High Court overturns ruling that claimant was not fundamentally dishonest

Spencer: Claimant gave fundamentally dishonest accounts

The High Court has overturned a ruling that a claimant who defeated an argument that a car accident he was involved in was bogus, but lied about his injuries, was not fundamentally dishonest.

Mr Justice Martin Spencer said David Craig Pegg suffered a more serious back injury after falling off a quad bike – a month after suffering whiplash injuries in the car crash – but failed to mention it when he was examined by an expert for his whiplash claim.

The High Court heard in Pegg v Webb and another [2020] EWHC 2095 (QB) that the driver of the car, David Webb and his insurer Allianz Insurance alleged at trial that Mr Pegg was fundamentally dishonest because the collision “never happened” or was “contrived”.

His Honour Judge Rawlings in Stoke-on-Trent rejected these allegations. However, the defendants also argued that Mr Pegg had so exaggerated his injuries and misled Dr Shakir “both in what he said and what he failed to say” that he had been fundamentally dishonest.

The judge ultimately dismissed the claim but did not find fundamental dishonesty, making what Martin Spencer J described as an “unusual order” for costs.

On the grounds that the bogus crash allegation turned a one-day fast-track claim into a two-day multi-track claim, HHJ Rawlings ordered the defendants to pay 60% of the claimant’s costs. The defendants appealed against that order.

Martin Spencer J said that instead of seeing a GP after his car accident in June 2016 or going to hospital, Mr Pegg instructed solicitors, who arranged physiotherapy and a medical examination.

Exactly a month later, he injured his back after having “a fall when he rolled his quad bike”, then “felt sudden onset of pain to his left lower back” when lifting the bike a week later.

Mr Pegg went to A&E that evening, where he was prescribed diazepam and codeine and referred to physiotherapy.

Martin Spencer J said there was no evidence that Mr Pegg told the hospital or a walk-in centre he attended two days later about the whiplash injuries, which was “inexplicable” if his later evidence about them was “anywhere close to being correct”.

The judge described this as Mr Pegg’s “first deafening silence”.

The second was at his medical examination for the whiplash injuries in August 2016, when he “deliberately failed” to tell the doctor about falling off the quad bike “in order to mislead [him] about the effects of the car accident”.

Two “positive lies” told the doctor were that he was still feeling the effects of whiplash injuries to his neck and still having physiotherapy.

“The claimant then compounded the dishonesty towards Dr Shakir by lying about the longevity of the injuries in the claim form and his witness statements and, even worse, adopting Dr Shakir’s description of the injuries and prognosis of six months’ recovery when he knew that Dr Shakir had been misled by him into giving this prognosis.”

The judge went on: “In my judgment, on the basis of the above, no judge could reasonably have failed to have come to the conclusion that the claim for damages as presented by the claimant in this action was a fundamentally dishonest one, perpetrated by fundamentally dishonest accounts to the only medical expert and in the various court documents.”

Martin Spencer J agreed that the claim should be dismissed and ruled that it was a case of fundamental dishonesty.

He ordered Mr Pegg to pay 70% of the defendants’ costs, on the indemnity basis, reducing this from 100% because a “significant part of the evidence and court time” at the earlier hearing was spent determining whether the accident was bogus or the result of collusion.

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.