An interesting case summary from DWF Law:
In a case that sends a strong message to claimants, barrister Louis Browne QC from Exchange Chambers, instructed by Sarah Mir and Wendy Behn of DWF Law LLP, and acting on behalf of RSA Insurance Limited, has successfully secured the dismissal of an alleged brain injury claim with a finding of fundamental dishonesty.
Mrs Hall, the claimant, sought damages from the injuries she sustained following a road traffic accident on 28 November 2013. They included a traumatic brain injury with associated balance and fatigue problems, severe migraines, vertigo and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mrs Hall reported a wide-range of limitations, including memory and concentration deficits, which impacted her ability to read, watch TV, drive alone, carry out domestic activities, play tennis and return to work as a teaching assistant.
There was no doubt Mrs Hall was involved in a serious accident, hence RSA’s offer to fund rehabilitation from the outset of the case. However, RSA developed concerns regarding the extent of the claimant’s alleged limitations and their clinical plausibility as reported to her treating physiotherapist and medico-legal orthopaedic expert.
Surveillance and social media analysis was commissioned before and after the Immediate Needs Assessment (INA), and the footage grossly contradicted the claimant’s alleged deficits. The surveillance footage spanned 28 days over a period of three years, whilst the social media bundle totalled nearly 250 pages.
The claimant rejected the RSA’s costs protective offers even after the surveillance and social media evidence had been disclosed. After a failed JSM, the parties proceeded to a 9-day trial.
At trial, Louis Browne QC successfully argued that approximately 69% of the claim was dishonest, such dishonesty was fundamental to the claim, and that pursuant to section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, her claim should be dismissed.
In dismissing the claim, HHJ Walden-Smith ruled that Mrs Hall had deliberately and systematically exaggerated and misrepresented the impact of her accident for material gain.
Sarah Mir, Partner at DWF, commented:
“The judgment of HHJ Walden-Smith should send a strong message to claimants and their instructing solicitors. Insurers, such as RSA, take fundamental dishonesty seriously and are not averse to running cases to trial, referring claimants to the IFED and/or issuing committal proceedings for contempt of court.
“Huge plaudits go to Louis Browne QC who, from the outset of his instruction, has been fastidiously prepared on a very complex and document heavy case. He is a huge believer in collaborative working. During the trial, Louis displayed prodigious advocacy skills.”