Claimant Found Fundamentally Dishonest After Tailoring Evidence

Together we are Forbes


03 October, 2018

Chris Booth
Partner and Head of Insurance

Hartley v Preston CC

A claimant whose case for personal injury included multiple descriptions of the accident circumstances was found to be fundamentally dishonest at the conclusion of his trial.

The case

The claimant alleged that on Saturday 28th November 2015 at approximately 4.30pm he was walking along a residential road when his right foot got stuck in a hole where a street sign used to stand causing him to fall to the ground. The claimant sustained injuries to his nose, cheekbones, ribs and right ankle.

The day after the accident the claimant attended A&E and the triage nurse recorded in the claimant's notes 'Pt states tripped over kerb and landed face down last night - had alcohol on board'. According to the medical records he suffered facial injuries only.

The injuries the claimant sustained were inconsistent with a tripping injury. The claimant alleged that he had been walking with both hands in his pockets and fell flat on his face. It was put to the claimant that surely he could have managed to get one hand out to break his fall or attempted to roll to one side to avoid hitting his face on the ground. The claimant also suggested that his entire ankle went into the hole, then when shown the photographs of the defect had to concede that his ankle would not have fitted in the hole.

When the claimant was examined by the medical expert, he confirmed that when he attended A&E following the accident he was x-rayed and told that he had suffered broken ribs yet there are no references to this in his medical records and in fact it is clearly recorded that he sustained no injuries other than the facial injury.

At the trial the claimant sought to argue that the triage nurse had got it 'completely wrong'. He also contended that he had not been drinking. The Judge did not consider this to be believable; the triage nurse had included a detailed account of the accident circumstances and the injuries. In particular, the Judge stressed that as the defect was situated at the furthest edge away from the kerb the triage nurse would not have had any reason to mention a kerb unless it was causative of the accident.

In conclusion, the Judge surmised that the numerous inconsistencies in the claimant's evidence and his changing evidence was "wholly incredible". Not only had the claimant failed to prove his case but on the balance of probabilities the Judge found that he had been fundamentally dishonest. QOCS was therefore overturned and the claimant was ordered to pay the Defendant's costs.

Forbes comment

The Judge shared our sheer disbelief at the claimant's evidence and found that during the trial he had repeatedly tailored his evidence. It is hoped that cases such as this will act as a deterrent and send out a clear message to those who have ongoing claims against the council or who are considering bringing spurious claims.

Further information on this case can be found here.

For more information contact Chris Booth in our Insurance department via email or phone on 0161 918 0002. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Insurance department here

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