A retired scrap metal dealer has had his £1.1m claim dismissed in full after an investigation carried out by Admiral Insurance and Horwich Farrelly found the claimant to be a liar who fabricated evidence to fraudulently inflate the value of his claim of loss of earnings. The Judge’s assessment of damages is the highest known assessment in a claim where a claimant has been found to be dishonest.
The case concerned Anthony Hawkins, a retired scrap metal dealer who suffered multiple and serious injuries in a road traffic accident on 23 August 2014. As a result of his injuries the claimant spent 26 days as an inpatient. The claimant went on to suffer recurrent infections around the metalwork in the injured right forearm.
Central to his claim for lost earnings was a handwritten, undated letter that alleged to offer the claimant employment at the same scrap yard he had previously sold for a salary plus weekly bonuses. The letter was later exhibited to the claimant’s witness statement to support his claim for past and future lost earnings totalling £1.1m.
THE OLD WALKING STICK SWITCHEROO
Concerns were raised by Admiral Insurance and Horwich Farrelly in relation to both the letter and the authenticity of the claimant’s self-reporting at several medicolegal assessments and several periods of surveillance were commissioned between 2016 and 2020. Despite telling medical and care experts that he would only drive in emergencies and could only sit for 10 minutes due to back pain; surveillance captured the claimant driving on several and consecutive days, running errands and undertaking journeys far in excess of 10 minutes.
He was also seen walking without any walking aid and switching the walking stick between his left and right hands, despite telling the defendant’s care expert he could not grip or hold anything in his right hand.
Following a seven day trial the Judge found the claimant had lied about how and when the letter offering employment came into being and referenced the numerous inconsistencies in the claimant’s written and oral evidence when delivering his judgment, specifically his exaggeration of symptoms and the creation of evidence to inflate the value of the claim. The defendant’s expert medical evidence was preferred across the board and the claim was dismissed in full with an order to pay the defendant’s costs on an indemnity basis and for repayment of an interim payment. The Judge’s assessment of damages exceeded £120,000, understood to be the highest assessment of damages to date in a claim involving serious injuries where fundamental dishonesty arguments were successful.
DOUBLE CHECK DOCUMENTS
Aled Morris, Senior Associate at Horwich Farrelly said: “Despite the significant and serious injuries sustained by the claimant this judgment will serve as an example and a timely reminder of the law surrounding fundamental dishonesty, specifically the exaggeration of symptoms and the fraudulent creation of documents to inflate the value of a claim. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and those who fall foul of the law will be held accountable”.
Alex Wilkinson, Partner at Horwich Farrelly said: “For the last four years Horwich Farrelly has provided a tailored solution for insurers investigating dishonesty in high value claims. Our Large Loss and Fraud teams work in collaboration to identify and challenge dishonest exaggeration. This result demonstrates the savings insurers can achieve by applying fraud investigation techniques to large loss claims.”
Daniel Griffiths, Technical Claims Manager at Admiral Insurance said:
“Our investigation proved Mr Hawkins was fundamentally dishonest; he exaggerated the severity of his symptoms and submitted false documents for his losses. Insurance fraud is insidious and affects all motorists through higher premiums. We’re very pleased with this judgment and the message it sends to anyone considering making a fraudulent claim. We’re fully committed to paying out on genuine injury claims quickly and fairly. However, together with our legal teams, we will exercise the law to its full extent to help us defend these claims and discourage fraudulent and dishonest claimants.”