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I recently inherited a litigated matter which involved a van pulling out on our client, causing an accident. Liability was disputed and a defence and counterclaim lodged by the defendant.

Our client had suffered life changing injuries and due to a brain injury had no recollection of the accident itself.

I reviewed the case and began to prepare the Reply to Defence and Defence to Counterclaim.

The main evidence we had was CCTV and a reconstruction report, both of which proved the client had been speeding at the time of the accident. I immediately knew what had happened, a blind bend, a country road, a van pulling out and a biker.

I knew all too well the circumstances here. Just over a year ago, another client of mine had gone to trial with the exact same accident circumstances, even down to a brain injury and no recollection of the accident.

The trial ultimately came down to the reconstruction evidence and matters of seconds, speeds, and reaction times. After a rough couple of days and lots of evidence from both sides’ reconstruction experts, it was clear the case could go one of a number of ways. If our client was there to be seen at the time the defendant pulled out, then we would succeed in primary liability but if he was not at the time the defendant pulled out (because of his speed), then we would fail. The Judge sent us away, giving both sides the impression that we should settle prior to the third day to avoid the very real risk of either side losing in full. This is exactly  what we did, agreeing a financial settlement with no agreement on liability. The client walked away with a significant financial settlement which, if we had lost the next day, would have all fallen away.

I thought back to this case when considering the one in front of me, with a much better understanding of reaction times, speed and how seconds and distances can change a whole case.

I held a conference with our reconstruction expert and this time I knew all the right questions to ask and the points to press him on using my previous experience. I felt confident and calm, and I was able to explain the complex ins and outs to the client in a way he understood.

The case is currently ongoing and a liability trial is planned and whilst no two cases are the same, it is good to know that I have experience in my back pocket this time around.