Insurers fail to prove accident fraud

Posted: 21st August 2014

TripA businessman who was accused of lying about the circumstances of a slipping accident in an attempt to win £750,000 in compensation has defeated an insurance company’s bid to prove him a fraudster and to have him jailed for contempt of court.

The man claimed that he had slipped on a wet patch on a flight of stairs whilst on his way to buy some trainers at a shopping centre. He sued a cleaning firm, alleging that the accident had wrecked his career as a contracts manager.

But Zurich Insurance plc was suspicious and insisted that he had in fact fallen over whilst on his summer holidays abroad. The company pointed to evidence from his former work colleagues – including one who said that he had fallen down some wet steps whilst wearing flip-flops in Portugal.

The Court found that the man had 'little or no compunction about telling peripheral lies to serve his ends'. In the witness box, he had shown himself 'only too willing to introduce casual embellishments' in trying to strengthen his case. However, the Court was not prepared to find to the criminal standard of proof that he had lied about how, and where, the accident happened.

The man had pointed to inconsistencies in the evidence of his ex-workmates. He also said that his relations with his former employers had soured when he took the company to an employment tribunal after he was made redundant.

He had eventually discontinued his damages claim on legal advice but the Court found it ‘plausible’ that he had done so for purely economic reasons.