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Quantifying catastrophic personal injury claims is often a complex and time-consuming exercise, which requires a consideration of an extensive quantity of evidence. Clyde & Co’s insurance company client, AXA, was faced with a particularly high valued claim, arising out of a catastrophic road traffic accident in 2017.
AXA’s policyholder collided with a motorcycle carrying a husband and wife. As a result of the accident, both sustained life changing injuries, which meant that they would require mobility aids, adapted accommodation, and care for the rest of their lives.
Liability was admitted at an early stage, and Clyde & Co’s Scottish team was called in to investigate quantum and negotiate a settlement on the best terms possible.
The pursuers’ agents obtained and produced extensive medical evidence detailing the nature and the extent of the injuries suffered by the pursuers. This was followed by an investigation of how these injuries would impact the claim in terms of the care, accommodation, aides, and adaptations that the pursuers would require.
As the wife’s injuries were less extensive, albeit still very serious, her claim was dealt with first. The claim was settled out of Court, for a sum in the region of £850,000. Once this claim was resolved, the focus turned towards Mr Stagg’s claim.
In this case, Mr Stagg’s solicitors and advocate produced a Statement of Valuation of Claim (SVC) for a sum in excess of £5m. This consisted of various heads of claim including solatium (pain and suffering), past and future wage loss, past and future care, aides, treatment costs, and accommodation. Vouching was provided in support of each head of claim. However, on reviewing the SVC and vouching in great detail, Clyde & Co identified several discrepancies.
“The Statement of Valuation was supported by hundreds of pages of evidence and vouching. Following our review in painstaking detail, we identified that many pieces of vouching had accidentally been provided in duplicate and, in some cases, triplicate” says Vikki Melville, Partner in the Catastrophic Injury and Large Loss Team in our Edinburgh and Glasgow Offices.
“The identification of these errors resulted in a saving of a significant amount of money for our client.”
Vikki Melville, Partner
The nature of the husband’s injuries meant that his home at the time was no longer suitable, and he and his wife would require a much larger property, extensively adapted to fully meet their needs. This was one of the more complex aspects of the claim and involved an interpretation and application of the approach taken in the relatively recently decided English case of Swift v Carpenter. In that case, the Court devised a calculation which would fairly compensate pursuers in claims for accommodation, while avoiding the recipient’s estate receiving a windfall, and effectively benefitting, upon their death. Clyde & Co therefore had to consider that decision in the context of this claim and its potential application in Scotland.
The work put in by Clyde & Co, in collaboration with the pursuer’s agents, in quantifying the claim meant that at a pre-trial meeting in October 2021, a settlement of £4m was agreed. This was gross of around £250k of interim payments made by AXA throughout the action to cover the pursuers’ ongoing needs.
This case demonstrates Clyde & Co’s ability to handle extremely complex quantum disputes. Attention to detail was particularly important in this case and resulted in a significant saving to the client. Close collaboration between Clyde & Co and the pursuer’s agents was also key to ensuring both cases could be resolved effectively.
Melville concluded: “Quantifying catastrophic personal injury claims is always a complex exercise. It is critical to ensure that all heads of claim are properly investigated and vouched, working closely with the pursuers’ agents, so that any settlement is justified and agreed by both sides. That was our job in this case, and we were happy to see it draw to a satisfactory conclusion.”
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