The Personal Injury Blog

Fundamental dishonesty and the role of social media

What is Fundamental Dishonesty?

Fundamental Dishonesty occurs when the Claimant (the person bringing the claim for personal injury) is found to have been knowingly and deliberately untruthful about all or part of their claim. This might include lying about the nature and extent of their injuries, their loss of earnings or even about the accident itself.

Most injured claimants are unaware of the possible consequences when Fundamental Dishonesty is alleged against them when they bring a claim for Personal Injury. They should be, as the consequences could be catastrophic for them.

Social Media

Social media is now playing a significant part in catching people out in relation to Fundamental Dishonesty. It is often the case that the defendant’s insurers or Solicitors have their suspicions about a claimant’s injuries and/or recovery progress and therefore they may look at the claimant’s social media accounts to establish the true picture. This is in addition to instructing private detectives to follow a claimant in order to investigate further.

The significance of social media in Fundamental Dishonesty allegations was highlighted in a recent case, heard at Manchester County Court, where a body builder, who claimed an accident had left him scared of heights, was exposed as dishonest when a video emerged of him careering down Europe’s highest waterslide.

Ben Bardsley, 38, of Stockport, made a Personal injury claim after falling into a pond in 2015. He said the accident and the injuries he sustained left him with a fear of heights and unable to lift weights. His case was dismissed as “nonsense” by the Court after footage from Mr Bardsley’s social media accounts was shown of him being propelled 108ft (33m) down the Vertigo slide in Benidorm.

The gym owner had brought a claim against Warrington Koi & Aquatics who were digging a pond in his garden in July 2015. As he inspected the work Mr Bardsley was struck by the bucket of a digger and knocked into the pond. The Court heard evidence that he fell with his arms outstretched causing injuries to his neck and back and he was left unable to lift weights and with a fear of heights.

The insurance company for the pond supplier, Aviva, had been suspicious about Mr Bardsley and his alleged injuries and so had instructed their lawyers to investigate further. The probe uncovered an incriminating array of posts on Mr Bardsley’s social media accounts. Photographs, taken after the accident, showed him lifting heavy weights and a video was posted of Mr Bardsley grinning as he entered a capsule on the Vertigo slide which descends at more than 62mph in just 3 seconds. On other social media posts he can be seen laughing and flexing his muscles in front of a group of children as he leaves the ride.

Dismissing the claim on 23rd January 2020, Recorder Richard Hartley ruled that Mr Bardsley was guilty of Fundamental Dishonesty. The lawyers representing Aviva said that the Claimant’s damages were estimated at £4500 but by exaggerating his injuries, by 4 or 5 times the true amount, Mr Bardsley had lost everything. He was also ordered to pay £14000 in legal costs.

It is therefore extremely important when bringing a claim for Personal Injury that you are completely honest about your accident, your injuries, their seriousness, their effects upon you and that any additional damages you are claiming are genuine. Exaggeration should be avoided. As seen in the above case, if a claimant is found to have been Fundamentally Dishonest it often means that their whole claim is struck out and not just the element proved to have been exaggerated. They may also be found liable for the defendant’s legal costs as well as their own Solicitor’s costs. In some cases dishonest claimants have faced criminal proceedings for contempt of court and jailed for their dishonesty.

We always advise clients that it is of the utmost importance for them to be honest and open when providing instructions regarding all aspects of their claim as well as the likely consequences if they are not.

Fortunately, the vast majority of Personal Injury claims (well over 90% according to published statistics) are run without any mention of Fundamental Dishonesty.

If you would like advice from our expert lawyers please call us on 0114 218 4000 or email P.I. Dept@tayloremmet.co.uk

Julie Moore

Julie is a litigation executive at Taylor&Emmet LLP. She assists in a wide variety of cases inducing those concerning accidents at work and RTA's. Julie started working at Taylor&Emmet in 2009, prior to joining the firm she worked at a law firm in Leeds having graduated from the city too. For more information on this topic email julie.moore@tayloremmet.co.uk or call her on 0114 218 4161.

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