19 December, 2019
Evidence uncovered relating to a claimant's claims history led to the dismissal of his claim for personal injury following an alleged trip in a carriageway pothole.
The Claimant alleged that as he crossed the road, his foot went into a pothole, and he injured his ankle.
The Defendant carried out annual highway inspections. The defect had been noted on the highway inspection and reported for repair but unfortunately, the Claimant's alleged accident occurred before the defect had been repaired. The Defendant sought to rely on the defence contained in section 58 Highways Act 1980.
The Defendant had a number of concerns regarding the integrity of this claim. The fraud team carried out a forensic investigation, which revealed that the Claimant had made two previous claims for personal injury in 2008 and 2009. On behalf of the Defendant, Part 18 questions were put to the Claimant asking him to provide a description of his claim history. The Claimant admitted to making a previous claim against the Defendant in 2008 following an alleged accident on the highway but despite signing a statement of truth, he failed to mention a subsequent claim he had made in 2009 against a different highway authority.
The Defendant obtained details of the Claimant's previous claims including a copy of the Claimant's witness statement given in support of his personal injury claim in 2009. In the statement, the Claimant mentioned suffering a previous knee injury, but confirmed that this had been caused when he was playing with his daughter, rather than as a result of an accident on the highway for which he had received compensation.
During the trial, the Claimant was rigorously cross-examined in relation to the circumstances of the accident and in relation to his two previous claims for personal injury in 2008 and 2009.
The Claimant argued that he had simply forgotten about the 2009 claim but the Judge found that difficult to accept given that he had received £9,500 in compensation.
The Claimant provided a convoluted and baffling explanation as to why his witness statement in 2009 suggested that he had previously injured his knee when playing with his daughter rather than as a result of an accident on the highway in 2008.
The Claimant relied on a statement from a person who claimed to have witnessed the accident. However, in the course of the cross-examination a number of glaring inconsistencies arose between the Claimant and the eyewitness.
The Judge concluded that the Claimant had not proved on the balance of probabilities that the accident had occurred as alleged and he dismissed the claim. For completeness, the Judge considered the section 58 defence and found that the Defendant's highway inspectors had carried out skillful highway inspections and when the defect was picked up pre-accident, it was correctly prioritised for a 20 working day repair.
We are delighted with the outcome of this case. We were able to discredit the Claimant's claim by obtaining documents relating to his previous claims and by putting appropriate Part 18 questions to the Claimant. The evidence was then used to undermine both the Claimant's credibility and the claim as a whole at trial.