Motor engineering evidence dismissed in grossly exaggerated credit hire claim

  • Claimant’s engineer declared vehicle to be a total loss, whilst our forensic engineer found merely cosmetic damage that could have been repaired at circa £1,500

  • Claimant’s engineer described as ‘unimpressive’ witness and his report wrong

  • The claimant was awarded repairs of £1,500 per our engineers’ report

“Exaggeration of claims drives up the cost of premiums for everyone and this case sends out a strong message that we will fight these cases.”

Background

This was a large credit hire case where the client unusually made the positive decision to not make a without prejudice mitigation payment, considering the defendant’s dash-cam footage which showed a very light coming together of the vehicles. The defendant’s taxi caught the front offside bumper of the claimant’s car which had been parked dangerously in the mouth of a junction on double yellow lines.

The claimant instructed Bond Turner who produced a report from Paul Adams of Evans Harding. He declared the claimant’s Ford Galaxy to be a total loss and ‘undriveable’ due to damage to the wheel and suspension. The claimant remained in hire, racking up £122,000 until the car hire provider blinked first and off-hired him after 564 days.

How we helped

Our legal solutions, Keoghs team’s investigations revealed that the claimant’s vehicle plainly remained in use. It had increased its mileage during hire and crucially, had been insured several times (including with one insurer who was able to give the geo-coordinates of where the vehicle was at the point of its insurance). Significantly, the Evans Harding inspection was also shown to have not taken place at the alleged storage yard as reflections in the engineer’s images revealed a domestic setting, which we augmented with a locus report of the alleged yard showing a very different skyline.

Our forensic engineering team’s evidence refuted that the claimant’s vehicle suffered any more than minor cosmetic damage and found that this could have been repaired at a maximum figure of £1,500. During the process of joint discussions, Paul Adams of Evans Harding was forced to make several concessions in relation to the wheel and suspension damage but maintained that the Ford was undriveable because of damage to the tyre and steering geometry. He also continued to state that it was a commercial total loss.

Judgment

Recorder McAllister found the claimant 50% responsible for causing the accident through his dangerous parking and rejected the claimant’s statement that when driving the vehicle home there was severe damage to the vehicle.

The claim for recovery and storage was dismissed whilst the hire claim was found to be ‘grossly exaggerated’. The claimant was awarded repairs of £1,500 as suggested by our forensic engineers’ report plus a generous 4 weeks’ hire, all reduced by 50% for contributory negligence. Despite the claimant’s costs being budgeted in excess of £30,000, the Recorder limited the claimant to small claims track costs and fees. As such, the claimant recovered less than £5,000 for damages and costs which were claimed at in excess of £150,000.

Damian Ward, Keoghs Head of Fraud, commented:

“This case is significant, not only in terms of the result itself, but the fact that Recorder McAllister called into question the engineering evidence which was central to the claim. The assertion that the engineer and his report weren’t reliable, was a real breakthrough, and very unusual for such a case.”

To find out more about our motor & forensic engineering capabilities, please get in touch with Operations Director, Matthew Stansfield on Matthew.Stansfield@davies-group.com.

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