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Why we always advise clients not to exaggerate

There has been a recent story in the news both locally and nationally about a builder from Thornaby, Christopher Clinton, who was involved in a road traffic accident in 2016.

Mr Clinton claimed to have sustained injuries to his back, hips and right shoulder, which he said prevented him from doing his work as a builder because it was a very manual job involving lifting, climbing and crouching.

It would appear that the third party motor insurers, AXA, were suspicious of Mr Clinton’s claims and carried out some investigations.  In an alarming lack of insight, Mr Clinton’s social media posts showed him to be a very physically active individual and he had posted photographs and videos showing him swimming, rock climbing, skiing and ‘stair-surfing’ – sliding down the stairs on a board.  It is evident that he would not have been able to do such things if he was injured to the extent that he had claimed.

When confronted with the evidence against him, Mr Clinton discontinued his claim.  However, the solicitors instructed by the insurance company applied to the Court for a finding of fundamental dishonesty pursuant to section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.  Where such a finding is made against a Claimant, they can be ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs.  In Mr Clinton’s case he was found to have been fundamentally dishonest and has been ordered to pay £5000 in costs.   The effect of him exaggerating his injuries is therefore that he is now faced with a large bill whereas had he told the truth he would have been entitled to receive a compensation payment.

It is also open to a Defendant to seek committal proceedings after a finding of fundamental dishonesty, and Mr Clinton is perhaps fortunate that he is not currently imprisoned for his conduct. 

Even if a claim is largely legitimate and is backed by evidence, an exaggeration of any part of it could lead to a finding of fundamental dishonesty which would result in the entire claim being dismissed and the Claimant being ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs.  There is unfortunately no such reciprocal penalty for dishonest Defendants, and it is therefore imperative that Claimants are able to properly present and back up their claim with evidence.

Cases as blatant as that of Mr Clinton are of course rare.  However, because a finding of fundamental dishonesty is in effect a windfall for Defendants, they are very keen to exploit any inconsistencies in a Claimant’s evidence and seek such a finding, or to use the threat of it as a bargaining tool to have Claimants accept lower offers than they otherwise would.  This is why here at TBI we always advise clients throughout to ensure that they are able to fully support their claims with evidence and to ensure that they are able to present a consistent picture.

If you have a legitimate claim for personal injuries, we would advise you to pursue it with our expert assistance.  We can ensure that your claim is properly presented with appropriate evidence to minimise the risk of any arguments against you by the Defendant or its insurers.  Contact our expert team at 0333 323 2711