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Judge Cracks Down on Bogus Whiplash Claims

Published: 26 March 2014, in categories: Personal Injury Updates | Legal Updates | News and Updates

In a telling reminder that the courts are on the alert to detect bogus whiplash claims, two immigration officers who saw a 'trivial' road shunt as an opportunity to seek substantial damages have been condemned as liars by a High Court judge.

When a work car in which the women were rear seat passengers had a 'little bump' with a bollard, a colleague heard one of them say, "My neck, my neck, I can make a compensation claim.” Mr Justice Mostyn pulled no punches as he blasted the women for their dishonest attempt to obtain thousands of pounds from the Home Office.

In dismissing their claims, he said, "It is proper that I should record that I do not accept the evidence of either of them, which I find to be inaccurate, evasive, partial and advanced for an improper pecuniary motive. This is yet a further example of the national phenomenon of false whiplash claims being made and it is in an attempt to stem the tide that I do not shrink from making firm adverse findings against them."

The judge noted that there was no visible damage to the car and that neither woman had reported any injury at the time or asked for any time off work due to the accident. Both of them had, however, visited their GPs some days after the collision, complaining of neck and back pain.

Their claims were backed up by expert medical evidence which described the impact as 'considerable'. In identical terms, medical reports said both had suffered 'nervous shock and psychological trauma' and that each had endured 'recurrent obtrusive memories of the accident and obsessional thoughts as to how she might have been seriously injured’.

Each of the reports, prepared by a consultant physician, stated that the women had described their physical symptoms as 'severe and constant', having taken months to clear up. However, the judge observed, "Obviously it is, in terms of probability, almost inconceivable that each of these women would have suffered physically or mentally in precisely the same way. I have to say that the identical replication of language in each report casts considerable doubt on the professional objectivity of (the expert), but I am not here to determine that."

The ‘completely honest’ driver of the car had described the accident as 'extremely minor'. Her account was supported by the front seat passenger and the judge noted that the case turned on a ‘stark issue of credibility’ on which there could be ‘no middle ground, no shades of grey’.

He concluded, "The contemporaneous material clearly shows that the impact was trivial; that no damage was caused to the vehicle; no hurt was suffered by the front passengers and that any hurt suffered by the rear passengers was trivial, of short duration and therefore non-compensable."

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