Even where there is a clear-cut answer to the question of who is to blame for a road accident, assessing the damages due to victims requires the highest level of professional skill. That was certainly so in the case of a taxi driver who suffered devastating injuries when his cab was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
The private hire vehicle driver had a passenger on board when the head-on collision occurred. The other driver fled the scene and was later arrested at an airport as he tried to leave the country. He was subsequently convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and other offences relating to the accident and received a substantial prison sentence.
The taxi driver sustained brain damage and psychiatric injuries, including severe depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. He also suffered complex orthopaedic injuries, resulting in serious and lifelong difficulties in respect of his use of his lower limbs. His rehabilitation was significantly hindered by the intervention of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other vehicle was not covered by a valid insurance policy and its driver, who had moved abroad following his release from prison, played no part in the case. The taxi driver therefore launched proceedings against a nominated motor insurer and the Motor Insurers' Bureau, the industry body that compensates victims of uninsured drivers.
Primary liability for the accident was admitted. There was, however, a dispute as to whether the taxi driver was wearing a seatbelt at the time. The consequences of his brain and psychiatric injuries, together with his future prognosis and care needs, were also the subject of intense disagreement. In spite of this, a £1.4 million lump-sum settlement of his claim was successfully negotiated.
In approving the settlement, the High Court noted that medical experts were poles apart on a number of issues and that there was a huge disparity between the rival valuations of the claim. Originally, the claim was pitched at in excess of £4 million, whereas the defendants argued for a figure of less than £300,000. The Court was satisfied that the settlement fairly reflected litigation risks and would address the taxi driver's reasonable needs.