Court success over fraudulent £100k arm injury claim

  • North East Lincolnshire Council faced a £100,000 personal injury claim from a woman who alleged she suffered a permanent arm injury after a highways accident
  • The 50-year-old claimed her injury was so severe she was struggling to live a normal life, but investigations by the authority proved she could move her supposedly injured arm without apparent difficulty
  • The judge made a finding of fundamental dishonesty, and ordered her to pay the authority’s legal costs

North East Lincolnshire Council has secured a finding of fundamental dishonesty against a woman who attempted to claim more than £100,000 by exaggerating her injuries.

Background

The 50-year-old claimed she had suffered permanently reduced function in her right arm following an alleged accident on a highway.

She said she was left needing help from family members with shopping, gardening and basic household tasks, and was unable to lift her grandchildren or lead a normal, active life.

However, inconsistencies emerged and intelligence enquiries showed her participating in an ice bucket challenge without any apparent difficulty.

A period of surveillance followed, which included gathering footage of the claimant travelling to and from an appointment with her own medical expert.

On the same day she informed the orthopaedic expert that she was unable to move her right shoulder or elbow, footage showed her with full use of her right arm, including lifting a pushchair onto a train and carrying her grandchild.

Following an application by the council to amend its defence to plead fundamental dishonesty, the claimant immediately discontinued her claim.

Decision

The council pursued the case and District Judge Thomson made a finding of fundamental dishonesty at Hull County Court on 29 November.

The claimant was ordered to pay the council’s legal costs, which will be assessed at a later date.

Commentary

Scott Clayton, Head of Claims Fraud at Zurich, said: “This was a straightforward attempt of extortion of public money. The claimant did suffer some injuries as a result of the accident but the extent of exaggeration of the damage was such that our customer, the council, had to pursue the fundamental dishonesty charge to demonstrate a zero tolerance approach to fraud.

“Councils are really struggling to deliver vital services to their communities due to ever-decreasing public sector funding so anyone trying to defraud them should be brought to justice.”

North East Lincolnshire Council was represented by Weightmans LLP in conjunction with Zurich Municipal.