We received instructions from an emergency services client on a case where their vehicle was involved in a collision with an ice cream van. The circumstances were that both vehicles collided head-on, on a narrow country lane with little visibility for both parties prior to the impact. Our client’s vehicle had emergency lights activated but no sirens. We were instructed to recover uninsured losses including repairs and loss of use.
We carried out preliminary investigations to obtain a full driver/passenger statement, the dashcam footage from our client’s vehicle and from the third-party driver, details of their motor insurers.
We further liaised through the appropriate channels with our client and their business partners to collate quantum documentation. We issued our Letter Before Action to the third party and their named motor insurer. That was submitted in full but with the knowledge this was a likely split liability matter and negotiations would be necessary.
Alongside our claim against the third party / third party insurer, the third party submitted his own vehicle damage and personal injury claim against our client, via their insurer.
We liaised with the insurer to share evidence and discuss the appropriate strategy to achieve the optimum settlement for our mutual client. We received no response or engagement from the named third party or their insurer. With the case in impasse, we discussed next steps with the insurer. It was mutually agreed that proactive litigation was necessary and the only route to resolution, so we took the lead on that to provide our client some advantage as the claimant.
As expected, our court proceedings were defended and with the third-party vehicle damage / personal injury included as a counterclaim. Again we liaised with the insurer to agree the counterclaim would be defended by this firm to ensure consistency and manage costs.
Despite proper RTA notice however, there was still no engagement from the third-party insurer. They later provided evidence that the vehicle was in fact sold prior to the incident and they held no insurable interest. We took the decision at that point to make an application to the court to add the Motor Insurers’ Bureau as second defendant, intended to protect payment of the client’s claim in the event of a successful outcome.
The Defendant later produced a purported insurance policy which they said covered them for the incident. The insurer however disputed it was valid. Due to the uncertainty, we took the decision to make an application to court for the third party to disclose the position on his vehicle insurance. The court order followed and the third party was ordered to clarify his insurance arrangements.
It was not until the day of the trial that the Defendant admitted he was uninsured at the time of the incident. The MIB at that point agreed they would satisfy any Judgment obtained against the Defendant. Due to unforeseen circumstances, our client’s driver was unable to attend trial and as such we had instructions to negotiate settlement on a split basis.
Settlement was agreed between the parties on a 60/40 basis in the claimant’s favour with the trial utilised to deal with the issue of costs only.
We were therefore successful in recovering 60% of our client’s repairs and loss of use, plus the legal costs of pursuing the matter. The outcome justified the litigation as there were no offers of settlement prior. It was unfortunate that the Defendant’s dishonesty and misconduct throughout prolonged this litigation to nearly 2.5 years and this was reflected in the substantial costs order made against them.