Social media posts revealed active runner and cyclist was still participating in sporting events despite £60k personal injury claim
Bristol County Court has found a personal injury claimant to be fundamentally dishonest, after an investigation by specialist law firm BLM revealed that the claimant completed a 20-mile bike ride on the day of his medical examination regarding a £60,000 personal injury claim.
Claimant Andy Airey was the non-fault party in a road traffic accident back in 2015, when he was hit by a QBE-insured driver when cycling to work.
Off the back of this incident, Airey sought to claim £60,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA), medical treatment and handicap on the open labour market.
Despite QBE’s insured already confessing to liability, the global insurer, however, questioned the causation of Airey’s stated injuries, appointing BLM’s fraud intelligence team to investigate further.
BLM turned to social media, such as Facebook and fitness tracking platform Strava, finding that Airey’s online activity vastly contradicted his personal injury claim statements.
For example, social media posts showed that Airey completed a 10-mile run four weeks before his medical examination, took on a 100km-bike ride two weeks prior to the examination, finished a 20-mile bike ride the day of his medical appointment and did a 102-mile bike ride seven weeks after he saw an independent GP.
Alongside these instances, BLM found numerous posts relating to running, cycling and triathlons.
In light of these findings, BLM requested that Airey be found fundamentally dishonest for misleading the medical expert that had supported his claim.
On seeing the social media posts, the medical examiner concurred that that claimant could not have sustained his injuries as a result of the road traffic collision and that the more likely explanation was the onset of a degenerative issue.
Airey discontinued his personal injury claim.
The case was heard at Bristol County Court on 21 August 2019, where the judge believed that Airey’s motivation throughout his claim was to link a knee problem with the collision.
Charged with being fundamentally dishonest, Airey was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs, estimated to be around £40,000.
QBE is predicted to have saved around £145,000 in damages and legal costs.
Edward Smethurst, associate at BLM, said: “This is another lesson to fraudulent injury claimants and practitioners alike as to the importance of a claimant’s social media presence. Although fault for the traffic collision was not contested, claiming an impaired ability to run or cycle whilst posting significant evident to the contrary online will come back to bite you.”
Jon Radford, claims manager, special investigation unit at QBE, added: “Gross exaggeration of genuine injuries is just one of the many types of fraud that is prevalent in the insurance industry.
“We are pleased with the fundamental dishonesty outcome of this case and hope it serves as a clear deterrent. Fraud remains a serious issue, but by working to prevent these types of cases, we can help keep our customers safe from similar behaviour.”
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