On 2 November 2020 William Hamilton represented the Defendant insurance company in a claim for damages for alleged injury following a minor accident in a supermarket car park. The Claimant, aged 25 at the time of the accident, worked as a claims manager in relation to credit hire claims. He was the passenger of a stationary car which was struck by another car being reversed out of a parking space by the Defendant’s insured. The Claimant alleged that he suffered classic whiplash type injuries and entered into a conditional fee agreement in relation to his claim 2 days after the accident. The Defendant’s insured, aged 87 at the time of the accident, was uninjured. He did not attend trial to give oral evidence due to the current pandemic.
The trial judge noted the following areas of particular concern:
1. The Claimant accepted under cross-examination that his medical expert had asked him whether he had ever suffered any similar previous injuries and whether he was ever involved in any previous accidents. The Claimant’s medical expert recorded that the Claimant had no significant history of relevant musculoskeletal problems. In fact, the Claimant had been involved in four previous road traffic accidents as a result of which he had allegedly suffered similar injuries (3 of which led to him making compensation claims). The Claimant also had a history of lower back pain which he had failed to disclose to the expert.
2. In his witness statement the Claimant stated that all of his injuries resolved within 6 months. In his oral evidence, the Claimant stated that an injury to his lower back persisted for a period of 10 months, reflecting the prognosis period within his medical report which he said he had read on the morning of trial. The trial judge found that the Claimant had attempted to extend the duration of his lower back symptoms to fit with the documentary evidence.
3. In his witness statement the Claimant alleged that his symptoms were 9/10 on the pain scale, that he could not stand up straight and could not sit at his desk, and that he had to stop playing football and attending the gym for a period of 6 months. Notwithstanding this, the Claimant failed to attend his general practitioner when he had attended on other occasions for minor matters such as a sore throat.
The trial judge dismissed the claim. On the basis of the areas of concern set out above, the trial judge found that the Claimant was not injured and that the claim was opportunistic and fundamentally dishonest. The Claimant was ordered to pay the Defendant costs of £6,500 on an enforceable basis.
William Hamilton was instructed by Sean McConville of Horwich Farrelly Solicitors.