There will always sadly be a few accident victims who exaggerate their injuries with a view to maximising their compensation. A High Court ruling, however, showed the extent of legal and surveillance resources that insurance companies are willing to deploy in their determination to weed out dishonest claims.
The case concerned a father-of-two who lodged a claim for in excess of £600,000 in compensation following a workplace accident. Liability was admitted, but the insurance company that would foot the bill grew suspicious and put inquiry agents on his tail. Their surveillance reports prompted the insurer to contend that his claim was tainted by fundamental dishonesty and should be dismissed in its entirety.
In his claim, the man asserted, amongst other things, that the accident had rendered him barely able to walk, totally reliant on others and essentially housebound. However, the surveillance footage was said to show him driving and working under the bonnet of a car and walking freely on shopping trips without the use of a stick. Such activities were said to be wholly inconsistent with his claimed disabilities.
The man denied dishonesty but his claim was eventually struck out due to a failure to comply with case management orders. He was ordered to pay legal costs and to reimburse a £10,000 interim payment he had previously received. The insurer later launched further proceedings, alleging contempt of court.
In granting permission for those proceedings to continue to trial, the Court found that the insurer had, on the face of it, shown a strong case that the man had knowingly made false statements and either fabricated or grossly exaggerated the effects of the accident. If found in contempt, he would face a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment or an unlimited fine.