BOOK REVIEW: AN INTRODUCTION TO PERSONAL INJURY LAW
I reviewed David Boyle’s book on expert evidence earlier in the year. He has presumably decided to forego all forms of social interaction and has now written a general introduction to Personal Injury. The book places some emphasis on the “power of three”. I decided to set out my three favourite quotes.
The book is an introduction to personal injury law. It covers the law of tort in general, before looking at specific areas – road traffic, public liability and employer’s liability. There is a section on limitation (wisely divided between the legal issues and the factual issues) before issues of damages are considered.
My favourite chapter heading is “Things you don’t want to know”. This, understandably, is about cost – “the past and the future”.
WHAT THE BOOK IS GOOD AT: THE RULE OF THREE
The introductory chapter contains important practical and strategic observations.
“The rule of three for claimants:
A claimant wants to get as much as possible, as quickly as possible, with as little risk as possible, but cannot have all three. That analysis should form the basis of all decision-making from the claimant’s perspective of the case…”
“The rule of three for defendants:
Defendants fight a case to trial for one or more of three reasons: To discourage the next claim, to resolve irreconcilable differences in the instant case, and/or a failure to appreciate that the case does not fall into one of the other two categories. From time to time somebody points out that cases sometimes fight because ‘the solicitors hate each other’ but, viewed closely, that tends to be a situation where both sides want to put down a marker for the next claim, their differences therefore become irreconcilable and they each then fail to realise that the case should be settled before trial, a combination of all three.”
These wry observations can be found throughout the text. Another favourite of mine is
“The difficulty is often that a case will run for so long that it is hard to achieve the necessary distillation of the issues and/or the documentation before trial. The important point is this: a party should prepare a case on the basis that it will get to trial and that his actions will be assessed by the court. His disclosure should be properly considered. His witness statement should balance the need to be thorough with the need to get his point across, and should concentrate on the real issues in the case. A little thought about what is or isn’t important makes a statement far more compelling when it is read by the judge, and if it’s true, that will become clear. The real nub of personal injury litigation is to identify the appropriate end point of the process and to work out how to get there, rather than just advancing, one step at a time, across a minefield, towards the enemy’s machine gun posts.”
This is not a detailed guide to procedure, however it is a useful and practical guide to personal injury law. It is aided by the author’s nuggets of wisdom and practical experience. Further guidance is needed if a litigator is going to navigate the minefield of contemporary procedure, however this is a useful tool in every litigator’s armoury.