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Personal Injury Settlements - A Bird in Hand Can Be Worth Two in the Bush

When negotiating the settlement of personal injury cases, lawyers know only too well that a bird in hand can be worth two in the bush. That was certainly so in the case of a cyclist who suffered a catastrophic brain injury in a road accident.

The woman, in her 30s, was cycling in the middle of a three-lane urban road when she moved into the outside lane with a view to turning right. She expected a car in the outside lane to give way but, when it did not, a collision occurred and she was thrown from her bike. She suffered life-changing injuries.

There was graphic CCTV footage of the accident, which provided certainty on such matters as the respective manoeuvring of bike and car and the speed at which the motorist was travelling. However, issues remained and there was no agreement as to whether the cyclist looked over her shoulder before changing lanes.

Following discussions, a settlement of liability issues in the case was agreed whereby the motorist's insurers would pay 70 per cent of the full value of her claim. In order to meet her immediate needs pending final assessment of her damages award, the insurers had already paid interim damages of £120,000. As part of the compromise, they agreed to pay a further £350,000.

In approving the settlement, the High Court acknowledged litigation risks in the case. The settlement represented a sensible compromise and had the added advantage of providing certainty and avoiding the need for a contested, three-day trial of liability issues. Given the severity of the cyclist's injuries, her eventual damages award is bound to be very substantial and will contribute enormously towards meeting her future needs.