I recently acted for a pensioner Mrs R who was injured when the bus she was travelling on braked suddenly and threw her onto her back causing injuries to her back and neck.
Mrs R approached me to represent her and I sent a letter of claim to the bus company who denied responsibility on the basis that the driver of the bus braked because a road works sign had blown into the bus’ path and he had no option but to brake sharply. No CCTV footage was available. Mrs R did not see the accident happen, facing backwards at the time.
The police had attended the scene and so I applied for a copy of the police accident report which confirmed the accident circumstances. The policeman who attended had made a detailed note of how the accident happened and spoken with the workmen responsible for the road sign who advised that they should have been issued with sandbags by their employer to weigh down the signs, but had not been, and so the sign had blown into the road. Whilst the police were at the scene, a further sign blew into the ambulance which had arrived to attend to Mrs R.
The police did not note the name of the company which owned the road sign or the employees in their report, but the report also contained a statement from the bus driver who gave the name of the company carrying out the road works.
I made repeated attempts to contact the bus driver but was unable to reach him. I sent a letter of claim to the company said to have been carrying out the road works who denied all knowledge of the incident and claimed that they had not even been in the vicinity at the time. They did not provide disclosure of their work records and so I made an application to the Court for the same. These records were then provided and contained a number of entries for work carried out along this stretch of highway, 100 metres or so from the accident site. I sent these back to the company highlighting this but they continued to deny responsibility.
I did some further research and established that Transport for London were responsible for this section of the high street and applied for copies of their maintenance records. TfL confirmed that the company were contracted to maintain and repair the section of the road where Mrs R’s accident took place and provided records showing this.
I sent these further records to the Defendant company who continued to deny liability and argued that we were unable to show that the road sign that had caused Mrs R’s accident was their responsibility, despite it being clearly marked on the records that they were carrying out numerous repairs on the road.
I considered that Mrs R had good prospects of winning her case and advised her to continue with court proceedings. I prepared all the documentation necessary to progress this case to trial and met all Court deadlines as appropriate.
The Defendants continued to deny responsibility and I made a final offer to them and made final preparations for trial. At 6.00pm on the day before the trial, I received a telephone call from the Defendants accepting our offer. Mrs R was extremely pleased to have obtained compensation for her injuries, even though it had taken some time to reach a settlement as a result of the Defendant’s approach.