Our client Mr R was one of three people travelling from Birmingham to London in the front of a cab van. Mr Z was the driver, Mr W was in the middle and our client was in the passenger seat. During the journey, Mr Z started drinking a bottle of coke (which later transpired to contain alcohol) and as a result Mr Z lost control of the vehicle. The van flipped onto its passenger side and skidded along the road colliding with the central reservation. Our client sustained significant injuries to his head and left shoulder from contact with the tarmac as the vehicle slid along the road. Our client was rendered unconscious and taken to hospital, while Mr Z and Mr W only sustained superficial injuries.
All three are Polish nationals and our client spoke little to no English. Mr Z was translating on his behalf and told the police that our client was the driver of the van. Mr Z had been drinking and was already banned from driving (the police were unaware of this at the time) so he did not want to get into trouble again. Mr W went along with Mr Z’s story. Our client was heavily comatose and barely able to speak English. He was unaware that the police recorded him as the driver in their report. Independent witnesses were unable to say who was driving the van.
The next day, following the accident, Mr Z and Mr W told our client what they had done. Our client and his wife tried to complain to the police but following an investigation they were not prepared to take any further action. About 8 months later, our client was served with a letter from a solicitor acting on behalf of Aviva (the Road Traffic Insurers of the van) claiming £5.500 for Aviva’s outlay for repairing the motorway. They claimed that our client was driving the vehicle without consent of the owner and that he was not insured to drive the van. Our client contacted Sam Seaford, from our Personal Injury Team for advice.
This case was made increasingly difficult because the police report stated that our client was the driver and a significant amount of time had elapsed since the accident. Mr W eventually decided to come clean, so we obtained a supportive witness statement which assisted our client’s claim, as he was an independent witness.
Despite our best efforts to communicate the complexity of the issues to Aviva’s solicitors they issued Court proceedings (without serving us with a copy) and furthermore obtained Judgement (the pleadings were sent to our client’s previous address so nobody knew anything about it).
We approached Aviva directly and convinced them that our client was not the driver and as a result, Aviva dropped the claim for £5.500 and we were able to go further and obtain a settlement on a pre-medical basis for £15,000 for our client! It was a triumph in the face of adversity.