Many claimants hesitate in making a personal injury claim for fear that their claim will reach trial and they will be subject to intense scrutiny and cross-examination that they would prefer to avoid. Although it is true that issued cases can go all the way to trial, the reality is that the vast majority of claims settle without the need for a trial.
I recently acted for a client involved in a road traffic accident. There were no independent witnesses and therefore it was my client’s word against that of the driver who had hit him. A copy of the police accident report was obtained, but there was very little information contained within it which was helpful to either side. Nevertheless having met my client, I trusted his account of the accident circumstances which involved him being a pedestrian who was knocked down by the driver’s vehicle.
Medical evidence was obtained which confirmed the extent of my client’s injuries. As is common, I forwarded an offer to the insurers offering to settle the claim without the need to issue court proceedings. Had the insurers accepted the offer or put forward a reasonable counter-offer, the claim could have settled, saving time and expense. Instead, the insurers accused my client of lying and their driver categorically denied having collided with my client. Consequently there was no option left but to issue court proceedings. All steps contained within the court timetable were followed.
Less than two weeks before the trial date, the claim had still not settled. I prepared trial bundles and sent them to court and ensured my client was ready to provide his evidence in the witness box. Three days before the trial, the insurers put forward an offer of settlement. It was a good offer and accurately reflected the full value of my client’s injuries and financial losses. My client was therefore happy to accept it.
This is a prime example of a case settling before trial despite liability being denied by the insurers throughout the entire claim.
Claimants should not be afraid to bring genuine claims. The vast majority of claims do settle before trial and those which do not should not be taken to trial unless they have reasonable prospects of success.