Road accidents which have lifelong consequences frequently occur in the blink of an eye and that can make it very difficult to ascertain who was to blame. However, as a High Court case showed, experienced lawyers are adept at cutting such gordian knots and ensuring that just compensation is swiftly paid.
The case concerned a 10-year-old boy who was on his bicycle when he was struck by a car within yards of his family's front door, as his mother prepared to take him to a local park. He suffered a brain injury that resulted in serious behavioural and other difficulties and which will blight the rest of his life.
Proceedings were brought against the car's driver, claiming that he was negligent in driving too quickly on what he knew to be a residential road where there was a large school. The driver's insurers, however, denied that he was to blame. They asserted that he had been driving within the speed limit and that the boy had emerged without warning into his path from between two parked cars, giving him no chance to stop in time.
A contested trial of those difficult issues was, however, rendered unnecessary after a settlement was negotiated on the boy's behalf whereby the insurers agreed to pay 80 per cent of the full value of his claim. In approving the compromise, the High Court praised lawyers on both sides for reaching a resolution that was very much in the boy's best interests. The amount of his compensation has yet to be assessed but, even after a 20 per cent reduction, the severity of his injuries means it is likely to be a seven-figure sum.