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 By Katherine Flashman Kitson 

Here in Devon and Cornwall we are all driving on single lane country lanes all the time. It’s part of life. Accidents do happen on these lanes. Insurance companies/lawyers will try to persuade you that it has to be knock for knock / 50/50. Don’t accept this. It doesn’t.


Accidents on country roads are like accidents anywhere. You have to examine the facts to find out who was to blame for the accident and that frequently does not lead to a conclusion of 50/50 although the insurers will try this on every time.


In determining where liability rests you need to look at the respective speeds of the parties, the positioning of the vehicles, how the accident actually occurred, what each party said and whether there were any witnesses, even just passengers in the vehicles as there are unlikely to be independent witnesses.


In most accidents that we see there is a party at fault and liability should rest 100% with that party, not on a 50/50 basis between the parties.


Think about it, this makes a huge amount of difference to a claim. If your car gets written off and you have suffered injuries your losses may run into tens of thousands of pounds. If you accept 50/50 you would only get 50% of that loss. Plus if you accept 50/50 the other driver would claim 50% of their loss against you when the reality is you should be getting 100% of your loss and they should not be able to make any sort of claim against you/your insurers, which could affect your no claims bonus.


It is not only insurers who try to argue that accidents on country lanes are 50/50. We see lawyers advising clients to accept 50/50 deals on these types of accidents all the time. These are lawyers who are not familiar with driving on country lanes in Devon and Cornwall and are probably based in city locations and have no idea what the actual facts of driving are down here. Don’t accept their advice.


A recent case we were involved in highlights this point perfectly. Our client was driving his tractor along a country lane when another vehicle came around the corner too fast, not positioned correctly and collided with him causing an accident. His vehicle was damaged and he suffered injuries and brought a claim. He was referred by his insurers Cornish Mutual to their panel solicitors. A claim was made and the other side offered 50/50. At first he rejected it. Six months’ later the offer was made again of 50/50. He wanted to reject it but his lawyers to whom his insurers had referred him, told him that he should accept it. He wasn’t happy as he knew he had done nothing wrong in the accident and the accident was entirely the fault of the other driver.


Thankfully he instructed us and within a couple of months we had persuaded the other side’s insurers that this was not a 50/50 case and they admitted liability fully on a 100% basis.


In his case his claim is worth tens of thousands of pounds, which he therefore stood to lose half of if he had accepted the deal his lawyers were telling him to.


Therefore if you are involved in an accident on a country road make sure you have the right lawyer and ideally instruct us. I drive on country roads every day and I know exactly what that is like and I would never advise a client to accept 50/50 in an accident that wasn’t their fault. It comes down to getting the right advice from someone with the right experience and from a firm who gives clients the best service. Don’t do what insurance companies tell you, don’t go to the lawyers that your insurance companies suggest you go to. Go to a lawyer you can trust to do the best job.


For more information please contact Katherine Flashman Kitson at Parnalls. 01566 772375