The excellent results keep coming for Mark and the Personal Injury team
23rd Dec 2020
Mark Hambling, Director in Rogers & Norton’s Personal Injury Department continues to achieve notable successes in the High Court, having recently agreed a substantial settlement in a fiercely contested liability and quantum claim, following an accident at work suffered by his client in 2015. The claim settled a matter of days before a hybrid High Court trial.
My client suffered serious injuries when working as a self-employed subcontractor for a main contractor who themselves were subcontracting to a further contractor whilst removing an evaporated coil of a large industrial freezer. To complicate matters further the site on which my client was working was managed by a separate company and the scaffolding, which was instrumental in my client’s injuries was installed by a separate scaffolding contractor. My clients injuries were such that in addition to the current pain, it was very likely his condition would deteriorate effect his long term earnings position.
As a result of the accident in November 2015 my client was thrown from a working platform whilst attached by a Lanyard to scaffolding which it was alleged by the scaffolders was never intended to provide a fixing point for fall protection, but which collapsed during the construction work. Between December 2015 and November 2018 the insurers for the contractor, subcontractor, site coordinator and scaffolders continued to challenge my client’s claim, continued to blame each other and made no offers in settlement whatsoever. Each Defendant denied liability but failed to appreciate the extent to which my client was the innocent party and on the balance probabilities likely to recover damages, as the only definite conclusion was that the failing identified in the evidence were not caused by my client. The case did not settle and given the strength of the evidence I had been able to put together, court proceedings were issued in the High Court. Despite these proceedings discussions did not take place between the Defendants and instead each Defendant continued to blame each other and fully defend the clients significant claim for damages. The case involved 5 parties and a substantial volume of documents as to the arrangements concerning the site management, the contractual arrangements between the contractors and subcontractors and the various risks assessments and method statements relating to the conduct of the task in the contract, during which my client sustained very significant injuries upon the scaffolding collapsing causing my client to be pulled from the working platform.
The case involved witness evidence from 13 witnesses and the Court proceedings were necessarily brought against all four Defendants, all of whom along with my client the Claimant served substantial documentary evidence.
The issue of proceedings and disclosure exercise within the proceedings did not bring the case to a conclusion, despite my efforts to continually indicate to each Defendant the good prospects of my client succeeding against at least one of the four Defendants and therefore recovering my clients costs of being forced to pursue all four Defendants.
The case was listed for trial for 4 days starting on the 9th November 2020 and despite efforts by the Defendants to apply to adjourn the trial as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, I was able to persuade the Judge that the case should continue and could be conducted safely in a hybrid manner, with witnesses giving evidence both in Court whilst socially distant and remotely by way of the Court’s video platform, a procedure regularly adopted over the last 7 months. Indeed, given the case was due to proceed in London and many witnesses for both sides of the dispute living in Norwich, our Willow Lane office was due to be set up as a remote video location for giving evidence via the court’s cloud video platform with appropriate PPE, sanitizer and full social distancing arrangements in place to allow the witnesses attendance to be timetabled to be given safely.
Shortly before the trial was due to start, the Defendants finally put forward a joint offer which after some negotiation led to my client recovering a substantial six-figure award in damages to compensate for the pain suffered and the likely long term consequences of his injuries. Additionally my client’s costs of pursuing all four Defendants will be paid by those Defendants against whom he has been successful and my client has no liability for any costs in respect of those Defendants who did not contribute towards the final settlement. In those circumstance an excellent outcome in respect of the claim but also the costs.
This was a case where the Defendants should have grasped the issues as regards the likelihood of my client winning his claim at a much earlier stage. I made every effort to draw to each Defendant’s attention the various deficiencies in their case and the level of my client’s damages and invited them to take a proportionate and cost-effective approach to the litigation to save costs. It was not until I was able to persuade the Court, despite objections from the Defendants, that the case should proceed as a hybrid trial, that the Defendants saw the strength of my client’s case. As a result of further negotiation and having maintained a strong stance on both liability and quantum throughout the litigation a very favourable settlement plus costs was negotiated for my client.
It was helpful and important to the case that the court were prepared to allow a hybrid trial with evidence being given in court and remotely. As a result of putting forward alternatives which allowed a safe trial with remote witnesses and social distancing in court to take place, the Defendants finally saw the prospects of my client’s case and entered in to sensible negotiations to achieve a resolution. It is however relevant that costs could have been significantly been saved if the Defendants had reacted to the inevitable outcome earlier, rather than being almost forced to the settlement by the presentation of the evidence and the trial options at the point the trial was listed.
I am delighted to obtain an excellent outcome for my client and grateful for the appreciation provided to my client at the end of the case. As he said to me, “you were confident the case would succeed, backed me all the way to trial, allowed me to understand and be confident in your advice and your tactics were spot on. I am so thankful for you and your teams hard work to obtain this excellent outcome”
Mark Hambling is a Director of the company’s Personal Injury Department, a Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and a specialist at handling high value and complicated personal injury claims. Mark will consider cases on a No Win No Fee Agreement and is happy to offer an initial discussion as regards any claim without obligation and cost. Mark can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and by telephone on 01603 666001.