Our specialist motoring solicitor Andrew Prendergast is back to guide you through motorcycle legal trials and troubles.
Will the Judge be on my side?
Q: I have been a self-employed electrician for the last 15 years. About two years ago a Mini pulled out of a side street directly in front of me. I couldn’t do anything apart from slam into the side of the vehicle. I broke my femur and shattered my collar bone. A long recovery followed and I didn’t work for about a year. I reckon I have lost about £60,000 in earnings as that’s what I usually earn in a year. However, my solicitor reckons I can only prove I have lost about £20,000 in light of my tax returns. I have done my nut as she works in an office and clearly doesn’t get how the real world works. Like every self-employed person, I don’t put everything through the books and on my tax return. However, I can show the Judge my bank accounts evidencing the money stopping after the accident. I’ve told my solicitor I am going to sack her and represent myself. The accident wasn’t my fault so I do not see why I should lose out. Do you think a Judge will be on my side?
A: I’m sorry you got spanked in the accident. However, griefing your solicitor because you didn’t declare all your income is not going to help you. Without trying to sound too preachy, you made a decision to defraud the State and pay less tax. And now you want to tell a Judge that whilst you lied for financial gain before, you are telling the truth now. To be fair, a Judge may accept your evidence and make an award on that basis, i.e. you were earning about £60,000 a year before the accident. That said, the Judge and/or the Defendants may also report you to HMRC for not declaring all your income over the years. If you give evidence that have earnt an additional £40,000 a year ‘off the books’ without paying the tax and National Insurance (NI) for, say 15 years, the HMRC may come after you for the tax and NI owed on the £600,000 earned, but not declared over the years. So the choice is yours. Do you want to gamble? By the way, not all self-employed people are like you.
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Q: I have always toyed with getting on two wheels and for my BIG FIVE O I passed my test and bought an old Africa Twin. Just before the summer ended this year, I was cruising down the road heading home when a van coming from the opposite direction hooked a right in front of me. The result was me clumping the wall of the van and breaking my ‘proper’ hand. I use the word ‘proper’ as my left hand only has the index finger and a thumb after an accident in a canning factory years ago (I kid you not! As a man with only one ‘proper’ hand the effects are naturally worse for me, but my paralegal (is that even a solicitor?) doesn’t seem to get it and has told me to settle the case for £10,000. I am not even back at work yet and I am super worried. Does having a hand like mine make any difference to the amount of compensation I should get, or do people get treated the same so there is no ‘discrimination’? My paralegal said he thought so.
A: There is no way you should be settling your claim yet, you only get one chance to settle your claim. You cannot come back for further compensation at a later date, such as for future loss of earnings. If your paralegal suggested that all people are ‘treated the same’, they are just plain wrong. The old phrase is you ‘take your victim as you find them.’ So, if you are a man who breaks his one ‘proper’ hand you will need compensation for your particular losses. These will likely be very different to mine as a man with two ‘proper’ hands. My advice is do not settle yet, do some research and get a solicitor who is used to dealing with complex cases. Don’t risk your case with the current paralegal. He doesn’t seem to know his arse from his elbow and as a point of note, a paralegal doesn’t need any formal legal qualifications. A solicitor does. That doesn’t means solicitors always get it right. However, it does help if those running cases know some basic legal principles.
The MoreBikes legal column is compiled by managing partner Andrew ‘Chef’ Prendergast and his bike-riding barristers and solicitors at White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors.
The firm deals with personal injury claims and its sister company, Motor Defence Solicitors, deals with all the motoring offences. White Dalton lawyers have a vast knowledge of bike law, and they have full bike licences, too. They don’t act for insurance companies or the prosecution. White Dalton is Britain’s premier specialist motorcycle law practice, and if its professionals don’t know the answer to your question, there probably isn’t one. Don’t rely on the advice from your insurance-appointed solicitor, get proper independent advice.
For road traffic offences, call the Motor Defence solicitors on 0800 280 0912. For non-offence cases, call White Dalton motorcycle solicitors on 0800 783 6191.
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