AU was riding his bicycle uneventfully along the road when a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction veered and collided with him head on before hitting a lamppost. AU suffered catastrophic spinal and other orthopaedic injuries, rendering him unable to mobilise without assistance and aids and no longer able to care for himself. The driver of the car claimed that he had lost consciousness and was unaware of his actions leading to the accident. The defence of automatism means he would not be liable for the injuries he caused because he could not be held responsible for his actions.
The case was listed for trial on the issue of liability only. Expert evidence was obtained from both a cardiologist and neurologist as to the likelihood that the driver’s account being accurate. The experts were not in agreement as much turned on the evidence of the driver and witnesses as to the moments immediately preceding the accident. Less than two months before trial, a joint settlement meeting took place in order to narrow the issues between the parties. At this meeting, the driver’s insurer offered to settle the entire claim for approximately 90% of the claimed value which would have secured AU’s lifetime need for care and assistance, case management as well as aids and equipment.