With Defendants and their insurance companies keeping a close eye on a Claimant’s activities following a personal injury, it is more important than ever to avoid being dishonest about how an injury has affected you.
There has been growing public interest in recent years over the number of sham or fundamentally dishonest Personal Injury claims, particularly in Road Traffic Accidents involving whiplash injuries. The rise in social media has also led to some Claimants being caught out when they have exaggerated the impact that their injury has had on them; for example, a semi-professional footballer who boasted about scoring a goal on social media whilst he was claiming for his injury.
Make no mistake that Defendants and their insurers are taking more and more action to try and reveal any sham or exaggerated claims and it appears that the Court is often on their side. The recent Court of Appeal case of HOWLETT, HOWLETT v DAVIES & AGEAS INSURANCE LTD (2017) looked at a decision made by a County Court Judge who determined that the Claimants had been fundamentally dishonest, despite the fact that the insurance company had not officially alleged fraudulence or fundamental dishonesty in the lead up to trial.
In this case the Claimants (a mother and her son) had alleged that they suffered a personal injury as passengers in a car. The insurance company expressed during the trial that they did not believe that the accident occurred “as alleged, or at all”. The Appeal Court found that the suspicion raised during the hearing was enough to allow the judge to decide that the Claimants had been fundamentally dishonest based on the evidence given by the insurance company.
You may be wondering what all this means practically and how being found fundamentally dishonest can affect you. Well, when you bring a Personal Injury claim you (i.e. the Claimant) are usually protected by “Qualified One-Way Cost Shifting” (or “QOWCS” for short). This means that you will never have to pay the Defendant’s legal costs for bringing a claim; whether you win or lose. However, being found to be fundamentally dishonest can strip this protection from you and leave you with a hefty legal bill to pay to the Defendant.
To put this in context, in the example of the semi-professional footballer above, he was ordered to pay £11,000 in legal costs – when he had only claimed for £3,000 in compensation for his injury! In addition, knowingly misleading the Court can open the door to potential criminal investigations against you.
Here at Jordans we take fundamental dishonesty very seriously and have the experience to inform clients of their responsibilities in a personal injury claim to ensure that they do not fall foul of this growing problem. Of course, clients who do not attempt to exaggerate their injury have nothing to fear in bringing a claim and can be rest assured that we are here to help you obtain the compensation you deserve following an injury.