Our client has secured a life-changing lump sum in an early settlement after being hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing.
Associate Rebecca Huxford led MW’s claim and outlines the progression of the case.
Our client MW, a Czech national living in Doncaster at the time of her injuries, was using a pelican crossing to walk to the local shop when a car failed to stop at the crossing and collided with her. MW suffered a suspected brain injury, facial fractures and life-changing pelvic injuries. These caused chronic pain and difficulties with mobility, and she could not walk without the aid of a crutch.
Through a family member, MW initially instructed another firm of solicitors who submitted her claim through the road traffic accidents portal for low value claims (“the portal”). MW did not speak English and had very little understanding of what was happening with her claim. She was under the mistaken impression a settlement had been agreed.
Eight months after the accident, she moved back to her home in the Czech Republic. Her home was in a former communist era block of flats with limited facilities and was only accessible by multiple flights of stairs. She had not been able to return to her former job as a cleaner and was reliant on welfare and health assistance from the Czech state.
MW was eventually put in touch with Stewarts by Czech lawyer Klara Dvorkova of Hobulova Advocates via a welfare charity assisting MW. Based on our experience, we took the view that MW had sustained severe injuries, justifying a substantial accommodation claim. Therefore, the portal was not the appropriate forum for pursuing her case. We reassured MW that all our conversations would be through an interpreter and all documents would be translated so she fully understood the case. Consequently, she instructed us to take over the conduct of her claim.
As soon as we were instructed, we contacted the defendant insurer to confirm whether the claim had been settled and on what terms. They confirmed that no settlement had been agreed as liability was firmly disputed. However, they agreed that it was not appropriate for the claim to proceed within the portal, given the severity of the injuries sustained.
We obtained the police report, but as there was no formal collision investigation, there was limited information to assist in reconstructing the collision. The defendant sought to argue that MW had been using the crossing when the lights were green for drivers and red for pedestrians. There was some suggestion in the police report that the defendant may have approached the crossing as the lights were changing from red to green but that MW had already started crossing, and the defendant’s view of her was obstructed by another car stopped at the crossing. MW could not remember the collision. Given the lack of independent witnesses, there was a risk the driver may not be held negligent at all or that a substantial finding of contributory negligence would be made against MW.
We pressed the defendant insurer to fund an immediate needs assessment of MW under the Rehabilitation Code. The defendant was reluctant to agree and instead made an early offer of a six-figure settlement in recognition of the fact that the claim could cost equivalent to or more than the amount offered to defend the case at trial.
In collaboration with the Czech lawyer on the issue of earnings and the cost of medical treatment, care and accommodation in the Czech Republic, we conducted a detailed assessment of the potential value of MW’s compensation.
We also explored with the Czech lawyer whether any protection measures were available to MW in the Czech Republic to ring-fence her compensation from any means-tested benefits and taxation.
The sum offered represented a substantial sum given the lower cost of living in the Czech Republic, and there were liability risks. MW therefore decided to accept the offer and conclude her claim early.
Life beyond injury and testimonials
The settlement is life-changing for MW and will enable her to purchase or rent more suitable accommodation.
MW says: “I am thankful to you all. Nobody has helped me so much before.”
The Stewarts team collaborated with Czech lawyer Klara Dvorakova on MW’s case. Klara says: “There are number of solicitors who can handle compensation, but Stewarts absolutely impressed me with their professionalism in communicating, planning and managing the case of our client who suffered a life-changing injury following a car accident in the UK.
“Cross-border compensation cases are always challenging in terms of understanding the differences in making a claim, types of claims, obtaining evidence and calculating compensation. Through clear communication with Rebecca Huxford, MW gained confidence in the proposed solutions, which helped the case greatly. I also believe it was the good communication that contributed to a fair offer from the defendants. I would recommend Stewarts for anyone looking for professional case management.”
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