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Guilty until proven innocent?

I was interested and concerned to read the letter from Paul Wearden (Money Marketing, May 3) regarding Axa Equity & Law&#39s seemingly unreasonable refusal to meet a permanent disability claim. The same company refused an accidental death claim for a client of mine.

My client was a pedestrian when he was hit by a car while crossing a road. He died instantly. Neither the driver nor the passenger in the car tried to blame my client for the accident. The road was unlit and they simply did not see him until the last instant.

This was a tragic accident which cut down a man in his late 20s and left a three-year-old boy without a father.

Axa Equity & Law took the view that because my client had alcohol in his bloodstream (he was one and a half times over the drink-driving limit), this must have been a factor in the accident, even though he was not driving, and they refused the claim.

They offered no supporting evidence despite engaging private investigators to visit the accident site and interview friends and colleagues.

What little evidence existed was all in my client&#39s favour. The vehicle was being driven on dipped headlights on an unlit country road when full beam was appropriate, there was only one skid mark (raising questions over the efficiency of the vehicle&#39s braking system) and the last two people to see him alive both described him as being “well in control of himself.”

All this cut no ice with Axa Equity & Law and we were horrified to find, after taking this case to the PIA Ombudsman Bureau, their ruling was the onus was on us “to prove that alcohol had not been a cause of the accident”.

Like Paul Wearden, I too am disappointed with Axa Equity& Law. Their refusal to offer my client the benefit of being innocent until proven guilty appalls me and leaves his family short of £100,000.

Ralph Patterson


BIS Life & Pensions

Willaston, South Wirral


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