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Dishonest motorcyclist left with nowhere to u-turn following FD finding

  • 31 August 2021 31 August 2021
  • UK & Europe

  • Insurance & Reinsurance

By following our Project Martello strategy we were able to achieve a finding of fundamental dishonesty against a property consultant who fabricated claims for injury and lost earnings.

Dishonest motorcyclist left with nowhere to u-turn following FD finding

The claim was brought following an RTA involving a motorcycle, being ridden by the Claimant, and the Defendant’s van. The Claimant pleaded that the Defendant had negligently driven his vehicle into collision with the Claimant’s motorcycle, whilst performing a U-turn. The Claimant claimed for personal injuries and associated losses.   

Liability was disputed. The Defendant’s case was that he was stationary at the time of the collision, and the Claimant drove into his vehicle. It was accepted that the Claimant had been injured given X-rays showed he had fractured his collarbone.

Based on the Defendant’s version of events, a Defence denying liability was filed and served.

Part 18 questions were put to the Claimant. In his responses he maintained his position in respect of all aspects of his claim for both personal injury and special damages, stating his restrictions were all as a direct consequence of the accident.

As the case progressed, further investigations were carried out in relation to the Claimant’s special damages.

Of particular concern was the loss of earnings element. The Claimant suggested he had been off work for approximately 17 months following the accident and claimed benefits. DWP records were therefore requested, and when reviewed it became clear that there was something untoward about the Claimant’s claim.

The DWP records confirmed that the Claimant attended a DWP appointment, three months after the accident, by taxi. Just over two weeks after his attendance, he wrote to his local MP stating just how difficult his life had become.  He complained to his MP that his benefits should not be cut as he was  unable to walk more than 200 metres, unable to ‘flag down’ a taxi due to the pain in his arms and he had difficulty lifting the phone to his ear, lifting a pen, writing or typing.

Our investigations revealed that shortly after the Claimant’s letter to his MP, the DWP received a phone call from the Claimant at the beginning of which he had to remove his motorcycle helmet in order for conversation him to be ‘better understood and heard’, as he was about to use his motorcycle. This call had been recorded and was used in the DWP’s evidence against the Claimant’s appeal as clearly this demonstrated the falsities in the Claimant’s initial letter.

The DWP records became vital in the defence to the Claimant’s claim and initiated a number of additional investigations. This was eye opening in respect of the Claimant’s claim for hire, vehicle damage, loss of earnings and injuries.

The Claimant served an engineers report, confirming that his motorcycle was ‘undriveable’ and ‘beyond economic repair’. As a result of this, the Claimant claimed for hire for a period of 55 days soon after the date of the accident. Our investigations uncovered YouTube footage posted by the Claimant himself which showed him riding his own motorcycle, the one which was involved in the accident, during the period of hire. 

The Claimant suggested that his business had collapsed as a result of his inability to work. It was unsurprising at this stage that following investigations this was not quite the case. We discovered the Claimant was appointed as a Director just three weeks following the accident, remaining in this position until around eight months after the accident. Even after the termination of his directorship he maintained a key interest in the business. This was noted in his social media post where he posted about his excitement to finally have the keys to his new office, and at deciding how to do the refurb.

At the same time as the Claimant had suggested to his medical expert that he was unable to sit for 20-30 minutes he had posted on Facebook photographs of a motorcycle trip to Snowdonia, some 280 miles from his home address. It became clear that the Claimant was also exaggerating his injuries and the evidence was stacking up to support this.  

Following our Project Martello strategy, an application was made to amend the Defence, with the intention of pleading fundamental dishonesty. In addition, we applied to put Part 35 questions to the medicolegal expert, and to treat the engineer assessor as an expert so that Part 35 questions could also be put to him.

The Claimant’s representatives resisted this application and responded with an application for summary judgment. Our application was granted with the Judge awarding us wasted costs following the Claimant’s somewhat frivolous attempt to resist.

The engineer initially refused to reply which resulted in the Claimant’s representative coming off record, leaving the Claimant as a litigant in person.

The matter proceeded to trial, where the claim was dismissed in full, and the Claimant was found to have been fundamentally dishonest. Costs were awarded in full on an indemnity basis.

This case shows the importance of undertaking thorough research into all aspects of the Claimant’s claim, as a small inconsistency can turn out to be the key to a successful s.57 defence. Clear and concise Part 18 questions allow the Claimant a second chance to consider their position in respect of their claim, however if responded to untruthfully, can result in a home run for the Defendant.  

 

End

Additional authors:

Peter Smithson (Senior Associate) and Michelle Broome (Trainee Solicitor)

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