We have been acting for a delightful client (now aged 53) in connection with a personal injury claim arising from a road traffic accident in January 2018.
Our client was struck from behind whilst in her vehicle awaiting completion of a right turn.
Liability for the accident was admitted by the Defendant’s insurers subject to proof of injury and loss.
She developed significant symptoms in her left shoulder and underwent various investigations including ultrasound and cortisone injections and shoulder impingement was confirmed.
The client had physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment but as improvement was not achieved, she eventually underwent subacromial decompression and excision of the distal clavicle. Unfortunately, the client continued to suffer considerably with pain in her shoulder and arm and into her wrist and hand.
She underwent nerve conduction studies before eventually receiving a diagnosis of chronic pain syndrome. Chronic pain is a condition which develops following trauma and leads to severe, debilitating, persistent pain. This resulted in increased levels of anxiety and depression and the client was unable to continue working both as an Administrator in a local Driving Test Centre and as a Bookkeeper for her husband.
Although, at face value, this was not a significantly difficult claim it became so for two reasons:-
- The client had a pre-existing heart condition which impacted on her general day to day life and in particular, her ability to maintain employment; and more so because
- the Defendant alleged the client was being fundamentally dishonest (FD) in the presentation of her case (this allegation based on surveillance footage taken of the client walking her dog over a period of almost one year) and that consequently even though liability for the accident had been admitted, the client’s claim should be dismissed in its entirety with no compensation awarded and with the Defendant entitled to a full award of costs.
Expert evidence was obtained in connection with the shoulder injury, her chronic pain and the additional psychological impact on her by reason of the allegation of FD.
The allegation of FD was of serious concern for both the client and S J Edney since a finding at Trial of FD would result in the claim being dismissed with no award of costs and with a further order that the client personally pays the Defendant’s costs from her own resources.
The client maintained her claim and indicated she was prepared to pursue her claim to Trial supported by her various medical experts. She is a very honest woman and justifiably felt her integrity had been called into question by this unfounded allegation.
Eventually after protracted litigation, the claim was settled with an award being obtained for our client
S J Edney obtained damages for our client of £75,000.00 in 2022
This should have been a straightforward personal injury case but became unnecessarily complicated and more costly primarily due to the actions of the Defendant. An allegation of FD against a Claimant is very serious.
In our view, there was absolutely no basis for this allegation. The surveillance evidence was not harmful to our client’s case and was entirely consistent with her instructions and our medical evidence.
What we are finding now is a Defendant is making an allegation of FD more frequently due to the adverse costs consequences to a Claimant if they were to succeed with this allegation at Trial. In those circumstances, a Claimant becomes personally liable for the Defendant’s costs of the action which can be considerable.
We believe Defendants hope that by making this allegation, even where it is unfounded, it will put pressure on a Claimant to under settle their claim as they do not want to run this risk at Trial.
Fortunately, our client was a very robust individual and did not bow to this pressure and was happy for this matter to proceed to Trial. She was confident she would defeat any suggestion she had behaved improperly.
We are pleased her claim was settled for an amount which clearly showed the Defendant was not serious in running this allegation to Trial.
If anyone suffers an injury at work which evolves into chronic pain, they should contact us for advice on whether they have a claim.