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'Fundamentally Dishonest' Accident Victim Stripped of Award

The vast majority of accident victims are entirely honest, but there are sadly always a few who exaggerate their suffering with a view to upping their compensation. A High Court ruling served as a stern warning that those whose claims are infected by fundamental dishonesty are likely to go without a penny.

The case concerned a man who sustained serious orthopaedic injuries when a car in which he was a passenger was involved in a high-speed collision. He made a claim for very substantial compensation against the driver's insurers, who admitted liability for the accident. He asserted that continuing pain and limitation of movement in his right hip made it impossible for him to return to his pre-accident employment. His claim for loss of future earnings alone came to over £480,000.

The insurers, however, placed him under surveillance and he was filmed working at a local garage. The footage, amongst other things, showed him moving relatively freely and working on his back under a vehicle. Following a hearing, a judge found that he had exaggerated his symptoms to medical experts who had examined him in connection with his claim. He had sought to conceal his earnings at the garage and had been fundamentally dishonest about his earning capacity.

In nevertheless awarding him £49,415 in compensation, the judge ruled that it would be unjust to send him away empty-handed. There was no doubt about the severity of the injuries he sustained in the accident and it was true that he was suffering pain in his hip, although he had presented it as more debilitating than it was.

Upholding the insurers' appeal against that outcome, the Court stripped him of the award and ordered him to pay the insurers' substantial legal costs. There was no proper or adequate basis for the judge's finding that it would be substantially unjust to dismiss his claim in its entirety. His sustained dishonesty and his involvement of others in his deceit outweighed any injustice to him.

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