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Title: Can I claim the cost of an automatic car?

Date: 06 August 2015

Question

Just under 2 years ago I had a collision with a lamppost caused by someone suddenly pulling out in front of me. I broke my tibia and fibula and had an external fixator frame attached for 4 months so that the bones could knit together again. Once the frame was off and following physio I found that clutch use was too difficult so I bought an automatic car with an interim payment my lawyer got me. The third party insurer’s lawyers are refusing to cover the extra cost of buying, replacing periodically and running an automatic car. We have seemingly reached an impasse in the negotiations on this point and I am hoping you can point me in the right direction?

Will Hurst, by email

Answer

The basis for a claim for financial losses is to put you back into the position you would have been in had the accident not happened. This is obviously difficult in terms of injuries but easier in terms of monetary loss. You state that as a result of the accident you can no longer drive a manual car and therefore need an automatic vehicle. They are often which often more expensive and over the years there may be a significant difference financially. Your solicitor needs to obtain supportive medical evidence from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon as to the medical justification for an automatic gearbox as opposed to a manual. Not only that it is reasonable but also that the need for it is accident related as opposed to being related to, for example, a pre-existing condition. The expert will presumably focus on your ability to use a clutch safely, without pain or functional deficit. Also you will need solid evidence of the actual costs difference.

If your medical expert supports this claim then hopefully your opponent’s expert will also support it and as such it is a perfectly reasonable claim to be making. If not then ultimately the experts will prepare a joint statement on areas of agreement and disagreement and the judge will decide whose evidence he prefers.

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