BLM on behalf of AXA Insurance has secured a finding of fundamental dishonesty against a claimant alleging significant vehicle damage and injuries even though they were not in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
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The defendant, insured by AXA Insurance and represented by BLM, reversed from a parking space on a petrol station forecourt and collided with the claimant’s stationary vehicle, which was situated at the petrol pumps. While the defendant accepted there had been contact between the vehicles, the claimant, Mrs Nighat Rani, pursued a claim for vehicle repair costs of £1,723.08 and alleged she had sustained personal injury in the collision, including neck and back pain which took four months to fully resolve.
The contradiction between the damage caused to the stationary car and the injuries alleged by Rani raised the suspicions of the BLM Fraud Hub who pursued a fundamental dishonesty charge.
Discussing the reason for following this line of defence, BLM solicitor acting for AXA Insurance, Timothy Russell said: “Given the circumstances surrounding the collision, compared with an assessment of the damages, we identified the potential for a case of fundamental dishonesty. The claimant’s description of extensive vehicle damage could not have been caused by the minor collision, nor could she have suffered the injuries she claimed as the defendant specifically recalled the claimant putting the fuel nozzle back into the pump after he had gotten out of his vehicle.”
The matter proceeded to trial where Mrs Rani provided inconsistent accounts including stating she had put the fuel in and returned to sit in the vehicle, giving her cards to her passenger to pay at the kiosk. It was during this time she claimed the collision occurred.
The judge noted her contradictory medical evidence in which she alleged sustaining whiplash injuries to “his” neck, right shoulder and arm, upper and lower back and right knee, yet no reference was made in the claimant’s medical report to those areas.
Although stating at trial that she in fact did suffer those injuries, Mrs Rani did not inform the expert or mention it in her signed witness statement as they were only “minor injuries”, arousing suspicion. Asserting that her vehicle was a total loss when it was not and having signed the schedule of loss in respect of vehicle damage, Mrs Rani admitted she hadn’t read the all the necessary reports and wasn’t with the engineer at the time of inspection. She was also found to not have attended her GP or walk in centre, despite saying she believed she had.
The judge found in favour of the defendant and felt that Mrs Rani could not prove she was in the car and had made contradictory assertions.
BLM’s Timothy Russell said: “The claimant was exposed during cross examination for the shameless way that she intended to take advantage of the situation, intent on financial gain. Meanwhile, the judge commented on the strength of credibility attached to the defendant’s evidence, in addition to the disparity between damage and injury.”
A costs order was issued against Mrs Rani for £6,892.64 to be paid within 28 days.