A driver who exaggerated his injuries and falsely claimed his children were in the car at the time of his accident has had his case dismissed after a finding of fundamental dishonesty.
The personal injury case, which went to trial and concluded recently, centered on a claimant who alleged that an Allianz policyholder collided with the rear of his vehicle after he changed from the inside lane.
The claimant stated that he was in shock and that the “other driver could clearly see the road ahead and simply refused to slow down”. The claimant also alleged that he was accompanied by his two children.
According to the Allianz policyholder, the claimant’s vehicle was speeding along the left-hand lane and tried to cut in front of traffic before pulling into a gap between the defendant and the vehicle in front. The Allianz policyholder said the claimant applied his brakes suddenly, which led to impact between the two vehicles.
Independent witness evidence supported the Allianz policyholder’s account, noting that she could see no reason for the claimant to have suddenly braked.
Due to the concerns surrounding the nature of the incident, the defendant raised fundamental dishonesty. BLM, representing Allianz, investigated and obtained a forensic engineer’s report reviewing the damage to both vehicles. The claimant alleged that the damage caused was two puncture wounds to his rear bumper.
It was clear there was nothing on the front of the Allianz policyholder’s car that could have caused the alleged damage. Conclusions from the forensic engineer directly contradicted the claimant’s witness evidence, in which he alleged “there was considerable damage” to his vehicle as a result of the accident.
At trial, the judge accepted Allianz’s engineering evidence and found that the vehicle had not been damaged in the accident.
The court found that the claimant had “repeatedly misrepresented the circumstances of a road traffic collision”, and falsely alleged that he had sustained injury, notably pain in his neck and back.
BLM reviewed the claimant’s medical records, which showed he had been involved in five previous road traffic collisions, attributing personal injury to all. The claimant had dishonestly told his expert he had been involved in one previous accident in 2014.
When BLM put this to the claimant’s expert, he acknowledged the claimant’s omission to advise him of his previous accidents.
The claimant had also attended his GP three months after the index accident where he was described as being “chatty and well in himself”, while in the meantime alleging to his expert that his injuries were severe enough that he needed to take painkillers and struggled to sleep.
BLM obtained the claimant’s initial call to his own insurance company. The claimant had advised the insurer, a day after the accident, that the accident and injury “was nothing serious just a little bit shaken”. Again, directly contradicting his evidence that the neck injury started on the day of the index accident. This evidence was used at trial.
The claimant had offered to discontinue the case during the trial and pay “some costs”. At trial, District Judge Haisley was highly critical of the claimant, noting contradictions in his medical evidence, reporting of vehicle damage and the nature of the accident.
He also noted that the claimant brought claims on behalf of his two children, both of whom were not seen in the vehicle on the day. He therefore found the claimant to have deliberately and fraudulently misrepresented the accident circumstances to bring a claim and had deliberately caused an impact after braking in anger following his own “aggressive and dangerous driving”.
The claimant was found to be fundamentally dishonest and was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs, in excess of £15,000. Overall, the savings to Allianz amounted to more than £30,000 in damages and legal costs.
BLM fraud partner Carole Eaton commented: “Some drivers tend to think that if they have been hit in the rear it is open season to bring a claim for injury, loss and damage regardless of the circumstances of the collision, the magnitude of the accident or even if they were injured or not. There is a perception that their claim will not be challenged or scrutinised. This case is a warning to all those claimants fraudulently targeting insurers in this way.”
James Burge, head of counter fraud at Allianz Insurance, added: “We are very pleased with this outcome.”
“We hope that this case serves as a warning to other opportunistic fraudsters: if you exaggerate your insurance claim, you won’t get any compensation and you may end up out of pocket.”