FRAUDULENT CLAIMANTS BEWARE
Earlier this year the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of Zurich -v- Hayward. This is an important decision of principle for personal injury cases in which fraud has been alleged.
In June 1998 Mr Hayward, who was then 35, had an accident at work. He was employed as a machine technician and he injured his back. In May 2001 he issued Court proceedings against his employers. He claimed that his injury was continuing to cause him significant back pain and this restricted his mobility. His back pain had also led to a depressing illness. He alleged that he was only capable of light work and claimed losses of over £420,000 with a claim for pain and suffering.
Just before trial Mr Hayward reached an agreement with his employers and their Insurance Company who agreed to pay him nearly £135,000 in full and final settlement of his claim.
Normally the matter would rest there and Mr Hayward would be free to spend his compensation. Unfortunately for Mr Hayward, in 2005 a neighbour approached his former employers and has suggested that Mr Hayward had been had been dishonest. As far as they were concerned Mr Hayward had recovered from his injuries at least a year before the settlement had occurred, despite Mr Hayward’s protestations to the contrary.
Zurich investigated the matter and responded swiftly. In February 2009 Zurich commenced proceedings against Mr Hayward claiming damages for deceit. The case went through the Court of Appeal and eventually to the Supreme Court. The Court decided that Mr Hayward had indeed deliberately and dishonestly exaggerated the effects of his injury throughout his claim. Lord Toulson noted that “Mr Hayward’s deceitful conduct had caused Zurich to pay almost ten times more than they should have paid but for his dishonesty.
This case shows that an insurer, who has done all that it reasonably can to investigate and settle a case can re-open for settlement if fraud can be proved.
This should act as a warning for all fraudulent claimants.
At Davis Blank Furniss we pride ourselves on representing genuine claimants. We also uphold any proposals by insurers and the Government to impose sanctions against fraudulent claimants.
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