20 July, 2011
The Court has recently sent out a stark message to Claimants where they seek to bring civil proceedings for personal injury and then verify inflated and dishonest witness statements with a statement of truth.
In the case of Edward William Nield and Acromas Insurance Co Ltd v (1) Graham Jefferey Loveday and (2) Susan Loveday (13/7/2011) the Claimant was passed a nine month prison sentence for contempt of Court after verifying a witness statement that was said to be inflated and contaminated by dishonesty.
The first Respondent was a Claimant in a road traffic accident where liability was admitted and only quantum was in dispute. To support his claim the Respondent submitted a witness statement verified by a statement of truth which claimed the accident caused him a painful soft tissue injury to his neck and lower back, that he had severe mobility issues often needing a wheel chair, had to be cared for by his wife all the time, feared going out especially travelling by car and could not go caravanning or work on cars as he used to. He also stated that he had returned to his driving job on the day of the accident after recovering from a previous injury. The first Respondent submitted a letter from his employer in support of this. His wife, the second Respondent, verified a statement supporting his claims.
These claims were then proven to be false when the Applicants, the Defendants in the original claim, hired a private investigator. The investigator obtained surveillance evidence showing the first Respondent driving, walking unaided, climbing steps, going on caravanning holidays and working on a vehicle. It was also shown that he had driven to and from Italy on a holiday after saying he had flown there having been pushed through the airport in a wheelchair. Although it could not be proved he had not returned to work when stated it was found that the supporting letter from his employer had been forged by either himself or his wife. Contrary to his witness statement the first Respondent was also shown to have had many years of intermittent back problems before the accident occurred.
It was found that both the Claimant and his wife had both signed something they knew not to be true despite being warned by their solicitors the repercussion of doing so. Due to her admission and good character references the Claimant's wife was given a six-month sentence suspended for 18 months. The first defendant was given a nine-month prison sentence.
In a previous Forbes case, a Claimant was also given a nine month prison sentence for perjury after lying about the cause of his injury in a personal injury claim. The Court has once again demonstrated a commitment to take insurance fraud extremely seriously and where fraud is established they have shown a willingness to impose prison sentences to act as a deterrent to others.
For further information on the above case please contact Sarah Wilkinson on 01254 222433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For any fraud related issues please contact Chris Booth, Partner of the Forbes Insurer Anti-Fraud team on 01254 662831 or email Chris Booth.
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