Fundamental dishonesty in accident compensation claims
Proving your claim and fundamental dishonesty
Claims for damages for personal injuries, pain, suffering and loss of amenity, are assessed based on medical evidence and the evidence of the injured claimant and sometimes their family and friends. In addition to the claim for the injuries, there can be a claim for financial losses and expenses arising from their injuries.
These claims include loss of earnings, care and assistance which may have been paid for privately or provided by friends and family, medical and travel expenses, etc. Each case is considered individually based on its own merits.
Dishonest claims and possible consequences
In recent years there has been a lot of focus on dishonest claims. An example of this is when someone exaggerates a perfectly legitimate claim by stating that their symptoms or losses are worse than they are in reality. The consequences of this can be very severe and the claim can be dismissed altogether if a person is found to be fundamentally dishonest in relation to any part of it. In such circumstances, the claimant will not receive any damages and will have to pay the legal costs of both sides. In some extreme examples, a person making a false statement to the court in any court document filed or served in support of the claim, can be also prosecuted for perjury and/or contempt of court.
Defendants’ insurers occasionally instruct enquiry agents to follow claimants and film their day to day activities. If the film shows someone doing something, which they said that they could not do, then that will be used as evidence of dishonesty and this can result in the claim being dismissed, even if the claim was genuine. A genuine claim can be dismissed if any part of it was dishonest.
Using posts on social media as evidence in civil proceedings
Claimants often do not realise that in the era of social media, their private details, chats and photographs are in the public domain and under scrutiny. There have been cases of claimants informing a medical expert that they are unable to run because of their injuries, who were later to be found showing off their achievements on their Facebook page. These were used by their opponents to discredit their credibility and consequently, their claims in court.
Therefore, it is crucial to make honest statements and fully understand the content of any evidence, which is being submitted to your opponent in support of your claim.
It is also advisable to be very careful about posts on social media. Even innocent comments can be misconstrued. You never know who is reading your social media posts. Levenes have had cases where innocent comments were capable of being interpreted in a way that would undermine the credibility of the Claimant. In that particular case, what was an innocent hobby of restoring cars, looked like it might have been a professional car restoration business based on comments on Facebook. We had to go to great lengths to get evidence to prove that the comments did not undermine the Claimant’s case. That extra work and a lot of anxiety for the client would have been avoided if he had taken greater care with his social media posts. Thankfully, their was a happy ending in that case.
Preserving evidence in your claim
It is also important to be able to prove your claim by documentary evidence, especially if a claim is substantial. For example, if you claim that you have spent hundreds of pounds on painkillers but you are unable to provide any invoices, bank statements or any other documentary evidence to verify this, such a claim is unlikely to succeed and you might be found not a credible witness in your claim. Once a court finds that a person is not very credible, then the court will view with scepticism anything that the person says, even if other parts of the claim are credible. In this way, small exaggerations or unwise embellishments of a genuine claim can spoil what is otherwise a very good case. Therefore, it is important to retain any evidence and to be able to prove that the claims you make are legitimate. If losses are estimated, then there is a risk that the estimate will be viewed as unrealistic and this can sour the rest of the case.
Understanding what you are signing
We have also seen examples, when we have been asked to consider taking over claims from other solicitors, examples of claimants approving medical reports and signing statements of truth on legal documents, setting out details of their claims, without understanding what it meant, as their level of English was insufficient and the content of these document was not explained to them in their native language.
In another case, not conducted by Levenes, a Claimant likened the signing of his Schedule of Loss as being like signing off one’s accounts prepared by an accountant – what he meant was that he did not properly read them. That sort of carelessness will land a claimant in trouble with the courts or the tax authorities!
How levenes can assist you
Levenes solicitors speak your language and can advise you in simple language on what you can legitimately claim and the content of any evidence used in support of your claim.