Bond Dickinson has won a landmark case for bus company Go North East against a fraudulent personal injury claim.
The case was heard at Gateshead County Court where a Judge ruled that not only should a fraudulent personal injury claim be struck out, but that the solicitors acting for the claimants should pay all of the defendant bus company’s costs after they were found to have made “serious and persistent” failings.
It came about following an incident on Tyneside where a Go North East bus scraped the side of a car while driving at 5 mph. The car driver and the passenger, who was a child, did not complain of any injuries at the time. The damage to the car was paid for promptly by Go North East.
About 18 months later, claims for injuries was made against Go North East by both the driver and the passenger. Although the driver told his insurers seven days after the accident that no one was injured, a personal injury solicitors firm in Macclesfield actively encouraged them to make a claim, suggesting that there would be financial reward. The driver and the child’s mother produced medical evidence from an expert suggesting that they were injured.
In its unprecedented move, the Court ruled that the case should be thrown out on the basis that it had no prospect of success and because the child’s mother had misled the medical expert. The Judge also said that there was serious misconduct by both the mother and solicitors and that the firm should be ordered to pay Go North East’s costs.
Paul Hughes, legal director at Bond Dickinson, said: “This case shows that courts can and will take a tough line on shoddy and unscrupulous personal injury solicitors.
“It is vital that organisations stand up to bogus claims and that individuals who may have been involved in accidents are not misled by solicitors suggesting financial reward. This case should be a warning to personal injury solicitors and individuals that fraudulent cases will be thrown out of court and that false claimants can successfully be pursued for the defendant’s costs”.
Go North East’s managing director, Kevin Carr said that the case showed that the root of the problem of the UK’s so-called claims culture in would appear to be “unscrupulous” claims management and law firms who were encouraging members of the public to bring false claims to court purely in the pursuit of financial gain.
“We take a firm stance against any companies or individuals who attempt to obtain money from our company by deception,” he said.