Case Study A
& PERSONAL INJURY - CASE STUDIES
Mrs A who was 88 lived in sheltered housing run by a housing
association. Unfortunately the flags on the pathways near
her flat were allowed to fall into disrepair and she tripped
on a protruding flagstone and fell heavily breaking her neck.
She survived but had to wear a “crown of thorns”
a steel cage neck brace for many months and was left with
significant impaired quality of life because of her age. Her
recovery was slow.
Were you not familiar with the insurance industry you might
expect the liability insurers to take a sympathetic view and
settle this case speedily to ease the victim’s final
years, particularly in view of the excellent evidence we had
obtained of the tripping point within days of the accident.
They did not. The liability insurers denied liability and
fought the case every step of the way. Proceedings were issued
to force the matter to a conclusion quickly particularly in
view of the client’s advanced age. The liability insurers
procrastinated and attempted to delay. We applied pressure
and insurers agreed to pay £28,000.00 virtually at the
door of the court plus costs.
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Case Study B
A straight forward whiplash case.
Miss B was stationary at some traffic lights when she
was hit from the rear. Her car (which was of modest
value) was written off and Miss B suffered whiplash
and other uninsured losses including a week off work.
Liability was not disputed by the third party insurers
but causation and quantum was. After giving the appropriate
advice Ashton Bell Accident
solicitors entered into a no win no fee
agreement with Miss B, took a full statement and collated
evidence of her losses. An accident and emergency consultant
was instructed to prepare a medical report which was
in our hands within 3 months of the accident date. the
medical gave a prognosis for a full recovery in 9 to
12 months post accident. Miss B’s uninsured losses
(the value of her car, recovery charges, storage charges,
value of full tank of petrol, loss of earnings, travel
expenses, incidental expenses such as telephone calls
etc, extra care and assistance with the housework rendered
voluntarily by friends) were all agreed at around what
could have been recovered at trial on a voluntarily
basis. A junior barrister’s opinion was sought
as to the value of the injury which was received within
1 week of instructions.
In light of the medial evidence and counsel's advice
Miss B opted to settle the case early instead of waiting
to see whether she did in fact recover within 9 to 12
months which would have been a more cautious approach.
Acting on those instructions Ashton
receiving several unreasonable offers from the insurers)
settled general damage at £2,500.00, (the same
as a trial judge might be expected to award following
a contested hearing), within 4 months of the accident
date. This was an excellent result given that the third
party insurers have 21 days to acknowledge the letter
of claim and 3 months under the personal injury pre
action protocol to decided whether or not to concede
liability. If the third party insurers respect the pre
action protocol these cases can be processed quickly
and settlement achieved in a simple case in typically
6 to 9 months, although it can be done more quickly
than this as shown above.
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Case Study C
A not so simple whiplash claim
Mrs C was involved in an accident in Germany whilst a passenger
in a car of an English friend which was registered and insured
in England. Although the impact was moderate and there was
no bony damage, because of pre existing back problems she
experienced persistent symptoms which were still ongoing 2
years after the accident.
The German police held Mrs C’s friend responsible at
the scene and imposed an on the spot fine.
Mrs C was initally reluctant to hold her friend responsible
and wanted to proceed against the German driver despite the
position taken by the German police. However it was pointed
out to Mrs C that she could not possibly be responsible, being
a passenger and as her friend was insured in England and had
been obliged to make a claim under his own insurance policy
in respect of his vehicle (and therefore lost his no claims
bonus) it made little difference to her friend’s insurers
whether or not there was an additional claim for her personal
injury. A failure to claim against his insurers would not
therefore improve his position.
It was also pointed out that seeking to claim against he German
driver would necessitate proceedings in Germany and in view
of the attitude of the police, would be fraught with difficulty,
and have uncertain prospects of success.
In light of this advice Mrs C did proceed against her friend’s
insurers who conceded liability. There was still plenty of
work to do because of Mrs C’s complex medical history.
There was also a substantial subrogated loss of earnings claim
(Mrs C having had some 6 months off work) and a substantial
claim for extra care and assistance rendered by Mrs C’s
family as she was not able to carry out everyday household
tasks for about 6 months. The third party liability insurers
having conceded liability were not so obliging over quantum
(how much she should receive) and took every possible point
over what turned out to be a substantial list of special damage
(items of loss which could be quantified). Evidence had to
be obtained in respect of each and every head of damage and
negotiations were made protracted by the insurers obstinacy
and persistence on having even nominal items vouched for.
This case could not be settled quickly as Mrs C’s medical
condition failed to stabilise early or show a progressive
recovery pattern. Settling early in this case would have involved
a risk of under settling the claim had she not recovered,
as the initial consultants report suggested a recovery to
pre accident levels of symptoms within 18 to 24 months. An
18 to 24 month prognosis for back pain would generally trigger
an award of between £3,750.00 and £4,250.00 for
pain and suffering (general damage). (2001 figures)
As Mrs C had failed to recover to pre accident levels
after 2 years a further medical opinion was sought.
This report confirmed that Mrs C’s symptoms were
unlikely to get any better (i.e. were chronic) but was
inconclusive as to the attributes ability of those symptoms.
It was thought that in view of pre existing degenerative
changes in Mrs C’s back (she was in her early
50’s) then she would have experienced similar
symptoms anyway but the onset of those symptoms had
been accelerated. In light of this following intensive
negotiations Mrs C’s claim for her back pain was
settled at £8,000.00 shortly after Ashton Bell
accident solicitors received the second medical.
Her special damage (loss of earnings, nursing care and assistance
and other miscellaneous expenses) were settled at close to
what she might reasonably have expected to receive following
a trial, without the need to issue proceedings. Mrs C also
had her legal costs paid in full and did not have to contribute
anything towards to cost of her claim.
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Case Study D
Mrs D thought she might like some new double glazed windows
in a cottage she had just bought. Unfortunately she went to
a local jobbing builder who neglected to advise her that she
should fit windows with opening restrictors to the first floor
bedroom window (which was set very low). After fitment and
payment (in cash) Mrs D got up one night and opened the bedroom
window, overbalanced and fell 14 feet onto spiked railings,
impaling herself through her torso in three places. Miraculously
she survived, albeit with extensive and unpleasant injuries.
Problems with case study D
• The installer was an uninsured
• The transaction was in cash
• There was no case law on the point
• Regulatory framework was sparse
• Mrs D was impecunious
• Uncertain prospects of recovery
• The installer being uninsured decided to instruct
solicitors and deny liability.
Although both liability and recovery were far from certain,
Ashton Bell accident solicitors underwrote and funded the
whole of this potentially risky case on a “no win no
After appropriate investigation of the circumstances, appropriate
experts were instructed, proceedings were issued and the matter
was driven to a fully contested trial where judgement was
given for substantial compensation and costs.
The debt was secured against the installer’s home
by way of an application for a charging order. This
may be said to be hard on him, but not as hard as the
consequences of the negligence for our client.
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