Intransigent insurer pays over £470,000 to cyclist injured by bus
One of the key benefits of working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is that they have the knowledge and skills to stand up against the big insurance companies whose objective is to keep any payment of compensation to a minimum. A good lawyer will know just how much compensation you deserve and will push your case to ensure that you get what you need. This is particularly important in the long term if your injuries curtail your future earning ability.
Such was the case for a 37-year old man who came to Ann Summerling, Senior Associate in our Personal Injury team for advice after he was hit by a bus while cycling to work at 5.45am one morning. The accident was not just a straightforward collision, as the man was dragged along the ground for several metres with his left leg trapped under the bus.
There was no question that the bus driver was fully responsible for the accident, which meant that the only issue to be negotiated with the bus company’s insurer was the amount of compensation to be paid to our client,
In most cases, there are attempts to settle a case without going to court, by one side or the other making an initial offer, and the insurers had started the ball rolling with an initial offer of £75,000, then increasing to £124,000 and finally a proposal of £150,000. Knowing that this was nowhere near enough to cover the future needs of our client, we proposed more appropriate sums which were rejected.
The case therefore had to go to court for a judge to decide the appropriate amount of compensation, which would need to cover several categories including the injury claim, past and future loss of earnings, past and future travel expenses, care and assistance with DIY/gardening and the future cost of surgery on a private basis.
Compensation for the injuries to his leg
The injuries to our client’s leg were extensive, with an open fracture which was cleaned up and then secured with an external fixator. A 7cm fragment of bone had been dislodged completely. To reconstruct his leg, it was necessary to remove the fixator, insert a large metal rod in his lower leg. To repair the lost skin, it was necessary to take skin from his right thigh and graft this onto his lower left leg.
After 17 days in hospital, the man was discharged but had to keep any weight off his left leg. It took over one year for the fractured bones to unite, and by the time of trial in January 2023, the man was still suffering from pains in his knee, ankle, and shin, and he could not walk or stand for more than thirty minutes.
Visible reminders of the accident remained in the form of an unsightly flap of skin on his left leg and permanent scarring on his right leg where skin had been removed for the graft.
Costs of rehabilitation
The ability to regain mobility would have a direct impact on the man’s ability to work, so it was important that he received adequate rehabilitation support. While NHS physiotherapy commenced after his discharge from hospital, this was interrupted by the covid pandemic.
To ensure he had the best chance of recovery, Ann Summerling negotiated an interim payment from the insurer which was used to fund 24 sessions of private physiotherapy, and for private surgery to remove some of the metalwork in his leg.
Costs of future care
A report from a plastic surgeon who specialises in reconstruction, recommended further procedures in the future to deal with the skin flap and the orthopaedic surgeon recommended consideration be given for removal of the remaining metalwork.
Past and future loss of earnings
Our client was a hardworking man who was working 55 hours a week across two jobs, as a cleaner and warehouse worker. The ability to cycle to and from work was vitally important to enable him to meet his commitments.
The accident meant that he would now need to rely on public transport, which removed his ability to travel quickly between jobs, and he was unable to be on his feet for long periods. Fortunately, one of his employers was extremely supportive, and he has been able to work at a desk-based role. But, given his age, his future earning capacity has been severely curtailed.
Other impact on life
As well as cycling, our client was very active and used to enjoy running and playing football – hobbies he will never be able to enjoy again. Over time, he may also find that he needs help with other activities, such as gardening or DIY.
Taking all this into account, at the end of the trial the judge awarded a sum of just over £430,000 in compensation with interest of around £43,000 -totalling nearly £478,000, and nearly three times the amount originally offered by the insurer.
‘The amount awarded clearly shows that the insurer’s initial proposals were far too low. Their intransigence in refusing to consider our fair settlement offers has cost them dearly,’ said Ann.
To find out more about how our Personal Injury team may be able to help you claim compensation following an accident that was not your fault, please contact Ann Summerling on 01908 689375 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free and no obligation initial consultation.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.