This recent successful fraud trial win, demonstrates that nothing is certain with regards to suspected fraud cases and that the unexpected can always happen.
The Insured, a car rental firm, hired a Vauxhall Corsa, to the defendant's girlfriend in February 2013. It is alleged that the First Defendant, stole the vehicle and was involved in an accident whilst driving the stolen vehicle. The defendant reported the theft to the police and it appears that the vehicle was returned to his girlfriend the following day.
The Claimant alleged that he was approached by the defendant outside a shop on Dunstable Road, Luton to ask for directions. The Claimant volunteered to lead the defendant to the location (a 2 mile journey taking approximately 10 minutes) and they drove away from the location in convoy.
When they reached a junction, the defendant failed to stop and collided with the rear of the Claimant's vehicle.
The matter was referred to Clyde & Co's fraud team on the basis that it was a suspected staged/contrived accident. However there were a number of activities with this case, which were unusual for a staged/contrived accident, such as:
- The defendant wrote to the Claimant's solicitors enclosing a complete signed and dated admission form N9C, admitting liability for the index accident.Within the admission he also makes an offer to pay £100.00 per month to settle the Claimant's claim. This is unusual in a staged/contrived accident.
- The Claimant was not making a claim for hire and storage
- There were no passenger claims from the Claimant's vehicle or the insured vehicle
- The Claimant was not linked to the Insured or the driver.
- There was no evidence to say that the vehicles were not in a collision. The engineer report did not say that the vehicles did not make contact.
- The Claimant acknowledged that the impact was at a low speed. (The prognosis is 4 – 6 months from the date of the accident for whiplash type injuries.) This is unusual in a staged/contrived accident, especially where there is only a claim for vehicle damage and injury.
- It is unusual is a staged/contrived accident for the insured to say the vehicle was stolen and an uninsured driver had the accident. Usually they make it less complicated so there is more likelihood of being paid out.
Based upon the above evidence we calculated the prospects of success at around 40%.
Surprisingly, the first defendant turned up at the trial and came into court half way through the morning. He told the Judge that the accident occurred and he admitted liability. This could have had a negative impact on the case given that he was casting doubt on our suspicions that the accident was not genuine. However, the Judge dismissed the claim in its entirety. She found that although the accident may have occurred as alleged the claimant had failed to prove his case in terms of the injuries he claimed due to the inconsistencies in his evidence given, his failure to disclose previous and subsequent accidents to the expert. His claim for vehicle damage was dismissed due to the engineering evidence.
One lesson to be learned from here is that although we are cautious with our evaluation of fraudulent claims, it does not pay to be overly cautious. The unexpected can always happen but that will not necessarily affect the prospects negatively. Going with your instinct is equally important.