In a telling setback to the insurance industry’s campaign to crack down on fraud, a mother-of-two who was accused of grossly exaggerating road crash injuries in a bid for a £210,000 compensation award has been cleared of dishonesty by the High Court.
Extensive video footage of the woman had, over a total of 15 days, been covertly shot by private inquiry agents instructed by insurers for the other driver involved in the accident. It was submitted that the videos – which amongst other things showed the woman walking her dogs and carrying bin bags – had ‘demolished’ her claim that the accident had left her prey to ‘unremitting and crippling disability’.
The insurance company sought the woman’s committal to prison for alleged contempt of court on the basis that she had been deliberately dishonest in giving a false impression of her disabilities during medico-legal examinations and in sworn statements in support of her claim. After the video footage emerged, she had settled her case for £30,000, a fraction of the sum that she had sought.
However, in dismissing the insurance company’s application, the Court accepted the woman’s account that she had ‘good days and bad days’ and that, even when she pushed herself, she was only capable of doing anything active on about five or six days a month.
The woman accepted that it was ‘her fault’ that she had not made it clear to doctors that her symptoms were ‘variable’. However, the Court found that the video footage ‘never showed her doing anything particularly energetic or strenuous’ and was consistent with her account of her disabilities. The insurance company’s evidence had ‘fallen far short’ of establishing beyond reasonable doubt that the woman had deliberately lied or tailored her evidence with a view to boosting her case.