17 August, 2012
Mustafa v Salford City Council - 15 August 2012
DJ Obodai (Manchester County Court)
Forbes recently successfully defended Salford City Council in a claim for personal injury following an alleged trip on the highway.
The Claimant alleged that he tripped on a piece of protruding metal work, believed to be an old gate post, on 24th March 2010 apparently sustaining a minor head injury, injuries to the back, neck and shoulders and lacerations resulting in scarring to the right arm and thigh.
It became clear from the outset that there were a number of inconsistencies within the Claimant's evidence. The Council had carried out checks on the Claimant which had brought to light a previous personal injury claim against Trafford MBC, however the medical report denied any previous claims and made no reference to any entry in respect of this within the medical records.
As a result of the inconsistencies we were able to gain access to the Claimant's medical records which made no reference to any accident on or around 24th March 2010 but did record an earlier accident for which a claim had been brought against Trafford MBC. Additionally, upon a thorough reading of the records, it became clear that there was a real possibility that the scarring which the Claimant alleged arose as a result of this accident, was in fact as a result of a previous medical procedure.
The Claimant had alleged within his witness statement that he had attended his GP, a hospital walk-in centre and the hospital orthopaedic department on a total of 6 occasions following this incident. No records were found at any of the institutions.
A decision was therefore taken to defend this matter to a final hearing and put the Claimant to proof as to the cause and happening of the accident and the alleged injuries.
The trial was heard at Manchester County Court on 15th August 2012 with the Claimant the only person to give evidence. He was subjected to a lengthy cross-examination as to the inconsistencies throughout his case. During cross-examination the Claimant denied any previous personal injury claims and upon the letter of claim being produced from his previous claim, the Claimant alleged that the information must have been passed to those Solicitors by Trafford MBC themselves after he had made a complaint about the highway.
When cross-examined on the lack of any record within his medical records the Claimant suggested that his GP surgery never noted what he told them and as result he had changed practices, the hospital he believed may have become confused due to him moving address at the age of 14 (the Claimant being 20 at the time of the accident). The Judge described these explanations as "absolute nonsense".
As a result of the significant inconsistencies within the Claimant's evidence the Claimant's claim was dismissed with an order that he pay the Defendant's costs. The Judge was particularly scathing of the Claimant stating in her Judgment that "the Claimant has come to Court to lie, expecting, astonishingly, that he would be believed. With every question put to him the answers became more incredible."
Despite the lack of any statutory defence to this claim and no oral evidence to dispute the Claimant's version of events, with careful consideration of the medical records and following checks on the Claimant's claims history we were able to establish significant inconsistencies within the Claimant's evidence. Counsel paid particular attention to these inconsistencies in cross examination and the Claimant was unable to satisfy the Court as to the cause and happening of this accident.
This highlights that cases do not necessarily need to be settled simply because there is no statutory defence. A careful review of the documentation can open up an alternative avenue to defending claims of this nature.