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Title: Driver now denying blame but can I still claim?

Date: 13 January 2016

Q. I was knocked off my bike when a driver changed lanes on a roundabout. At the scene he was very apologetic and said I could claim on his insurance but now he’s saying I was the one who was in the wrong lane and that the accident was my fault. Can I still try to claim on his insurance?

A. There is a lot of confusion around the role of insurance companies in the claims process. It important to note that when you are hit by a third party and you make a claim against that driver’s insurance, this is very different to making a claim on insurance where you are the policy holder.

Claiming on your own insurance is usually a simple matter of checking whether you are insured for whatever has happened and notifying your insurers at which point they should pay out.

When you try to claim against another driver’s insurance you are actually suing that other driver, usually for negligence, and that driver is being indemnified by his or her insurance company, so if you win against the driver his insurers are required to pay out.
If the other driver denies your allegation of negligence, even if he admitted liability at the scene, then you would need to pursue the matter to court to seek damages.

In civil court the test which the judge will use is whether, on the balance of probabilities, your allegation of negligence is more likely to be true than not. It is for the claimant to prove his claim rather than for the defendant to prove their defence so if the court was unable to decide then your claim would fail.

The way to persuade the court that your version of events is accurate would be to provide as much evidence in support of your version of events. Usually this will mean getting statements from anyone who might have witnessed that accident, or its aftermath. If the police attended their report would also be useful. In serious accidents, forensic reconstruction evidence can also be used though your solicitor should be able to advise you as to whether this is appropriate as it can be very expensive.

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