Last minute winner! Why some injury cases settle just before a Court hearing.

Court-door

I’ve recently settled two long-running cases for clients within a week of the final hearings in the County Court. This was great news for the clients, who were both very worried about having to give evidence in front of a Judge and relieved to receive their compensation. I often wonder why insurance companies take so long to decide to settle cases when they could have done so much earlier and saved a lot of time, worry and legal fees.

One of these cases had been running for over 3 years. If the Insurers had offered the same amount to the client 3 years ago, they would have saved over £40,000 in legal fees and we wouldn’t have had to start the proceedings at all. It is well known that the Courts are overworked due to the numbers of cases they are handling, but if a common-sense approach was adopted by more insurers, their workload would be much less.

I have often been involved in cases that have settled in the Court building on the day of the hearing and just before they start – these are known as settlements “at the door of the Court”, which is the most expensive way for a case to be settled by insurance companies as both parties have incurred substantial amounts of costs for solicitors, barristers, expert witnesses and Court fees.

Insurers and their solicitors frequently complain about the amounts they spend on legal fees incurred by Claimants’ solicitors, overlooking that they are often the cause of the legal fees being so high.

Once a case is commenced in the Courts, the Insurers have to instruct their own solicitors, thereby incurring their own legal fees. In one recent case, the solicitors advised the Insurer (which had constantly denied liability for an injury to a child whilst at a nursery school) to settle the claim in full as soon as they were instructed, probably because they could see that the claim was bound to succeed. I wish more solicitor opponents would be so realistic and practical.

Not all Defendant Solicitors give the same advice to their Insurance clients, but if more took a sensible approach, then there would be more early settlements, less work for the Courts and less money spent on legal fees for the Insurers to complain about – not forgetting less stress for Claimants worried about giving evidence!

We always try to settle cases early and usually do, unless the Insurers want to run up a larger bill for themselves! For sensible and practical advice on bringing a personal injury claim, please call us on 0114 218 4049 or email me at jonathan.stittle@tayloremmet.co.uk.

On a personal note, both the cases I refer to were due to take place next week. Now they have settled, I am free to accompany Mrs Stittle on a short holiday, so there will be no weekly blog next Friday. I hope you enjoy your weekend  – at least there  won’t be a disappointing England Rugby performance to endure!

Jonathan.

 

 

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Our Personal Injury partner at Taylor&Emmet LLP. 0114 218 4049.

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