The vast majority of personal injury claims are entirely genuine. However, as a High Court ruling showed, there are very sadly a dishonest few who, in pursuit of large sums in compensation, present exaggerated or fabricated cases.
The case concerned an ex-soldier who was medically discharged from the Army after sustaining a non-freezing cold injury whilst serving overseas. He asserted, amongst other things, that the injury seriously restricted his mobility. He lodged a personal injury claim against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that he initially valued at in excess of £1.6 million, not including damages for loss of earning capacity.
He discontinued his claim after the MoD disclosed covertly shot surveillance footage of him walking home after delivering his daughter to school. That, however, was not the end of the matter, and the MoD sought a ruling that he was guilty of deliberate malingering and that his pursuit of the claim was fundamentally dishonest.
Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that he had – on the same day that the footage was taken – told an orthopaedic expert who examined him in connection with the case that he always used a crutch when walking outdoors and that he could not walk more than 50 yards without stopping to recover.
The Court observed that there was no medical explanation for the marked and complete contrast between that account and his appearance in the footage, which showed him walking, albeit slowly, with a normal gait, without limping and without using either a stick or a crutch.
The Court found, on the balance of probabilities, that he had suffered a minor injury from which he had fully recovered at some point prior to his consultation with the expert. With a view to financial gain, he had dishonestly portrayed himself as having suffered a more serious injury that had a continuing and disabling effect. The Court concluded that the whole of his claim was tainted by fundamental dishonesty.