There has been plenty of publicity in the press about personal injury fraud, which has become very prevalent and expensive in the last decade. As with any crime, this is not victimless since the net result is that insurance costs are rising sharply. What annoys many is that neither insurers or the criminal justice system are perceived as doing anything like enough to deal with the problem and create a significant enough deterrent to make fraudsters think twice.
There are many types of personal injury fraud but perhaps the 2 most common forms have been :-
1. multiple whiplash claims made as a result of repeated claims from manufactured Road Traffic accidents – in relation to this in some postcodes the number of personal injury claims are way above the national average, leading to this type of fraud being known as “postcode fraud”
2. Exaggeration of personal injury claims – general damages for pain and suffering under English law are actually fairly modest. What makes claims of bigger value is ongoing claims for inability to work over an extended period. These are known as special damages for loss of earnings.
Applying all of the above, a recent case shows just how big claims can be and that there is perhaps, finally, a trend to take action against fraudsters which may help to reduce the extent of the problem.
In this case, a car crash victim claimed he had been left “mute and incoherent” and sought to claim millions of pounds from the Motor Insurers Bureau which compensates when an injury is caused by an unlawfully uninsured driver. the individual lied about the extent of his injuries claiming he had suffered a severe brain injury.
With big claims such as this it is not unusual for covert surveillance to be used to check the truth of the claims and the claimant’s activities.This revealed that he :-
- regularly worked out in the gym with weights
- socialised with friends
- drove a car
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this case is that the individual has been jailed for 4 months for contempt of court and several family members have also received criminal sentences as a result of the attempted fraud. This puts a marker down that this sort of behaviour will be perhaps less tolerated going forward which can only be a good thing, particularly since insurance fraud costs an estimated £2 billion annually which equates to an additional £50.00 cost for insurance on each honest policyholder. In additions, uninsured and untraced drivers cost another £30.00 in annual premium.