A Claimant has been sentenced to prison for nine months for contempt of court after exaggerating a personal injury claim following a road traffic accident. He was found to have made false statements to inflate the value of the claim and his wife, who supported and verified the false statements, has been given a six-month suspended sentence.
Insurers have today welcomed the Court's decision in the case of Edward Nield & Acromas Insurance Co Ltd v Graham & Susan Loveday (2011) as it reflects a shift towards a tougher approach on Claimants who exaggerate personal injury claims.
The Claimant had initially alleged that the road traffic accident, for which the Defendant had accepted liability, caused him to suffer a severe injury to his neck and back which meant that he could no longer work or drive and often relied on a wheelchair for mobility. The Claimant had provided witness statements and had signed a statement of truth stating that this information was true. The Claimant's wife had also prepared a witness statement to support his description of the injuries and loss and she too had submitted a statement of truth.
The insurance company had undertaken surveillance of the Claimant and obtained video footage showing that he was far more active and able than he had alleged. The Claimant had also posted photos on his Facebook page of him driving from his home in South Wales to the Italian lakes, despite claiming that he had flown to the destination and used a wheelchair throughout. (Also see Facebook finds Fraud in Crash for Cash).
Despite the high burden of proof in cases of this nature the Court held that the Claimant had knowingly made false statements regarding the nature and extent of his injuries and such statements had interfered with the course of justice. This test reflected the requirements set down in the case of Carol Walton v Joanne Kirk (2009), which held that an exaggeration of a claim is not automatic proof of contempt of Court; but it is in the public interest to ensure that personal injury claimants pursue honest claims and do not significantly exaggerate these claims for financial gain.
This case is an example of the noticeable increase in the number of insurers choosing to bring actions for contempt of Court against Claimants who fraudulently exaggerate personal injury claims. (Also see Cash for Crash Fraudsters Sentenced in Motor Insurance Crackdown).