A motorcyclist who suffered a brain injury following a serious road accident has received a £520,000 compensation settlement – but only after a legal battle demonstrated a car driver had been at fault for his injuries.
The 53-year-old biker was in collision with a car which was pulling out of a pub car park in Bagshot, Surrey, causing him to fall from his bike, leaving him unconscious in the middle of the road.
However, with the accident happening shortly after 11pm as he was driving home from his work as a restaurant manager, there were no witnesses to the accident other than the car driver, who initially denied having been in collision with the motorcyclist at all at the scene.
CCTV footage from a nearby hotel also initially proved inconclusive as to whether there was a collision and who was at fault.
The car faced no criminal action, despite eventually admitting in police interviews that the motorcyclist had in fact clipped the front offside of his vehicle.
CCTV footage did however show that the car driver moved his vehicle back into the pub car park less than two minutes after the accident, with the injured motorcyclist still unconscious and left in the middle of the road.
Personal injury specialist Kent Pattinson, of Hudgell Solicitors, says the circumstances of the accident left the man in a difficult position given the lack of witnesses, and inconclusive CCTV.
The issue here was a lack of concrete evidence to support a compensation claim, given there had been insufficient evidence to prosecute the car driver and the lack of witnesses to provide statements.
I am sure that many firms may have opted on the side of caution with regards to his situation, in fear that a lot of time and money would be spent on his case for it not to be successful, especially in a no-win no fee scenario.
However, there was no suggestion at all that he had been driving anything but sensibly and within the law, and this accident had left him with a serious life-changing injury.
The circumstances of the accident, with the car driver having done what he did afterwards, led me to believe that we could investigate a claim on the client’s behalf, and given the impact on his life, it was something we as a firm certainly believed we should do.
Subsequent investigations, which included the input of independent accident reconstruction experts and the analysis of skid marks on the road, showed the motorcyclist had been breaking prior to impact with the car and that he had been attempting to steer further to his offside to avoid an impact.
It also showed the motorcyclist had been upright until the point of impact with the car.
When the CCTV was further reviewed by the accident reconstruction expert using technology to further slow the footage frame by frame, there was evidence to suggest that car had been moving forward at the time of impact.
It was only at the time of exchanging accident reconstruction expert opinions that the defendants admitted liability, as before this stage the case looked set to go all the way to court.
This suggested to me that their expert had perhaps come to the same conclusion as the one we sought an opinion from. The opinion of the reconstruction expert was crucial to the case, and to our client securing this settlement.
The legal claim alleged negligence from the car driver in that he failed to see the motorcyclist approaching as he left the junction, failed to keep any proper lookout and drove without due care and attention when the motorcyclist had right of way.
It was also alleged that he had therefore driven into the path of the motorcyclist, and failed to take appropriate action to avoid the collision.
In civil court cases such as personal injury claims, the law sides where the weight of evidence is greater, unlike criminal law, where guilt must be proven.
Mr Pattinson says this was crucial in being able to secure his client, now 57, a settlement which will help him adjust to life with a brain injury.
My client spent a period of time in intensive care and suffered a significant brain injury as a result of this accident.
He did make a good recovery, and to speak to him you would not immediately know he has suffered such a serious injury. However, it has had a huge impact on his life as he is no longer able to work as a restaurant manager, which he loved, and can no longer be the provider for his family that he was.
He also needs future therapy and continuing rehabilitation, and of course he has been left at a disadvantage in the jobs market due to the injuries he suffered.
I am obviously delighted that we have been able to secure this substantial settlement for him and his family, as at one stage it looked as though he’d be left with nothing. This money has to support him and his family for the rest of his life.