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Title: Does my crash mean double trouble in court?

Date: 28 April 2016

Question

I had an accident last year when I was overtaking a line of cars that were driving slowly on B-road. The person at the front of the queue turned right across me to enter one of those side of the road diners giving me no to time to avoid him. He told the police he indicated but I did not see him indicate. My solicitor is saying I need to have two trials – one to decide who was to blame for my accident and one to decide on the value of my injuries and out of pocket expenses. Is this correct? My right thigh bone was broken in the accident which is the only on-going issue, the other injuries were fixed pretty quickly.

Ryan Jenkins – by e-mail

Answer

Your solicitor is suggesting what is known as a “split” trial. A split trial is when two elements of the claim, fault and value, are heard separately, usually for cost efficiency reasons. The question of liability (who is to blame for the accident) can often include arguments as to contributory negligence - that is the degree of fault of the person bringing the claim, for example for filtering too fast on the approach to a junction.

A split trial in a case where the value is potentially significant can be advantageous because if the defendant is not found liable, there is no need to spend the money or time in the presentation of proof and witnesses on the issue of the value of the claim. Your case is one which is bound to attract an allegation of contributory negligence from the Defendant but they must satisfy the court that there should be a deduction and this will depend on all of the evidence. As your prognosis is as yet unclear and the claim is potentially of a high value then this would appear to be a sensible way to proceed.

I should say there is no rule that states there must be a split trial and ultimately it will be the court’s decision.

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