The negotiating skills of lawyers who represent accident victims can be just as important as their knowledge of the law. In one case on point, skilful representation on behalf of a woman who was gravely injured when she fell off a bus succeeded in guaranteeing her substantial compensation despite the bus company's denial of blame.
The woman had fallen from the open back door of a double-decker bus as it moved away from a stop. She struck her head on the kerb, suffering irreversible brain damage. She had pushed a button to request a stop and her lawyers argued that the bus driver would have seen the impending danger if he had paid proper attention to a video screen showing passenger movements.
The bus company, however, denied liability for the accident on the basis that the woman had herself been careless. She was said to have stepped off the bus when it was moving and to have been wearing headphones that prevented her from hearing a customer assistant's warning that it was unsafe to disembark.
Following negotiations between her lawyers and those of the bus company, however, the company agreed to a settlement of the woman's case on the basis of two-thirds liability. The compromise was approved by the High Court. The amount of her damages has yet to be assessed but, given the extent of her disabilities and future care needs, her eventual award is likely to run into seven figures, even after a one-third reduction.