Fraud in Personal Injury Claims

March 4, 2016

The general crackdown on fraud is striking every aspect of business and this includes “cash for cash” and all other forms of fraudulent personal injury claims.  Insurers and Plaintiff practitioners has to take more care to ensure claims are not dishonest bearing in mind the consequences in respect of damages and costs.  The pre action protocol creates a disincentive for would-be claimants who seek to bring a dishonest claim.  The pre action protocols places an emphasis on following the correct procedure and defendants are obliged to provide early discovery which enables claimants solicitors to decide if they have a reasonable case or if there are potential issues, difficulties or suspicions and this should be explored prior to issuing proceedings.  I find claimant’s solicitors are pressing for pre action discovery so that they have a clearer picture on whether liability can be established.  I set out below some of the types of fraudulent claims, the signs to look out for and some of the ways Insurers and Defendants can handle any suspicions.

The types of fraudulent claim:

  1. The accident did not happen or was staged;
  2. The defendant is usually an innocent party;
  3. Phantom passengers;
  4. Low impact accidents;
  5. Exaggerated claims.

The signs of a fraudulent claim:

  1. Repetitive claimant;
  2. Excessive claim for car hire;
  3. Was the claimants vehicle recently purchased
  4. Was the vehicle prematurely disposed off prior to inspection;
  5. Did the accident happen at night
  6. No police attendance
  7. No witnesses.

Tips:

  1. Check if the police attended and is there a police report;
  2. Are the parties related;
  3. Are the witness accounts consistent;
  4. Are there any discrepancies in details relating to the accident such as accident locus, dates and times;
  5. Are there discrepancies in details given to medical expert or past history not disclosed, obtain GP and hospital records;
  6. If a claim is suspicious check the details of the claimant including electoral roll and any social network links;
  7. Carry out vehicle checks if the claim relates to a road traffic accident;
  8. Carry out surveillance if suspicions regarding inability to work
  9. Check databases
  10. Check for CCTV, photographs or dash cameras.

This article was written by Mairead O’Boyle, Solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team who specialises in personal injury. This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Dispute Resolution team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.