On 2nd August 2017, Ryan was riding his Harley Davidson XL883 Sportster motorcycle on his commute home from work. He accessed the slip road from Denny Loanhead, near Bonnybridge, in order to join the M876 heading south when he was suddenly hit from behind by a vehicle and thrown from his motorcycle. The car driver admitted that he had been distracted by his crying child in the back of the car, had turned around and simply hadn’t seen Ryan.
Ryan contacted Motorcycle Law Scotland while he was still an inpatient in hospital. He had sustained a significant fracture to his left femur as well as soft tissue injuries.
Ryan was employed at a Call Centre and did not get paid during his period of absence. He was worried about how he would cope without any income. We went to see Ryan when he was still in hospital to put his mind at ease and to ensure his claim could be intimated swiftly to the party at fault.
As we anticipated, on intimation of the claim to the insurance company of the driver, liability was admitted early on, but that’s where the co-operation ended.
Insurer tries to buy off Ryan with a pre-medical offer
Knowing that Ryan had financial pressure, the insurer made an early ‘pre-medical’ offer. This is where an insurer attempts to “buy off” a claim before medical reports have been made available. Some claimants find it difficult to resist such offers, but until the full medical picture is known, we always advise against accepting early settlement without medical evidence. Once an offer is accepted, there is no entitlement to seek any further compensation.
We immediately put the insurers on notice that we would not consider a pre-medical offer and needed to investigate Ryan’s injuries in detail so that we could understand the future impact on his life, especially as he was only 33 years of age at the time of the incident.
Ryan’s leg injury was so severe that he required multiple surgeries. He had to attend hospital on numerous occasions for reviews and was left with a leg shortening. A leg length shortening is relatively common in femur fractures which result in surgery. Leg length discrepancy results in an altered gait and that can cause back pain and discomfort.
Accordingly, we instructed an Orthotics report as the shortening of Ryan’s leg meant that he could only walk with the aid of a walking stick. An orthotic, or shoe insert, can rebalance the leg difference making walking a lot more comfortable. There is a cost for orthotics and also the cost of replacements because generally they need to be replaced every 5 years or so.
Insurers continue to bully motorcyclist into early settlement
The insurers continued to bully Ryan into early settlement. They made offers of £20K, £25K and £30K despite our calls to them that the offers were premature. Rather than assisting Ryan with his recovery they sat back. In many ways, the insurer’s conduct made our decision to proceed to Court an easy one. There was no engagement in treatment for Ryan and despite pre-medical offers being discouraged by the insurance industry, this particular insurer proceeded on with no shame. They simply mounted a campaign of putting Ryan under pressure at a time when he was vulnerable.
Thankfully, once in Court, the matter was transferred out of the insurer’s hands and into the hands of their nominated solicitors. Only at that point, were we able to have sensible discussions following presentation of the medical evidence. Settlement was reached for Ryan at almost three times the original insurer’s offer.
Never settle a claim until the full long-term impact of the injury is understood.
We will never allow an insurance company to bully our clients into under-settling their claims. Pre-medical offers are akin to dangling a carrot under a client’s nose and it’s all too tempting to accept an offer at an early stage against a background of financial hardship. The best way to proceed is to secure an interim payment to ease the financial burden and then ingather all the medical evidence required to assess the correct level of compensation.
Following settlement Ryan had this to say; “I would also like to thank the team for their rugged determination in getting me what I deserved, as the defenders were trying to short-change me. This would have really set me back financially if I had not had a team as dedicated as the team at Motorcycle Law Scotland.”