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
The claimants alleged to have been involved in a road traffic accident on 1 August 2019 on A282, Dartford Crossing. The defendant, a Lithuanian haulage company, denied that the accident occurred based on the account from its driver.
The three claimants pursued claims for personal injury, policy excess and rehabilitation plus legal costs, considered to be worth circa £20,000. Following investigations by Flint Bishop and InterAssista (the UK handling agent for Balcia Insurance SE, insurer of the defendant’s vehicle) the claim was successfully defended with the claim ultimately being discontinued.
Liability for the accident was not admitted, due to the defendant’s driver’s account and several other issues in the case, which prompted the matter to be reviewed by Flint Bishop’s Counter Fraud team.
Cross-border cases are notoriously difficult to defend as the cooperation of the overseas driver is often difficult to secure, particularly their attendance at Trial in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, in this case it was also the position that a witness statement could not be obtained from the driver. Instead, the driver’s evidence was limited to a short, handwritten note in Lithuanian.
Despite the evidential difficulties with the defendant’s driver’s witness evidence, the case proceeded. One key piece of evidence in support of the defence was telematics and mapping evidence from a tracker device fitted to the defendant’s vehicle. The mapping showed that the defendant’s vehicle did not stop anywhere near the alleged accident locus. Coupled with the tracker device information was the fact that there was no damage at all to the defendant’s vehicle.
The claimants’ case faced a number of other difficulties. Firstly, despite alleging an accident with an HGV there was no engineering evidence showing any damage to the Volkswagen Golf in which the claimants were travelling. Secondly, the account of the accident circumstances and alleged (although unevidenced) vehicle damage was inconsistent. The claimants alleged that the defendant’s vehicle had collided with their vehicle from the left; however, the damage that was described to have been sustained to the claimant’s vehicle was said to be to the rear of the right-hand side.
In failing to provide a consistent account of the accident circumstances which would accord with the damage that they say was caused to their vehicle, the claimants had unwittingly undermined their own case. The lack of any physical evidence of damage to either vehicle, such as photographs or engineering evidence, was a significant evidential issue for the claimants to get over.
The claim was listed for Trial on 7 January 2022 in the County Court at Thanet. Flint Bishop, having pleaded the issues with the claimants’ case and presented the evidence and inconsistencies during the disclosure stage, tactically applied pressure in correspondence ahead of exchange of witness statements.
The claimants failed to provide medical records in accordance with a court order successfully obtained by Flint Bishop, relating to alleged attendances at the claimants’ general practitioner which were never substantiated.
Then despite an extension of several weeks and court order delaying the claimants’ witness evidence, the claimants still failed to provide any witness evidence in support of their claims.
Given the multiple breaches of the court’s directions order and the issues in the case, the claimants took the decision to unilaterally discontinue their claims.
Flint Bishop considered the claim for an application to set aside Qualified One-Way Costs based on the evidence. Two of the three claimants were minors at the time of the accident and the third claimant was an unemployed housewife. Flint Bishop undertook intelligence enquiries to assess whether there may be assets, such as a property, to secure payment or pursue other enforcement options such as a charge order. Following those enquiries, it was clear that the adult claimant would not have funds to meet any costs order and InterAssista took the commercial decision not to pursue an application.
Anthony Carrington, Partner and Head of Insurance Litigation at Flint Bishop, has extensive experience in Counter Fraud and commented on the case:
“Obtaining this result for InterAssista and their principal insurer was a testimony to our ability to deploy litigation tactics to secure a great outcome for our client, even though we were faced with the challenges that one often sees in cross-border cases. Our ability to present the tracker and use intelligence to secure the win and provide commercially sensible advice demonstrates the increasing capabilities of the Counter-Fraud team at Flint Bishop.”
Dzidra Noor, Branch Director at InterAssista said:
“We are pleased to have identified this as a case to defend – a decision validated by the outcome. The claimants failed in their claim for compensation and we are delighted to have worked with the insured company to secure vital evidence which helped Flint Bishop to present our concerns and ultimately have the claim discontinue. Protecting the interests of insureds based in Eastern Europe, whose drivers have accidents in the United Kingdom, has a number of challenges. InterAssista’s partnership approach, working with our customer and Flint Bishop, helped secure the right outcome in this case.”
For assistance defending against dishonest insurance claims from all levels of complexity, contact our team on 0121 716 8030 or fill in the form below.
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