In a telling sign of the insurance industry’s toughening stance on ubiquitous ‘cash-for-crash’ frauds, a taxi driver who alleged that he had been badly injured in a road accident will go without a penny in compensation after a judge found that he was implicated in a dishonest conspiracy.
The cabbie insisted that he had three passengers in his vehicle when a plump, goatee-bearded, driver ploughed into his car. Claiming that the driver had given his name as 'Richard Jones' and a home address, he sought £15,000 in damages from motor insurers in respect of his alleged injuries.
However, the insurance company - with whom a 'Mr R. Jones' had taken out a policy on the very day of the alleged accident - fought the case and the cabbie’s claim failed when a county court judge found that the mysterious Mr Jones, who could not be traced, did not exist and that the accident had probably never happened.
On appeal, the cabbie attacked the judge's conclusions as 'perverse' and protested his innocence. Even if there had been some fraud afoot, he claimed to be a mere 'patsy' who had paid a heavy price for the deceit of others. He had given a detailed description of the driver and, if necessary, his lawyers should have been given the opportunity to knock on the doors of every 'Mr R. Jones' who was listed in the area in order to prove that the bearded motorist existed, it was argued.
However, the Court of Appeal was unconvinced and refused the cabbie permission to appeal. The Court noted that, in describing the alleged accident, he had said that he was carrying his passengers home after a game of football - although it was a winter evening and well after dark by the time of the purported collision.
None of the passengers - all of whom were known to the cabbie - had come forward to support his account of the accident in court and there was expert engineering evidence that the damage to his car was inconsistent with the collision he had described. The Court ruled that the cabbie faced 'insuperable difficulties' in pursuing an appeal which stood no reasonable prospect of success.