Claimant fails to prove her case and blamed it on her Solicitor…


01 August, 2011

Stephenson v Salford City Council - DJ Latif - July 2011

Forbes Insurance department successfully represented the Defendant in a highway tripping claim which proceeded to trial.

Briefly, the Claimant alleged that she tripped and fell into a pothole on the 2nd May 2009 whilst crossing a road sustaining a soft tissue injury to her ankle and right wrist.

There were a number of inconsistencies within the Claimant's evidence with a decision being made by Forbes in conjunction with the Defendant to proceed to defend the matter to trial.

The Claimant relied on two witness statements at trial, and in cross-examination provided a contradictory account of the circumstances of the incident. The Claimant suggested that this may be because her solicitor took her instructions over the telephone, and did not explain that full details of the accident circumstances were required.

In relation to the fall itself, the Claimant was unable to provide a consistent version of events, with the Judge at one point commenting that she had provided numerous explanations. The Claimant was unable to provide evidence consistent with her statements.

The Claimant was also unsupported by her A&E records; they supported her assertion that she attended hospital on 2nd May 2009; however there was no mention of a fall or trip. The triage nurse's notes stated 'Has swollen right hand sustained during restraining dog'. The Claimant then saw a female junior doctor whose notes of the circumstances were 'At 06:00 playing with dog. Hand caught in lead and wrenched into forced hyperextension at wrist. Swollen wrist and fingers since pain.'

It was put to the Claimant whether it was possible that both the doctor and the nurse noted the circumstances wrongly. The Claimant stated that the nurse wrote nothing and the junior doctor got a more senior male doctor to look at her. The Claimant made no reference to seeing two doctors in her statement.

The District Judge found the Claimant's evidence unreliable, her account not credible and her recollection jaded. The claim was dismissed as she was unable to prove her case. The Claimant was ordered to pay the Defendant's costs of the action.

Forbes Comment

Despite having no oral witness evidence to dispute the Claimant's version of events, careful consideration of all the medical records enabled us to identify a crucial inconsistency in the case the Claimant was purporting to put forward. Following cross examination the Claimant's case was shown to still be lacking in veracity and therefore failed. Therefore, just because the Council may not be able to rely on their highways inspection to defend a case, does not mean the case needs to be settled. Documentation should be reviewed for inconsistencies in the Claimant's case that can assist in successfully defending cases.

For further information on this case then please contact Andrew Ellis, Partner at our Manchester office on 0161 918 0000 or email Andrew Ellis.
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