Mr Thomas Judge v Haven Insurance Company Ltd
Claimant found fundamentally dishonest after pretending to be a passenger in vehicle, as he could not get the accident circumstances or location correct.Read more
Following a road traffic accident, the Claimant, Mr Bruce, brought a claim for damages including personal injuries, vehicle losses and hire totalling in excess of £6k. After investigations by Flint Bishop and our insurer client, the claim was defended to trial. The full claim was dismissed, and Mr Bruce was ordered to pay our insurer client’s legal costs of £5,503.60.
Mr Bruce alleged that on 18 November 2019 Mr Karwan collided with the rear of his vehicle causing him personal injury and other losses. However, Mr Karwan advised his insurer that Mr Bruce braked for no apparent reason causing the collision. Consequently, this claim was investigated, and a number of inconsistencies were drawn out. In addition, lines of enquiry were made with independent witnesses who supported the Defendant’s position.
The trial proceeded out of the Central London Royal Courts of Justice on 24 August 2021 before District Judge Althaus and heard via Teams. In fact, the Defendant, Mr Karwan, gave his evidence remotely from Iraq!
Mr Bruce gave evidence to the effect that his car mat had come unstuck giving rise to his braking yet Mr Bruce was silent as to the circumstances in his Particulars of Claim and his first Claims Notification Form (CNF) stated he was correctly proceeding and his second CNF refers to Mr Karwan failing to stop and colliding with Mr Bruce’s stationary vehicle. In addition, Mr Bruce stated in his witness evidence that his car mat was tangled in his pedals (plural) yet in oral evidence stated he braked with his foot pedal but his case summary stated he braked via his handbrake.
As for the vehicle damage claim the judge agreed with the Defence and concluded that there was only the slightest of impact. Mr Bruce alleged there was a dent and crack to the rear of his car bumper yet when shown photographs of Mr Bruce’s vehicle post-accident it was not possible to detect either. The Judge remarked he did see a scrape or scuff but all very minor.
In addition, there were inconsistencies in Mr Bruce’s evidence as to his injury sites. Mr Bruce claimed for injuries to his neck and upper back, yet he attended on his GP 4 days post-accident and reported injuries to his neck and lower back which he was examined for. Mr Bruce also confirmed in cross-examination that he had decades of back pain and 10 years of neck pain which he failed to report to his medical expert. Mr Bruce told his medical expert that he had been placed on lighter duties for 6 days but under cross examination said it had been 3 – 4 months.
After extensive and rigorous cross-examination Mr Bruce stated in oral evidence that he gave his gym membership up because it was unaffordable. But in his GP records it was found that he had obtained a letter from his GP to cancel his gym membership based on alleged symptoms of light headedness (not therefore on grounds of unaffordability as stated by Mr Bruce). As such it was contended that Mr Bruce was prepared to tell his GP something that is not true to gain a financial advantage in cancelling a gym membership contract that he would have otherwise been financially committed to.
The Judge summed up as follows:
“On the balance of probabilities, the brake lights did not come on until the last moment. The Claimant did apply his handbrake and there was not a problem with his mat. The Claimant decided to deliberately bring his vehicle to a sudden stop to induce a collision. The Defendant was clearly following the Claimant closely. In circumstances where the Claimant had to make an emergency stop for a good reason, the accident would be the fault of the Defendant. But, in my view, the Defendant had been lulled into the collision by the application by the Claimant of his handbrake. It would be wrong to find the Defendant at any fault. I am not satisfied the Claimant has discharged the burden of proof. I find there was probably some very slight damage to the Claimant’s vehicle but am unable to find any more extensive damage than that. Also, I cannot conclude the Claimant was injured at all. Applying the appropriate test with regards to fundamental dishonesty, I find that this is a fundamentally dishonest claim.”
Paul’s comments on the case:
The inconsistencies drawn out in this case meant it was ideal for trial and for our Counsel to robustly cross examine Mr Bruce. The fact that the trial proceeded remotely by way of Teams suited Mr Karwan’s circumstance as he was overseas. This was another great result with an enforceable costs order against Mr Bruce and a further finding of fundamental dishonesty for our insurer client and follows on from a series of other successfully defended cases recently discontinued with significant indemnity savings.
For more information about this case or how our Insurance Litigation team defends insurers and self-insured organisations, please contact us on 01332 226 109 or complete the form below.
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