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Title: Do I settle?

Date: 22 October 2014

I had a bad accident 2 years ago and have had on going medical problems related to my back, left arm and both legs.

I have been a tree surgeon since leaving school and it is all I have ever done. I have been unable to work since the accident and I am now 44 and am very worried about how I will support myself and my family in the future. I am in financial difficulty having used up my savings but despite the driver’s insurer admitting liability at the scene I have received only £5,000 in interim payments.

I have lost earnings of £40,000 since the accident and have needed a lot of care from my partner and help around the house and garden. I have asked my solicitors to request further interim payments but the defendant has refused to do so and has just offered me £80,000 to settle my case.

I have no idea of knowing what my case is worth as I don’t know if I can work again but my solicitors say that if I don’t accept the offer I could end up paying the defendant’s costs and may end up with nothing. What should I do?

Harry Davies, Chester


Answer

The idea of a claim for injuries and financial losses is to put you in the position that you would have been in but for the negligence of the other party. That means that in a liability admitted case (where there are no causation issues such as the defendant alleging other pre-existing injuries causing on going symptoms) you are entitled to claim as interim payments past provable losses such as loss of earnings.

Therefore, assuming your past loss of earnings is provable and accepted and there are no issues of contributory negligence then there appears to be no good reason why your past loss of earnings has not been met in full (net of tax). You may need accountancy evidence but your solicitors can advise more on this.

A Claimant can make an application to the court for an interim payment. Your claim appears to be a potentially very significant one and the defendant is clearly trying to “buy off” the risk at this stage for what, to me, appears to be a low offer but one that is obviously tempting to a Claimant in financial difficulties.

A proper valuation of the claim (allowing for contingencies either way) needs to be conducted by your solicitors and a decision made on the offer. I suspect it is far too early to contemplate settlement bearing in mind the ongoing symptoms and future employment uncertainty. If you have not already got it, you can obtain insurance to cover you against the risk of having to pay the defendant’s costs which may be ordered if you eventually fail to beat the £75,000 offer. Without seeing the file and all of the evidence I cannot advise you but my gut feeling is that this offer is too low.

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