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Title: £577,000 filtering accident - Melbourne -v- MPS

Amount: £557,000

On 6 December 2007 the Claimant, 37 years old at the date of accident and settlement, was riding his motorcycle along the A312 Church Road in North London. It was a 2 lane carriageway, the inside lane being an intermittent bus lane which ended at junctions to minor roads to the left and then recommenced after the junctions. The Defendant was driving a Land Rover Defender with a trailer in tow and was in stop start traffic in the outside lane of the carriageway. The Claimant was white-lining / filtering on the nearside of the offside lane. Without indication and suddenly the Defendant’s vehicle pulled across the path of the Claimant intending to turn left into a minor road, Clifford Close, where the Defendant was due to undertake some work. The Claimant was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle and his motorcycle careered off the road into a sign post. The Claimant sustained various injuries the most serious of which was a fractured tibia and ankle to his right leg. There were multiple attempts to save the Claimant’s right leg but eventually, in June 2008, the decision was taken to proceed with a below knee amputation.

The Defendant claimed to have indicated his intended left turn manoeuvre. He also stated he looked in his mirrors but did not see the Claimant. An independent witness, a professional motorcycle stunt rider, stated that the Defendant did not indicate and that there was nothing the Claimant could have done to avoid the collision. The Claimant appears to have been travelling at between 15mph and 20mph. The Defendant argued that the Claimant was riding in the bus lane during hours when the Claimant should not have been in it. This was denied by the Claimant and the independent witness. The evidence was that the Defendant did not know the area well nor the exact location of the street where he was due to carry out works. It is thought that he or his passenger suddenly saw the street and made the manoeuvre without checking that is was safe to do so. It was daylight and the Claimant’s headlight was on and he was in a highly visible helmet and jacket.

No admission of liability was received nor were any liability offers made.

Proceedings were commenced at the High Court in London and a liability trial was listed for 19 November 2008.  

A without prejudice round table meeting took place between the Claimant’s and Defendant’s Solicitors on 2 October 2008 to see if liability could be agreed without recourse to trial.  

Contributory Negligence or Litigation Risk ?

The Defendant accepted that it was highly likely that the Claimant would succeed on primary liability but considered there was some considerable contributory negligence in overtaking the Defendant on the inside of his vehicle and at a junction. The Claimant acknowledged that the highway code made reference to overtaking at junctions but that in this case the side road was a minor junction and that the Claimant was proceeding with caution having checked to see that no one was either exiting or entering the junction or indicating their intention to do so. As such the Claimant was not prepared to accept any contributory negligence although was prepared to concede that there was some litigation risk, i.e. that there was a risk that the court would find some low degree of contributory negligence but that this risk was far from certain.

The parties quickly realised that neither side was prepared to budge on the contributory negligence issue and therefore discussions turned to whether the case could be settled on a global sum basis, instructions having been provided to both parties to try and do so. The Defendant had previously made an offer of £400,000 which was rejected. At the meeting the Claimant put forward an offer of £650,000. Later that day after negotiations, the claim settled for £557,000.00 including £7,000 interim payments received to date.  

General Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity were considered to be in the region of £85,000. The Claimant was expected to be back at his pre-accident work as a kitchen sales director within 2 years of the date of the accident, maybe with a slightly reduced earning capacity. The Claimant was also intending to claim for prosthetics and a change of accommodation from a house with stairs to a bungalow. Past losses included considerable care provided by his partner. The Defendant’s insurer, Allianz, agreed to rehabilitation provider HCML’s instruction early on which was of great assistance.  

Summary: General Damages approx £85,000.00

Special Damages (compensation for financial losses) approx £472,000.00

Total settlement: £557,000.00

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