The vast majority of personal injury claims are entirely genuine, but there are sadly a few dishonest people who exaggerate their symptoms with a view to boosting the amount of their compensation. That was certainly so in the case of a man who claimed seven-figure damages after being injured at an amusement park.
The man and his family were on board a cable car which rocked and swung violently after being dispatched too fast. Standing in an awkward position, he suffered a lower back injury whilst trying to protect his wife and son. He launched proceedings against the company that ran the amusement park, claiming over £1.5 million in damages. The company admitted liability in full for the accident, which it accepted was caused by operator error, but hotly disputed the value of his claim.
Following a hearing, a judge found that the man had exaggerated his physical and psychiatric injuries. He took into account, amongst other things, covertly shot DVD footage of the man going about his daily life and evidence that he had taken a full part in a white water rafting trip. Claims that the accident caused chronic pain syndrome and significant disabilities that rendered him incapable of work were rejected.
Valuing his claim at £17,600, the judge found that he had sustained a lower back injury, resulting in moderate pain for three months and mild pain thereafter. As a result of the frightening accident, he suffered a mixed anxiety and depression disorder of a mild but continuing nature.
His claim was, however, dismissed in its entirety after the judge found that he had pursued his case in a fundamentally dishonest manner. He was ordered to repay £11,000 that he had already received by way of interim damages and to pay the company's six-figure legal costs on the punitive indemnity basis.
Dismissing his appeal against that outcome, the High Court could find no fault in the judge's factual conclusions on the evidence. There was ample evidence that his injuries were not life changing, that the mild pain he continued to suffer did not prevent him from working or enjoying outdoor activities and that he exhibited fundamental dishonesty in relation to the claim.