The Consequences Of Exaggerating A Personal Injury Claim
Who are BL Claims Solicitors
BL Claims Solicitors specialise in personal injury, clinical negligence and travel claims, providing our clients with hands-on support, nationally.
We are rated as one of the top firms in the UK and believe in speaking to our clients in jargon-free language and ensuring you're speaking to a highly qualified lawyer right from the outset
We are always alert to the possibility that Claimants may enhance the nature of their injury. It may be that this is entirely innocent as an aggrieved party is usually seeking compensation and understandably believes that they have suffered significantly and should be compensated accordingly. No Claimant's injury should be underestimated as each and every one is different and should be viewed as such.
However, an injury must not be exaggerated to such an extent that it becomes a lie. There is a huge difference between a slight exaggeration and that which amounts to a fraudulent claim.
All personal injury claims are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR), Part 32 dealing specifically with witness statements. Witness statements are considered to be key evidence and the importance of their content cannot be over-stated. A witness statement will stand as evidence-in-chief at any future trial and their fundamental purpose is to deal with issues of fact. Each and every statement ends with a statement of truth, namely the words "I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true." This statement is signed by the party making the statement.
CPR 32.14 sets out the consequences of verifying a witness statement containing a false statement of truth. This is a criminal offence and proceedings for contempt of court can be brought, punishable by imprisonment.
A recent, successful, committal hearing highlights these consequences in no uncertain terms.
The claim concerned is the case of Edward Nield & Acromas Insurance Co Ltd v Graham & Susan Loveday . The background to the claim is as follows. The Claimant, Mr Graham Loveday, alleged that the injuries he sustained in a road traffic accident extended to a severe injury to his neck and back, meaning that he could no longer work or drive and that he often relied on a wheelchair for mobility. He claimed that he was phobic about travel and could no longer enjoy his hobbies of vehicle maintenance and caravanning. Mr Loveday was a former lorry driver. Both Mr Loveday and his wife provided statements, verified by a statement of truth to this effect. His claim succeeded.
However, it seems that just weeks before signing the statements, the Lovedays had been holidaying in Italy. Mr Loveday had driven a Land Rover to Italy, towing a twin-axle caravan. After his return he told his solicitor that he had travelled by plane. The Defendant's insurers alleged that he had inflated his claim. He had acted dishonestly in exaggerating the value of his claim. They brought proceedings for contempt of court.
It transpired that Mr Loveday had posted photographs of him and his wife enjoying their holiday, to include photographs of him driving from his home in South Wales to the Italian Lakes. Further, surveillance footage showed that he was far more active and able than he claimed to be. It showed him driving, walking unaided, climbing steps and working on a vehicle. It also became apparent that he had many years of recurring back problems, contrary to his witness statement.
In his defence Mr Loveday attempted to claim that he had not read his statement and had signed it in ignorance of what it contained.
After a 2 day hearing, Mr Loveday was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and was taken to Pentonville Prison at the conclusion of the trial. Mrs Loveday was given a 6 month sentence, suspended for 18 months. They were both ordered to pay the Defendant's insurer's costs of bring the committal action.
The moral of this judgment is that Claimants must always be honest. They must always be truthful when stating the injuries they have suffered. If they do not, then they are in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Unfortunately fraudulent claims are becoming far too common but the message is clear â€“ both insurance companies and Courts will not tolerate it.
Perhaps the timing is coincidental, but it is interesting to note the recent Panorama report on the "cash for crash" insurance fraud.
For further information please contact Deborah Blackmore in our Personal Injury Team in Southampton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 023 8085 7446.
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