Fraudulent claimant sent to prison
February 5, 2014
By Beth King, head of personal injury
In 2008, a claimant suffered head injuries in a road traffic accident when a lorry knocked him off his bicycle. In fact, he was very lucky and made a full recovery so his compensation would have been a modest amount.
However, he was greedy. With the help of his wife and another person who later acted as his "litigation friend", he claimed that his injuries were much more severe and that he had permanently impaired cognitive function (an inability to look after his own affairs –hence the need to have a litigation friend to act for him in the case and give instructions to his solicitors and barrister.)
He managed to fool 4 expert doctors who all agreed he had impaired function and needed special equipment and adaptations to his home, and required constant care from his wife and others. His initial claim was for £1 million. The lorry driver's insurers made an offer to pay him £75,000 but he refused to accept it. The insurers had their doubts and hired private detectives who uncovered the fraud. The insurers then made another offer to settle – we don't know how much but it was probably considerably less than their earlier offer of £75,000 as it was clear the claimant had fully recovered and was fit for full time work within 2 years of the accident. The claimant accepted it.
The claimant, his wife and litigation friend later admitted the fraud perhaps because the evidence of their guilt was so clear.
The insurers then applied to the Court to commit the fraudsters to prison for contempt of Court.
On 4th February 2014, the claimant and his litigation friend were sentenced to 9 months in prison. The wife was said to have played a smaller role in the fraud and had a 15 month old child to care for so was sentenced to only 7 months suspended for 2 years.
Don’t be tempted to exaggerate or make things up to get more money. You will probably be caught out somewhere along the line – by your own solicitors who will expect you to pay their fees even if you were on a no win, no fee arrangement; or by your opponent's insurers who share information with other insurers and have no qualms about using surveillance to catch you out.
You will get the bare minimum compensation for those injuries which aren't in doubt but it won't be enough to cover your own solicitors' fees and the legal costs of your opponents. If you have legal expenses cover – either before or after the event insurance – your insurers won't pay out because you will be in breach of the policy terms.
And then there's the risk of being sent to prison for contempt of Court…
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