Confess And Avoid; Honesty Is The Best Policy
“Confess and avoid”. This is one piece of advice that I received early in my career, and has stood me in good stead.
This is best illustrated by an example. Picture the scene. I am sat in my office (some time ago) with my injured client and her partner. I ask; “What did you do on your holiday to Australia?”. The couple exchange nervous glances and appear hesitant to reply, but then say (quite weakly); “Nothing much”. I say; “The insurance company might have had you followed and videoed on holiday”. After a pause, she answers; “Skydiving, scuba diving and canyon swings”. “Ah” I reply, “How did you manage those things with your injured shoulder?”. “Well”, she says, “I was able to protect my shoulder in all of these activities, by special instruction. It was a tandem skydive, and I was able to hold the injured arm in. I checked out that the canyon swing would not jar the shoulder- it didn’t. I would normally have done 10 dives, but only did 4 shorter ones so as not to strain the shoulder”.
All of the above information was put in witness statements and was sent to all the experts and the defence team. No one batted an eyelid. Everything had been fully explained and was accepted as consistent with a permanent, restrictive injury. If, however, I had not questioned and warned my client, it could have been a disaster. Any sniff of “shiftiness” or someone being “economical with the truth” is likely to be ruthlessly rooted out by an insurance company/defence team.
If my client’s witness statement had denied any significant physical or adventure activity on holiday, she could well have ended up being found by a Judge to have been “fundamentally dishonest”. In that case, she would not have received a penny in compensation, but could have been liable to pay her own legal costs and those of the defendant insurer.
This is, I feel, not just a lesson for personal injury claims, but a lesson for life; hit uncomfortable truths head-on, give honest and open explanations, likely leading to better outcomes than the alternative of “keep schtum”; things have a habit of coming back to bite.General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog