Those who followed the blog I used to write about my part-time bus and coach delivery job (it's been converted into this now) might recall I had a minor accident just before I retired in 2008.
Driving in the outside lane, I had been exiting a roundabout when a lady driver had become confused and, although in the nearside lane, attempted to continue round the roundabout again and, in so doing, collided with the hire car I was driving. There were no personal injuries; so, having exchanged details, I reported the matter to my employer and we assumed the matter would be resolved by the insurance companies.
A couple of months ago, however, the best part of eighteen months since the accident, I was advised that the 'other party' had submitted a statement which alleged that the collision took place beyond the roundabout and (to add insult to injury) that I had 'cut across' the other car.
As you can imagine, I wasn't best pleased and, when asked to attend a court hearing, I was more than willing. So, this morning (having driven up to the east midlands and stayed in an hotel last night), I met up with a barrister who had been hired by 'our' insurance company to represent me.
It was only at that point that it was explained to me that, in legal terms, 'they' were the claimants and I was the 'defendant'. So, having been 'not best pleased' when I arrived at the court, I soon became something approaching 'pretty damned cross' - and rising.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I wouldn't be surprised if the lady's husband (or his insurance company) thought they might be able to take advantage of the fact that there were no witnesses. Furthermore, the photographs which had been presented to the court suggested it was possible that the damage could have been caused by my car cutting across theirs.
As it happened, however, the judge decided that they were of a rather poor quality and seemed grateful that I had brought copies of my own colour photographs of the hire car. Having examined them, he decided that they left little doubt that the damage was the result of 'impact' from another car rather than the consequence of cutting across one.
A further piece of significant evidence was the engineer's report for the lady's car which (although it was presented by the 'other' side) revealed that most of the damage was at the front end of her vehicle - not in the area alleged to have been hit by me.
The upshot of all this was that the judge, in his summing up, said that all the evidence supported what I had said and not what the lady alleged and, in dismissing the claim, awarded costs to 'my side'. So, although I had already been assured that my expenses would be met, it now meant that 'they' would have to pay them - instead of 'us'.
For the past few weeks, although I suspect her husband may have persuaded her to commit perjury, I had been quite worried about the prospect of having to call a (or any) lady a liar. To add to my unease, the poor woman was said to be in tears immediately prior to the hearing and, although we were only feet apart and facing each other throughout the procedure, not once did her eyes meet mine. However, as my barrister explained to me, it wasn't what I said which influenced the judge's decision, she was condemned by her own testimony.
At the end of it all, although, I had been a little miffed at being called 'the defendant', it was actually my former company who were being charged and I, personally, had nothing to gain or lose from the judgement. Nonetheless, I can't deny that I drove home quietly satisfied with the outcome.