Law courts offer no place to hide for dishonest injury compensation claimants
A recent Portsmouth County Court ruling decided a compensation claim, which resulted from a low-speed car accident, was fundamentally dishonest – and the claimants are now likely to be ordered to pay the defendants’ legal costs. On appeal it was argued that in their defence the defendants should have clearly stated they intended to allege fundamental dishonesty but the appeal court disagreed.
Our courts will never protect someone who has been found to be dishonest, although English written law does not define fundamental dishonesty. Case law, however, does provide some assistance in this area. Dishonesty is deemed to be fundamental if it pervades an entire claim or a substantial part of a claim so, in personal injury cases, significant exaggeration or misrepresentation of the extent of ongoing medical symptoms can constitute fundamental dishonesty.
While an honest claimant has nothing to fear, it is important to consider all statements carefully – as a claimant, whatever you say will be closely scrutinised so it is essential to be clear, precise and accurate. For example, do not say you cannot perform a particular action if what you really mean is that you avoid doing it because it makes your symptoms worse: if subsequently you are seen doing it, you are less likely to appear dishonest. Be open and honest about everything and do not worry about how this will affect your claim – an experienced personal injury lawyer will build your case around the true facts.
Throughout much of the current debate concerning personal injury claims there seems to be a feeling that everyone involved is tarnished by those who are dishonest, and this focus is drawing attention away from the large number of genuine claims being pursued by honest claimants. Bona fide accident victims should remember that our legal system looks after honest injured parties and ensures the existence of sufficient insurance monies to fund the reasonable lifetime needs of true victims. In my experience as a personal injury solicitor, most of the time our system works well to protect genuine injured parties who, in turn, should not feel obliged to exaggerate their injuries in a bid falsely to claim compensation.
If you need legal advice after an accident that was not your fault or would like to know more about how George Ide’s personal injury team could help you or a loved one, call our Chichester office on 01243 786668 or email us in confidence at email@example.com.
Claire Watson. Partner and Head of personal injury.
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