CASE STUDY – ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT Scenario Our client was a passenger in a refrigerated van that was being driven by a work colleague in August 2002. Whilst our client slept, the van collided with a lorry and as the impact was on the passenger side of the vehicle, he was trapped for over an hour before being cut out by the fire service. Even though it is not exactly clear how the accident occurred, it would appear that the driver fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in our client sustaining many injuries from multiple lacerations to the head, scars and retained glass in his forehead for which he had to have surgery, neck strain, lower back pain and pains in both knees. Solution Wilson Browne Solicitor’s Personal Injury team took the time to listen to the client carefully and fully understand the nature of the event and the extent of the resulting situation because of what had happened that day. We knew only too well that the defendants were liable and compensation had to be paid out and that they would pressurise the claimant into making a quick settlement. We advised our client not to accept the defendant’s first offer made in September 2004 of £6,000, which after a deduction of 25% for contributory negligence (in relation to failure to wear a seatbelt), would only amount to £4,500 and also their next offer of £7,500 in February 2005, which after the 25% would come to just £5,625. This is because as they were made at such an early stage, all of the relevant medical evidence had not been obtained. Once all the medical facts and evidence were obtained Wilson Browne presented the defendants with the facts of the case of Froom v Butcher in 1976, which is the law that applied here. Here the Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning said in the ruling “…where damages would have been prevented all together…I would suggest that they are reduced by 25%... where the evidence will only show that a failure made a considerable difference, I would suggest that damages attributable to the failure to wear a seatbelt should be reduced by 15%. Outcome Whilst the defendants were initially adamant that the 25% rule applied they eventually accepted that this case fell within the 15% category. The total value of the claim that was settled one week before trial, was £60,000, which after the deduction for contributory negligence, left the claimant with damages in the sum of £51,000 – this is ten times more than the original offer. Whilst our client has some persistent lower back pain that is likely to be permanent and some scarring to his forehead, his other injuries have now resolved. He is now employed as a forklift truck driver and should be able to continue in his employment until normal retirement age.
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