David Shaw-Matthews v THO Logistics Ltd | Coventry County Court | 19th February 2019
The claim presented by the claimant, a carpenter was for an 8 week injury and physiotherapy charges. The claim arose from an RTA which occurred when the Policyholder’s vehicle, a Renault Tractor Unit (with a gross weight of 44,000kg) came into contact with the rear of the vehicle being driven by the claimant – a Citroen Berlingo van.
The defendant driver reported that the accident occurred at an extremely low speed in heavy traffic and firmly disputed the injury claim presented. The owner of the vehicle being driven by the claimant did not pursue a vehicle damage claim. Despite alleging severe pain, the claimant did not visit his GP. On the paper evidence the claimant was wholly inconsistent with regards to the duration and onset of his alleged injuries, therefore the decision was made to proceed to trial.
The trial took place at Coventry County Court before HHJ Gregory. The claimant and the defendant driver gave oral evidence. The judge was satisfied that this was an extremely minor accident and insufficient to give rise to significant damage.
He found the claimant’s evidence to be ‘misleading’ and ‘patently untrue’. He concluded: ‘…in attempting to explain his injuries he was completely tied up in knots..In my judgment he knows very well he sustained no injury. I well understand that is a serious and unwelcome finding, but it is more than justified in this case…It is clearly a fundamentally dishonest claim’.
The claimant was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs assessed at £9,400.
What we can learn
The strategy of advancing a robust defence from the outset and seeing this through to trial paid dividends.
Whilst there was a huge disparity in the weights of the vehicles involved which may otherwise have led to different course of action for some insurers this did not discourage DCL from adopting a firm stance to what was clearly an opportunistic claim. The decision of HHJ Gregory sends a clear message to claimants pursuing dishonest and opportunistic claims that such claims will be challenged and can have significant financial implications.
“I am delighted that DCL’s robust claims processes to challenge dishonest claimants coupled with the great work undertaken by Horwich Farrelly has resulted in a finding of fundamental dishonesty. We will continue to fight to protect our commercial policyholders when we believe it is right to do so and hope that this case will send the clear message of intent on behalf of DCL and our valued policyholders”
Carl Cripps, Head of Claims, Direct Commercial Ltd
“This case sends a very strong message to anyone considering exaggerating or dishonestly pursuing a claim. This is a fantastic result for DCL as it further strengthens the message that insurance fraud will not be tolerated and we hope this successful outcome will encourage the industry to tackle more fraudulent claims.”