A long time ago Jeff Lynne wrote a lyric that went like this..
It’s over, it’s over, all over,
It’s all over now
And the way you looked
Don’t even mean I’m down.
When you kick out the sea
And the sun says goodbye
There is nothing much to speak of.
Well a momentous fight that I have been going through for four years and four months is finally over and the lyric has been popping in and out of my head ever since.
On August 1st 2014, I was hit by a car while cycling around a roundabout. The crash broke my collarbone fairly badly, left me with a broken bicycle and a lot of cuts and bruises.
Initially the driver gave me false insurance details, then the owner of the car (his daughter) called me to tell me that I would never get a penny and she was going to sue me for damage to her car. By then I had already filed a police report and had been patched-up at the hospital, so I called a solicitor that specialises in bicycle accident claims to help me to untangle this mess. This turned out to be a brilliant move on my part.
A few days later I had surgery on my shoulder, it would be the first of three and the start down a very, very long road to some level of recovery. The driver eventually gave the police, and hence me, some valid insurance details and sometime later he was prosecuted for careless driving. Up to this point the insurance company had denied any liability in the case. Post this moment they had no choice. This does not mean that they became even slightly amenable though. Throughout the entire process they were hard to deal with.
But then the real fight began, I had to prove that I was injured. You would think that an 8-inch (20cm) scar from three surgeries would be sufficient along with the medical records that detail each one ?
You would be sadly wrong, in order to prove that you are injured, you need to be examined by a specialist and they have to right up a report that states that your injuries will or will not heal and that resolution cannot really be ascertained for at least a couple of years. So the very long-game started. Every year I would get a new examination and every year the report would say that it was too early to tell, Eventually after three examinations over nearly four years, the report said ‘permanent and stationary’. In other words, my injuries will not magically heal from this point on, the reduced range of motion in my left shoulder is here to stay, it is permanent. The scars will fade only slightly, but they are part of me now.
Along the way we got a court ruling that the insurance company was wholly liable and they they would pay the majority of the costs involved. We had a second hearing that set limits for each side in terms of legal cost and then a date was set for November for the final hearing and the expectation was that they would attempt to settle out of court.
And that was exactly what happened, about three weeks before the court date, the insurance company made an offer and we had to decide if it was good enough to accept, or if we wanted to actually go to court. The offer was not bad, it was pretty close to the sort of number that we expected to see awarded, but it came without any risk. In prior discussions, we had talked about the chances of an offer and at which levels we would ‘roll the dice’ and take our chances in court.
The offer was slightly over the maximum number that we were prepared to risk, so we formally accepted the offer. It took a while between acceptance and cheque clearing, but it is now, finally, all over. Everyone has been paid, my solicitor is happy and we are glad that this is all now over.
It is all over now……
I have a few final thoughts.
I really did not end up with very much money and it cost a lot for us to fight to get it too.
You often hear about people being awarded large sums for compensation – it is usually a friend of a friend that got £half a million after spraining his thumb, or similar. This is absolutely ridiculous and obviously ‘fake news’, there is a complex and invasive process in the UK that prevents this type of crazy payout from happening. Injury payments are based on the severity of the injury and the long-term effects of that injury on the injured party. Loss of a limb, loss of sight or hearing etc, carries a decent sized award, but recoverable injuries simply do not.
It takes a huge amount of time to settle any injury that has permanent effects. The injury needs be assessed multiple times over a multi-year period. The earliest that the payout period for a damaged limb (rather than a missing one) is around three years. Accepting an insurance payout in less time than that is crazy because the long term effects are not understood.
Actual compensation payouts are pitiful in comparison to the pain and suffering that you go through.
Looking back, if someone offered me many thousands to have my collar bone broken and go through the surgeries required and the pain and the inconvenience and the annoyance, I would tell them to stick it. Yes, I have received some compensation, no it is not even a fraction of one percent of the sort of number that I would need to willingly go through this again.
If you get caught up in an accident take a millions photos with your phone, photograph the screen, the people your injuries, the damages to everything. Do it before anyone moves too, if you have a photo like this that shows the position of the idiot that hit you, you will save yourself a lot of grief later. Note the dent in the door and the broken glass, human vs car hurts, a lot.
The compensation system is good, it does work, it is just necessarily painfully slow.