A defendant lawyer has warned that the courts are no longer willing to indulge claimants racking up £400,000 in credit hire costs.
The conclusion was reached after a ruling from Nottingham County Court in Harries v Baguley where the claimant had accumulated the hire costs following her collision in 2016.
The court found the defendant was not to blame for the accident and refused to recovery of the hire costs. It is still unclear who will foot the bill.
The court heard that the claimant was still hiring a replacement vehicle at the time of the hearing and had done so throughout the two years and nine months since the collision.
This, said the judge, had created a claim for hire charges alone that amounted to a ‘substantial’ six-figure sum.
The claimant had been unhurt following what she claimed was a collision caused by a car reversing into the road in front of her. The defendant said the accident was solely the fault of the claimant because his car was stationary at the side of the road and he was not even in it at the time.
The judge found the defendant had parked his car lawfully and was not in the vehicle at the point of impact. The claimant was found to have driven into it through negligent driving.
Melanie Mooney, partner at Keoghs who represented insurer Aviva, said the court’s decision was a ‘stark warning’ to credit hire companies who fail to take a reasonable stance and ‘blindly’ continue to provide a vehicle at significant cost. She said it was 'a reckless decision' by the hire company to allow hire charges to carry on for nearly three years ‘without thought or a care to the potential cost to the innocent motorist in terms of increased insurance premiums’.
Mooney added: ‘Insurers need to take a firm stance on cases like this and demonstrate that it won’t be tolerated. The costs to be recovered from the claimant, aside from the hire charges for which she is responsible, will be significant.’
The insurance industry appears increasingly concerned about the prospect of higher credit hire claims when the Civil Liability Act comes into force next April. With personal injury damages subject to a reduced tariff, the assumption is that claims management companies will load up costs in areas like credit hire and rehabilitation which will still be recoverable.
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