FFW advises on landmark motor insurance case
Fieldfisher (FFW) has been instructed by the widow of a passenger killed in a car accident to bring a unique claim for damages against the uninsured driver and the Motor Insurer's Bureau (MIB).
The widow’s husband died from catastrophic injuries sustained in a road traffic accident in August 2002. He had been travelling as a passenger in his own car which was being driven by an uninsured driver. FFW’s client brought claims for damages arising from the uninsured driver’s negligence. The MIB was joined as a defendant to the claim because the driver was uninsured.
A preliminary hearing took place on 11 May this year in which The High Court ruled that the MIB would be liable to satisfy judgement against the uninsured driver. In its defence the MIB unsuccessfully argued that it should not be liable because the claimant's husband, who was the owner of the car, knew that the driver was not insured. As the claimant's husband had this knowledge, the MIB argued he would have been unable to recover damages from them had he survived by operation of an exclusion clause in the Uninsured Drivers Agreement 1999.
However, the Judge held that the exclusion clause clearly applies to passengers who know that their car is being driven by an uninsured driver. The claimant in this case was not a passenger and so the exclusion clause did not apply to her.
Paul McNeil, personal injury partner at FFW, comments: “This has been a fascinating case to work from a legal perspective. The case considered the wording of the Uninsured Drivers Agreement and in particular on exactly what was meant by the word ‘claimant’. We successfully argued that the term applied to the widow, rather than the husband.”
Although the Defendants were refused permission to Appeal by the Trial Judge His Honour Judge Seymour QC, the MIB have decided to seek, much to the widow’s disappointment, permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal.