Real case example: Motorbike crash

Our client was a victim of a serious motorbike accident. He was in a coma, and he had to spend 1 month in hospital before he was able to return home to commence the long road of recovery. 

 

Our client was referred to us by a lawyer who believed that we would be able to obtain maximum compensation for our client. 

 

The extent of injuries 

Our client sustained very significant orthopaedic and neurological injuries in the spine, the shoulders, the wrists, as well as the face. It took him nearly one year before he was able to reach the stage where he could drive again and slowly return to work. 

 

In order to fully assess the extent of our client’s injuries, we hired four different specialists. For example, these included a spinal surgeon, as well as a maxillofacial surgeon, who is someone who specialises in injuries to the face and teeth. 

 

It took approximately 18 months before our client’s injuries stabilised. In personal injury law, when we say that an injury is stable and stationary, it does not mean that it is completely healed. It simply means that it does not get better and it does not get worse anymore. It remains as is. Only when your injuries are stable and stationary can  the value of your claim be accurately assessed. 

 

Low ball offers by the insurer…

After our client’s injuries became stable, we requested a settlement meeting with the insurer. 

 

However, at the meeting the insurer’s lawyer made very low offers, and we strongly advised our client not to accept. 

 

Sometimes even if you have a strong claim, the insurance company might think that you are in a hurry, or you are afraid of court, so you will take less. 

 

However, we advised our client to be very patient, and we explained to our client that eventually the insurance company will be afraid of the judge. 

 

We subsequently organised a mediation with the insurance company. A mediation is a settlement meeting, but we also involved an independent third person (usually an experienced barrister) who helps the parties resolve the impasse. 

 

Again, the insurance company’s lawyer only made low ball offers. In fact, the offers were only marginally better than what they were at the first settlement meeting. 

 

While our client got really frustrated with the insurance company’s attitude, we again advised our client to remain patient because we strongly believed that a better outcome could be achieved. 

 

Getting close to trial…Insurer gets nervous

After the unsuccessful mediation, we then pressed the matter to trial. We requested the court to list the matter for a three day hearing. We spoke again with all witnesses and we obtained updated expert reports from all of our specialists. 

 

We also booked all of our witnesses and all of our experts so that they are available for trial. 

 

High value settlement

Eventually, just before trial, the insurance company gave up and made an offer which was significantly higher than their previous offer, and which fairly compensated our client. 

 

In the end, our client was able to achieve maximum compensation, and most of his legal costs were also paid by the insurance company. 

 

The moral of the story is that even when you have a strong claim, the insurance company may choose a strategy whereby the test you first. They will try and see if it is urgent for you. Whether you want to get a quick settlement, thereby compromising a significant part of your claim. 

 

Another issue to keep in mind is that insurance companies know that some lawyers who have marketing budgets and all sorts of KPIs will put pressure on their own clients to settle early. We do not have these kinds of budgets and KPIs and pressures, and our sole objective was to keep up the pressure on the insurance company, build a stronger and stronger case, and obtain maximum compensation.