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Court Success: The Dismissal Of Fraudulent Claims



At a glance •Zurich celebrates the dismissal of three fraudulent Personal Injury claims •The claimants stated that each sustained whiplash type injuries •The Judge dismissed the personal injury claims to all three claimants Background On 13 August 2015 the three claimants were occupants of a vehicle travelling along a road in Belfast. At that time, to facilitate cable laying the insured had dug a track across the road to allow the works to be completed. Thereafter the insured temporarily reinstated the trench using temporary bitumen. The claimants alleged that the reinstatement was not carried out adequately, and therefore the car struck a pothole causing damage to the suspension, and one of the wheels. It was alleged that as a result of this they were significantly jolted within the vehicle, and each sustained whiplash type injuries. Liability The insured accepted erosion was caused to the temporary surface. It was therefore accepted that damage may have been caused to the vehicle in which the claimants were travelling. In the circumstances if the claimants were in a position to convince the Court that they sustained an injury they would have succeeded with their cases. Given the nature of the accident however we were not satisfied that the claimants could have sustained any injuries, and we therefore decided that the cases should be contested. We carried out detailed enquiries which included fraud searches. We also obtained the claimants medical notes and records, appointed our own Orthopedic Surgeon to examine the claimants and engaged the services of a Consulting Engineer to comment on the forces involved in the accident. Court Hearing The claimants were strongly cross-examined by our Counsel on the inconsistencies contained within the medical notes and records, the medical legal reports, and the evidence they gave at Court. Our Engineer gave evidence that although the occupants of the vehicle were likely to have been startled, and would undoubtedly have felt an impact, this would have had an negligible effect on the vehicle’s course and velocity. It was his view that, subject to medical opinion, the occupants of the car were unlikely to have sustained any injury. Our medical expert provided helpful reports which cast doubt on the injuries which the claimants allegedly sustained. Decision Upon hearing the evidence Her Honour District Judge Brownlee concluded that although there were inconsistencies in the claimant’s accounts she did not find this unusual given the passage of time which elapsed from the date of the accident until the trial dates. She did however state that the evidence of a Consulting Engineer was crucial combined with the medical opinion from our expert, and she therefore did not accept that there was any significant jolt caused to the claimant’s. Therefore on balance she did not accept that any of the claimants sustained an injury in the incident. In those circumstances she dismissed the personal injury claims of Murphy, Shannon and Johnson in full. Costs were awarded against the claimants in favour of the insured. Commentary This is yet another excellent outcome for Zurich and our customers, proving that people who are involved in accidents can no longer assume that they will be awarded compensation. By allowing cases to proceed to trial and by investing in Counsel, medical experts and engineers Zurich are fighting back against those who are attempting to defraud our customers. This claim was handled by Michael Fraser in our Glasgow Casualty Team. Our solicitors Tughans represented us at trial.
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