axel_knutt wrote:I got the application forms for the Small Claims Court once about 15-20 years ago, and the information pack that came with them said that the SCC has no powers to enforce it's own rulings. If the defendant knows that and chooses not to pay, it said that your only recourse is to the County Court, thereby incurring all the legal costs that the SCC was supposed to have been avoiding in the first place.
That is not relevant in this situation. The other person has motor insurance which will pay if they are found liable.
thirdcrank wrote:It's one of the thoroughly rotten features of our legal system that ordinary people are deterred from becoming involved and insurers and regular litigants milk that.
thirdcrank wrote:For the insurer to deny liability is AFAIK completely normal. People may find that distasteful but that's how it is.
thirdcrank wrote:The big advantage of a judge-only hearing on the balance of probabilities is that in a one-against-one situation, it largely comes down to who do they believe: whose evidence is the most credible? An experienced beak should be able to spot an unreliable witness, AKA a fibber in layperson's terms. That's always assuming the insurers don't do so sooner.
Although motor insurers tell their customers that in the event of an accident they should not admit fault to the other person, that is because some people may do so even though they were not
at fault, possibly because either they are by nature overly self-effacing and apologetic - the sort that will apologise if you
walk into them
- or are so shaken up by the accident that they are not a good judge of whether they were to blame.
Neverthless, in many cases the driver will admit to their insurer that they were at fault, and if it's clear from their account of what happened that they are not being too quick to accept blame, the insurer will not quibble about liability (although the amount
of compensation might still be the subject of dispute). For example, when someone drove into my car while I was stationary their insurer rang me to confirm that their driver had admitted responsibility and to ask if I needed them to arrange for me to have a hire car.
If their customer believes that they were not at fault, the insurer is duty bound to accept their customer's version of events to begin with. It's not the insurer's role to act as the judge and find against their customer, and make a payment to the claimant against the wishes/instructions of their customer. If they did so at that stage they would be in breach of contract, and could get themselves into a lot of trouble for acting without authorisation. If the claimant were to provide evidence that undermined their customer's version of events, then they would put that to their customer
and ask for their response, and if appropriate tell their customer
that they would lose if it went to court and ask their customer
to agree to let them settle the case.
Once a writ is issued that changes. From that point the insurance policy terms entitle the insurer to decide whether to defend the claim or accept liability, a decision which it will take based on its experience of handling many such claims and based on expert legal knowledge (of the claims handlers and - for contentious expensive claims - a QC's opinion). If they consider it sufficiently likely that they will lose (on a balance of probabilities) and that the costs of defending the claim would just be a waste of money, they will seek to settle at that point without going to court.
In this case we only have the OP's version of events, but based on those it does sound like the OP's account is - on a balance of probabilities - more likely to be true than the driver's, i.e. hit from behind versus overtaking, cutting in front and presumably then braking/slowing (how otherwise would the front of the car have made contact). The latter version requires the OP to have acted in a dangerous manner that would put him at risk of severe injury. Most people's natural sense of self-preservation makes such behaviour very unlikely; certainly less likely than a driver being careless and going into the rear of another road user (whether car or bike).
Whatever the driver told the police when they stopped him may also strongly influence the judge's view of the credibility of the driver, and his account of the accident. If the driver admitted to the police that he did not stop, i.e. a criminal offence (regardless of any decision by the police not to prosecute), I would expect a judge to be entitled to draw an inference from that about the driver and their standard of driving, i.e. not 'law-abiding'. I am fairly confident that the OP would be able to get a copy of that police report to submit as part of his evidence.
That all said, how the OP and the driver presented themselves at the court could be decisive. If the OP were to come across as aggressive, immature and a risk taker, he could easily sway the judge to disbelieve his account, but the same is true of the driver.
Based on the OP, I would be willing to bet a small amount that if the OP goes to the trouble of getting a copy of the police report and submitting a claim to the SCC (or whatever it is now called), the driver's insurer will accept liability rather than paying the costs of a solicitor to represent the driver and attend the court hearing.