The law is always a difficult area for the average man in the street, the legions of smart lawyers employed by large corporations frequently using it's complexities and convoluted traditions to deny the rights of Joe Public, usually at a time when they most need it's protection.
Never is this iniquitous state of affairs more so than inpersonal injury cases where, given the complexity of the law, Insurance companies use every conceivable device to prevaricate, delay and, ultimately, short change those who are already the victims of their client.
As simply as possible let us tell the hypothetical story of such a victim, not in this case seriously injured, but having lost his motorcycle, considerable earnings and suffered pain and discomfort through the careless actions of another road user.
Whilst an imaginary situation the steps to be followed are typical of all such cases and may be of use to anyone in a similar situation.
Young Paul has just passed his test at his first attempt and by way of congratulation, his father augments the lads savings to buy him a second hand motorcycle and pay for the road tax and insurance needed.
All goes well for the first few weeks, Paul is sensible and careful and the bike makes his trips to work and to his day release college in the next town much easier. It is on one such early morning trip that disaster strikes, while riding along his usual route a lorry comes out of a side turning, apparently not having seen the motorcyclist, and young Paul is unable to avoid a collision.
Not fortunately badly injured, the lad has a broken leg, broken ribs and various minor injuries which keep him inhospital for 4 weeks, off work for 4 months and, inevitably, his college work suffers. During his stay in hospital he is interviewed by police officers investigating the incident with a view to bringing charges against the lorry driver.
His father urges Paul to take some legal action and shortly after his release from the hospital an appointment is made to see Mr Wiggins, a local solicitor. Mr Wiggins carefully quizzes Paul on all of the details of the events and opines that there is probably a case against the lorry driver and his employers. He gathers further evidence from the police, the doctors and other parties and ascertains the name of the lorry company's insurers.
He writes to the insurers stating his belief that their client is liable for some redress and seeks compensation. He also suggests that the matter may go to court if their response is unhelpful. Concurrently, the lorry driver is prosecuted and is convicted of dangerous driving.
The insurance companies first offer is considered derisory by the solicitor and a writ is served on the lorry driver and his employers. At the same time Mr Wiggins consults council [ who would present the case in court ] as to the best way to present the case and discusses with him the offer from the insurers both consider to be inadequate.
Both prepare all of the necessary documents, satisfy a number of formal procedures and obtain free legal aid for their client after which a date is set for a hearing before a judge. After hearing all of the arguments and weighing the available evidence the judge finds against the lorry driver and his employers and awards damages to Paul - at a much higher figure than the insurers offered - and also all costs of preparing his case.
The whole process may, typically, have taken up to 2 years but justice has been seen to be done.
Article © Graham Benge 2007