Insurance lawyers at national law firm Bond Dickinson LLP have won a landmark case for bus company Go North East against a fraudulent personal injury claim.
The case was heard at Gateshead County Court where a Judge ruled that not only should a fraudulent personal injury claim be struck out, but that the solicitors acting for the claimants should pay all of the defendant bus company’s costs. This is an unprecedented move from the Court, highlighting the growing issues with personal injury solicitors.
The case came about following an incident on Tyneside where a Go North East bus scraped the side of a car while driving at five mph. The car driver (H) and the passenger (KB), who was a child, did not complain of any injuries at the time. The damage to the car was paid for promptly by Go North East.
About 18 months later, a claim for injuries was made against Go North East by both H and KB. Although H told his insurers seven days after the accident that no one was injured, a personal injury solicitors firm in Macclesfield actively encouraged them to make a claim, suggesting that there would be financial reward. H and the child’s mother produced medical evidence from an expert suggesting that they were injured, even though medical records suggested they were not.
The Court ruled that: the case should be thrown out on the basis that it had no prospect of success; the child’s mother had misled the medical expert; there was serious misconduct by both the mother and solicitors and the solicitors should be ordered to pay Go North East’s costs. The Judge described the solicitors’ failings as “serious and persistent”.
Paul Hughes, Legal Director at Bond Dickinson LLP, said: “This case shows that courts can and will take a tough line on shoddy and unscrupulous personal injury solicitors. It is vital that organisations stand up to bogus claims and that individuals who may have been involved in accidents are not misled by solicitors suggesting financial reward. This case should be a warning to personal injury solicitors and individuals that fraudulent cases will be thrown out of court and that false claimants can successfully be pursued for the defendant’s costs”.
Go North East’s managing director, Kevin Carr said: “We are pleased that the Judge recognised the fundamentally fraudulent nature of this claim against us for alleged personal injuries. At the root of the problem of the so-called claims culture in this country appears to be unscrupulous claims management and law firms that encourage members of the public to bring false claims to court purely in the pursuit of financial gain. We take a firm stance against any companies or individuals who attempt to obtain money from our company by deception. There are no winners when it comes to dishonest compensation claims – ultimately we all pay for these through subsequent rises in transport fares, or in the case of private motorists, the cost of insurance”.
Bond Dickinson has one of the leading insurance teams in the UK, regularly advising on a diverse range of issues from professional risks claims to casualty work; reinsurance to corporate and regulatory insurance; financial lines; property risk; cyber risk and a broad range of commercial services.
The team was led by Paul Hughes, Legal Director in the firm’s casualty risks team.