BLM secures fundamental dishonesty finding

29 Jun 2021

Claimant found to have “repeatedly misrepresented the circumstances of a road traffic accident”

A driver who exaggerated his injuries and falsely claimed his children were in the car at the time of his accident has had his case dismissed after a finding of fundamental dishonesty.

The facts of the case

The claimant alleged he was driving in the inside lane when he saw the lane ahead was closed due to road works. He claimed to have changed lanes when it was safe to do so but a few seconds later the defendant’s vehicle collided into the rear of his vehicle. He stated that he was in shock and that the ‘other driver could clearly see the road ahead and simply refused to slow down’. The claimant also alleged that he was accompanied by his two children.

The defendant said the claimant’s vehicle was speeding along the left hand lane and trying to cut in front of traffic before pulling into a gap between the defendant and the vehicle in front. The defendant said the claimant applied his brakes suddenly,  which led to impact between the two vehicles.  Independent witness evidence supported the defendant’s account, noting that she could see no reason for the claimant to have suddenly braked.

Due to the concerns surrounding the nature of the incident, the defendant raised fundamental dishonesty. BLM continued its investigation and obtained a forensic engineer’s report reviewing the damage to both vehicles. The claimant alleged that the damage caused was two puncture wounds to his rear bumper.

It was clear there was nothing on the front of the defendant’s car which could have caused the alleged damage. Conclusions from the forensic engineer directly contradicted the claimant’s witness evidence, in which he alleged ‘there was considerable damage’ to his vehicle as a result of the accident. The judge accepted the defendant’s engineering evidence and found that the vehicle had not been damaged in the accident.

The court found that the claimant had “repeatedly misrepresented the circumstances of a road traffic collision” as well as falsely alleged that he had sustained injury, notably pain in his neck and back.

BLM reviewed the claimant’s medical records which showed he had been involved in five previous road traffic collisions, attributing personal injury to all. The claimant had dishonestly told his expert he had been involved in one previous accident in 2014. When BLM put this to the claimant’s expert, he acknowledged the claimant’s omission to advise him of his previous accidents. The claimant had also attended his GP three months after the index accident where he was described as being ‘chatty and well in himself’, in the meantime alleging to his expert that his injuries were severe enough that he needed to take painkillers and struggled to sleep.

BLM, representing Allianz, obtained the claimant’s initial call to his own insurance company. The claimant had advised them, a day after the accident, that the accident and injury ‘ was nothing serious just a little bit shaken’; again directly contradicting his evidence that the neck injury started on the day of the index accident. This evidence was used at trial.

At trial

The claimant had offered to discontinue the case during the trial and pay ‘some costs’. At trial District Judge Haisley was highly critical of the claimant noting contradictions in his medical evidence, reporting of vehicle damage and the nature of the accident. He also noted that the claimant brought claims on behalf of his two children, both of whom were not seen in the vehicle on the day. He therefore found the claimant to have deliberately and fraudulently misrepresented the accident circumstances to bring a claim and had deliberately caused an impact after braking in anger following his own ‘aggressive and dangerous driving’.  The claimant was therefore found to be fundamentally dishonest and was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs, in excess of £15,000. Overall, the savings to Allianz amounted to over £30,000 in damages and legal costs.

BLM Fraud Partner Carole Eaton said:“ Some drivers tend to think that if they have been hit  in the rear it is open season to bring a claim for injury, loss and damage regardless of the circumstances of the collision, the magnitude of the accident or even if they were injured or not. There is a perception that their claim will not be challenged or scrutinised.  This case is a warning to all those claimants fraudulently targeting insurers in this way.”

James Burge, Head of Counter Fraud at Allianz Insurance: “We are very pleased with this outcome. Our customer was involved in an accident because the vehicle before him braked for no reason. The driver who caused the crash then lied about the circumstances of the collision and the extent of his injuries; he even pretended his children were in the car to claim additional compensation. It is a relief that a court has rejected his claim as fundamentally dishonest and ordered him to pay the costs.

We hope that this case serves as a warning to other opportunistic fraudsters: if you exaggerate your insurance claim, you won’t get any compensation and you may end up out of pocket.

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Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to clients of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

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Carole Eaton

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