but it was agony in physio for months afterwards and I couldn’t bend down to reach my knee. I also work now in an office job and I have a sit stand desk, but I can’t do either for too long. It has had an impact long term.”
Liability was denied throughout but five figure damages secured
Despite the injuries suffered, liability was denied by insurers acting on behalf of the BMW driver throughout investigations.
“The driver instructed a lawyer immediately, so I don’t think he ever considered taking any blame,” added Mrs Taylor.
“I know the police reviewed the CCTV and they decided that it wasn’t conclusive enough to warrant criminal proceedings, which I can understand as they have plenty on their hands and bigger issues to chase.
“However, for there to still be no admission of being at fault, despite the CCTV showing the car to be across the centre line, was really upsetting and left me quite angry.
“I have always lived by holding my hands up to any mistakes I’ve made, but I guess not everybody is like that. Given what has happened to me, I certainly advise others to do their best to get names and numbers of all witnesses if possible, and even take pictures.
“Thankfully one of the local business owners agreed to hand over his CCTV footage when I asked around. That really helped.”
Jane Woodcock, head of personal injury at Hudgell Solicitors, said it had been a difficult case because of the lack of witnesses and the approach of the defendants.
“This was a serious accident and although Mrs Taylor suffered a significant injury as it was, it could easily have been much worse, as many accidents involving pedestrians are,” she said.
“Whatever the dispute over liability, quite simply a car should not be striking a pedestrian who has made it as far as the middle of a road.
“That makes it quite clear that they cannot possibly have stepped out at the last minute. It also makes it quite apparent that the driver has still not seen them until very late, something we stressed in our representation.
“Every claim does however have to be based on evidence and specific facts, and therefore has some level of litigation risk when evidence is limited.
“This was something we had to consider when an offer of settlement was finally made, after CCTV had provided a limited view of the accident, and with full liability still being denied.
“A five-figure damages settlement was offered, which made no specific reference to the amount of blame attached to the driver, but it was an offer we felt was acceptable and prevented the extra expense and risk of the matter going before a judge in court.”
Mrs Taylor says she was impressed with the ‘professionalism and knowledge’ of Mrs Woodcock in bringing the claim to a satisfactory conclusion.
“Jane was exceptional and she really ensured my case progressed despite the obvious difficulties faced in negotiating with the defendant,” she said.
“I used the settlement to pay off a lump sum on our mortgage, as I wanted to go towards something practical.”