Legal Q&A

This information is provided by Stephen Hattersley, of WildWood Legal, a firm of solicitors specialising in claims for injured scooterists. Stephen, a qualified solicitor for 25 years has been riding scooters for over 30 years, and has acted for injured riders across the UK. He knows the tricks and pitfalls that insurers use and pulls no punches in his dealings with them. He rides to work every day and understands the challenges you face out there.

Q. I had an accident but it is a while ago. Am I too late to bring a claim?

A. Time limits do apply to personal injury claims. Ordinarily, Court proceedings need to be started within three years of the accident date. The Court can extend this period but there needs to be a (very) good reason why the delay has happened for the Court to allow this. There is lots to do before Court proceedings can be started (obtaining evidence, instructing medical experts etc.) so don’t leave things until late in the day if you can possibly help it.

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Q. I was knocked off my scooter by a car-driver and injured as a result, The Police tell me that the car driver was uninsured. Can I still make a claim?

A. Sorry to hear that and hope you are ok. The good news is that yes you can as the Motor Insurers Bureau was set up for these situations. This is an organisation which will meet claims where a motorist is either untraced or uninsured. Every road traffic insurer has to pay towards the MIB’s costs and in fairness, it does a reasonably good job. There are certain quirks involved when bringing claims against the MIB which can make it slightly trickier than an ordinary claim so you do need to make sure that you don’t fall foul of these.

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Q. I was knocked off my bike and badly injured. I am self-employed so I am not going to earn anything for a while. I know claims take a long time – how am I going to pay my bills in the meantime?

A. Sorry to hear that and hope you recover soon. The good news is that your solicitors could and should be asking the Defendant’s insurers for what is called an ‘interim payment’. This is a payment made early in the claim in cases where liability is clear-cut, the injuries are significant and there is a need for money on the victim’s part. It should be enough to tide you through the early stages whilst you are unable to earn any money. If the claim takes longer than expected, further requests can be made for additional payments. It is not uncommon at all for there to be several during the lifetime of a complex case.

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Q. My solicitor has told me he needs to start Court proceedings. I’ve not been to Court before and I’m a bit worried about it. Should I be?

A. Starting Court proceedings and actually going to Court are two very different things. If the claim is not getting anywhere, a solicitor will often issue (or start) Court proceedings. This does not necessarily mean you will end up having to go to Court. It is just part and parcel of the process of pushing the claim along. By starting the proceedings, a timetable is put in place to move the case forward and this usually puts some pressure on the insurers to settle the case. You should take assurance from the fact that very few cases actually end up in Court – less than 5% – so the chances of you having to turn up and be cross-examined are pretty slim.

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If you need advice on a scooter-related legal question, email stephen@wildwoodlegal.co.uk the best Q & A will be published in Scootering magazine in confidence.

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