Dangerous drivers leave chaos in their wake, but it can be hard to identify them, let alone hold them legally responsible for the accidents they cause. However, in one striking case, personal injury lawyers surmounted that challenge and achieved a good outcome for a seriously injured child.
Aged nine at the time, the boy and his family were travelling home from a happy day out with his mother at the wheel. On a trunk road, she was tailgated by a black car that moved sharply into the inside lane before cutting in front of her in a sudden undertaking manoeuvre. She lost control and the family car was thrown down an embankment into a field. The boy, who was a rear-seat passenger, sustained life-changing injuries. The black car drove away and was not traced.
Proceedings were launched against a motorist who accepted that he was driving his black Mercedes in or around the location of the accident at about the same time. He vehemently denied, however, that he was the driver of the black car in question. He insisted that he had not been involved in any accident and that he had been mistakenly identified.
In upholding the boy's claim, however, the High Court noted that an older child who was also in the family car had described various details of the black car that were consistent with the Mercedes. The police had received an anonymous phone call from a driver who said that he had seen the accident and followed the black car, noting down its registration number – which matched that of the Mercedes.
Whilst the anonymous call provided only hearsay evidence, the Court found it highly persuasive and was satisfied that the black car and the Mercedes were one and the same. Far from being the unfortunate victim of a series of unhappy coincidences, it was the motorist's reckless driving that caused the accident. The boy's mother was in no way to blame. The amount of the boy's compensation, which would be paid by the motorist's insurers, would be assessed at a further hearing if not agreed.