Case Study - Untraced driver claim AS

This case involved Mr AS, a motorcyclist who suffered serious personal injuries following contact with crash barriers, in an untraced driver claim conducted under the MIB (Motor Insurers' Bureau) Untraced Scheme.

The circumstances

AS's motorbike skidded from under him on a motorway slip road. Oil had been spilt by/from and untraced lorry. AS sustained severe acquired brain injury, severe visual disturbance, depression/serious psychosocial issues – a level of disability all the more serious/tragic given his wife's severe disability incurred at the same time following her development of a life-threatening condition during the birth of the couple's second child.

A key focus in the case was to do everything possible to improve personal, home and family life for AS, and his family.

The case was originally scheduled at £2.5 million. George Ide's team of personal injury solicitors had to advise and balance very carefully – investing a lot of time/cost to maximise claim value whilst at the same time balancing irrecoverable legal costs (because of limited costs recovery under the MIB Untraced Scheme). Therefore, George Ide undertook very careful risk/costs/benefits analysis with the client at all stages – so as not to cause undue stress for this highly vulnerable claimant, as a result of the inherent problems/difficult issues, any more than was absolutely necessary.

The case

The claim required careful teamwork between Paul Fretwell from George Ide and Counsel, working and maintaining a productive dialogue with a senior case handler at the Motor Insurers' Bureau. We managed to secure excellent joint expert nominations with the MIB which very much worked to the advantage of this case. The MIB was presented with key medical opinions which were extremely favourable to AS. These very supportive opinions laid an excellent medical foundation for the case.

George Ide LLP was able to obtain very substantial interim payments, maintaining a steady flow of funds in to a personal injury/Disability Trust which we were running for AS, to maintain/ensure high quality case management, rehabilitation, treatment, support and extension to AS's home. There was excellent support from the case manager who was able to help achieve the best possible family life situation (in very difficult and stressful circumstances) for AS.

Our team was not afraid to challenge and test out the "quality of life" objective in relation to case management, psychological therapy, eye surgery etc. We obtained thorough and carefully prepared "before and after" statements from family, friends, the former employer, former work colleagues etc. AS also benefitted from psychological therapy and privately undertaken eye surgery (by one of the pre-eminent eye surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital) which aimed to improve eye function.

The personal injury solicitors at George Ide were able to build a good picture of a lost career and care/support/rehabilitation needs to demonstrate the benefits of the package of care and support which had been put in place throughout the duration of the case.

It was particularly important to support, reassure and not unduly stress or worry AS, and to build up trust and confidence over time. We were able to, on occasion, lift our client's spirits and to explain matters to him carefully so as to set his mind at ease. This was absolutely vital because he became very anxious and worried about many aspects of his family's life.

Paul and the team managed to persuade the MIB to come to the negotiating table at a joint settlement meeting despite the organisation's initial unwillingness to participate. This was a carefully pursued strategy for negotiation rather than relying on having papers before a single Arbitrator, which could have been potentially risky and with very uncertain outcomes.

Case details

From the early stages of the case, we worked with our in-house Trusts team to set up and run an ongoing Personal Injury Trust so that interim payment funds were managed to enable payment of all rehabilitation costs and to protect AS in relation to means-tested benefits.

AS was assessed at an early stage, through expert opinions, to prove that he had full capacity and was not suitable for Court of Protection.

We carefully reviewed with Counsel the issue of periodical payments and their appropriateness (or otherwise) and the need for IFA opinion. We considered a potentially catastrophic lack of flexibility in the periodical payments system. The care claim was inextricably linked to the health and availability of AS's wife and it was, therefore, unsafe to have a substantial proportion of the damages within periodical payments.

The case was settled for £1.6 million.

The team comprised personal injury partner at George Ide Paul Fretwell, Phillip Grundy of Counsel, Sue Stoten Case Manager with Anglia, Mr Lee (deceased) eye surgeon, David Price neurosurgery expert, Renee McCarter neuropsychology expert, Maggie Sargent care expert, Mr Noordeen spinal orthopaedic expert and Matthew Starr neuro-opthalmic expert. George Ide's investment advice team comprised Ian Mellor, John Atkinson and John Standring.

Thoughts

We sought at all times to provide the "human touch" in this challenging claim; recognising the importance of trust and confidence, maintaining a quality-of-life focus and keeping this central to the case. Phillip Grundy's lateral thinking ability (thinking outside of the box) was extremely important and helpful. The team was not afraid to gently "shake things up" from time to time for AS's benefit and to think creatively for the provision of care and support for AS.

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