Do I Need to Identify The Driver Of The Car Who Hit Me?
Posted on 1st April 2020
A 2019 Supreme Court Decision in the case of Cameron v Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd, has given a further ‘get out of jail free’ card to insurance companies. MG Legal, your personal injury Solicitors Garstang, have looked into this case and the possible issues it may raise.
Ms Cameron was driving her Ford Fiesta when it was hit by a Nissan Micra, which subsequently fled the scene. Ms Cameron brought a claim against the policyholder of the insurance covering the Nissan, issuing County Court Proceedings against the policyholder, Mr Bahadur. Later in the claim, the insurer of the Nissan, Liverpool Victoria, were also included in the proceedings.
As the case progressed, it became clear that neither Mr Bahadur, nor the named driver on the policy, were driving at the time of the collision. Ms Cameron pressed her claim against Liverpool Victoria and whilst she was successful in the initial Courts, the Supreme Court, the highest Court in the land, ruled that this was not correct and that because the driver was untraced, the Motor Insurer’s Bureau Untraced Drivers Agreement was the correct way to pursue the claim.
A technicality wins the day for the insurer?
Yes, whilst many insurers and Defendant Personal Injury Solicitors are hailing this as a victory and many Claimant solicitors are saying all fault parties are now offered a way out of any claim by simply fleeing the scene or denying who they are, this is not entirely true.
Certain procedural mistakes led to this point, firstly attempting to issue proceedings against a party who was clearly not driving the vehicle was the first and later in the case, this was amended to plead “an unnamed and unidentified driver”, relying on insurer’s obligations under Section 151 of the Road Traffic Act to tie Liverpool Victoria to any Judgement.
The main issue was that, as the proceedings were being pursued against a fault party who could neither be identified, or proceedings served on them, there was no realistic, legal route to obtain Judgement and so, any subsequent obligations of Liverpool Victoria as Defendant’s insurer, or Second Defendant, could not be established.
What is the Motor Insurer’s Bureau?
The Motor Insurers Bureau is a government backed entity which is funded primarily by motor insurers (in other words if you drive a car, you pay for it) which steps into the gap left by any uninsured driver or untraced vehicle. If the vehicle is uninsured, there is little different in making a claim, although if the driver is untraced, or if the vehicle flees the scene, things can be a little trickier, but not impossible, to conclude. MG Legal, your personal injury Solicitors Garstang, have successfully assisted many clients with various claims against the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, including for people who have been victims of “Hit and Run” incidents.
Does this actually allow parties to deny their identity to defect the claim?
In reality, no, firstly because no matter what their opinion on fault or the scale of damage and injury caused, the vast majority of people will get out of a car following a collision and identify themselves. Secondly, as long as there is reasonable cause to identify the fault party, the route of pursuing the insurance company under the Third Party (Rights Against Insurers) Act 2010 remains viable.
It does create a potential for insurers to create confusion and to attempt to either under-settle claims or to dissuade people from claiming on this basis, making it seem like the Supreme Court is on their side. In practice in the legal world, Case-Law can come from the highest authority, such as the Supreme Court, however, it is only as strong as the similarity with the case in front of you.
How can I avoid this?
Make sure you document as much as possible at the scene of any accident. Ideally, ask to see a copy of the other driver’s ID. If this is not possible, write down a description of them at the scene or try to capture them in a video – it often pays to take video at the scene of the vehicles in any event and so you can combine the two if necessary without actively putting your camera phone in the driver’s face. Most drivers are fully licenced and insured to drive their vehicles and so will have no problem showing you any proof you require.
In a personal injury claim, evidence is as important as any other claim. It is paramount. However, your safety is also important, and should you feel in any way uncomfortable or if the other driver becomes aggressive or hostile, we recommend calling the police and if necessary, leaving the scene – you can always use the MIB scheme if necessary.
Even if you cannot get the Police to attend the scene, it is often worthwhile reporting the incident to them anyway, which can often be done over the telephone or by attending your local station. The Motor Insurer’s Bureau and insurers alike, often use the lack of a Police Report as a shield to deflect any claim. Making a report is, in reality, a paper exercise and it is rare any action is taken; however, it is often a useful piece of paper to have later in a disputed claim.
What to do after a Road Traffic Accident?
Usually, the quickest way to deal with vehicle damage is to use your Fully Comprehensive insurance, if you possess it. However, it is also possible to pursue vehicle damage alongside a Personal Injury claim using MG Legal, your personal injury Solicitors Garstang. We aim to accept all Personal Injury cases on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) to ensure you have the access to the representation you need.
Contact MG Legal by phone, email, web-contact form or at any of our offices in Garstang, Lancaster and Longridge. We will put you through to a member of our Personal Injury team who will discuss your case and look to get the ball rolling the same day.
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