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Solicitors Report Rise in Fraudulent Personal Injury Claims

Press release: 30/03/2010

  • Six in ten solicitors (57%) say there has been a rise in exaggerated injuries in the last 10 years.

  • Four in ten (40%) have seen a surge in attempted ‘fakers’ since the recession began.

  • Nine out of ten (89%) think the ‘no win no fee’ system has encouraged more people to make fraudulent personal injury claims.

  • Personal injury costs now add £100 onto the average car insurance premium [1].

New research by car insurer LV= issued today reveals that the legal profession has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people attempting to claim compensation from exaggerated or invented injuries.

The research reveals that over half of all solicitors (57%) have noticed an increase in the number of prospective clients faking their injuries in order to make a claim in the past ten years. Interestingly, four in ten reporting a surge in spurious cases since the recession began.

Among solicitors who have encountered suspect personal injury claims, over half (52%) say the claims are most likely to involve a car accident, with whiplash the most frequently exaggerated injury (46% of all exaggerated claims). Post-traumatic stress was the next most commonly ‘made-up’ injury (21%) followed by strained muscles (10%).

The vast majority of solicitors (89%) feel that the ‘blame culture’ associated with personal injury claims has been exacerbated by the introduction of the ‘no win no fee’ arrangement, also know as the ‘Conditional Fee Agreements’ system [2].

The LV= research found that over six in ten legal professionals (63%) believe that TV advertising of these kinds of services is one of the key reasons for the increase in people reporting false personal injury claims. The other reasons cited were people thinking it’s an easy way to make money (70%), an increased awareness of the availability of compensation (62%), and the need to hold someone else responsible (49%) if they had been in an accident.

With such a surge in suspicious personal injury claims, the legal profession is cracking down on cheats, with the vast majority of solicitors refusing to take on claims, or strongly discouraging claimants, if the facts don’t add up [3]. According to the LV= research into personal injury claims, over six in ten solicitors (62%) now scrutinise clients’ stories very closely before deciding whether to take on a case.

In addition, more than eight out of ten solicitors (83%) said most claimants overestimate how much money they will be able to claim for.

Commenting on the findings, Asim Butt, a partner from Keoghs LLP, a law firm specialising in the investigation and handling of suspected fraudulent personal injury claims on behalf of insurance companies, said: “The research by LV= supports the experience within our fraud unit that some types of insurance fraud are now reaching epidemic proportions. Our legal system is intended to ensure that fair compensation is provided to those who genuinely suffer injury or loss as a result of an accident. It is not there to be hijacked by those who wish to abuse the system by pursuing false, bogus or exaggerated claims. Insurance fraud is not a faceless crime; it is an indirect tax on the public, levied by dishonest people and is an unacceptable feature of today’s society that needs to be addressed.”

As part of the report, solicitors were also asked for examples of cases when they had been approached by people wanting to make claims which were invented or exaggerated. One reported a claimant saying she had being run over by a bus, although the police report showed that she had in fact fallen off a curb. Another reported someone attempting to make a claim as a result of a car accident – even though they admitted they weren’t in the car at the time. The solicitors in question both refused to take on the cases.

Martin Milliner, LV= technical claims director, said: “Genuine cases of personal injury where another person or company is at fault are certainly cause for compensation. However, drivers who invent or exaggerate their injuries to make a claim not only break the law but also push up the cost of car insurance premiums for all motorists. We encourage all solicitors to continue to apply rigorous questioning to anyone claiming a personal injury, and to investigate very carefully any concerns they have about the reliability of a claimant’s story.”

LV= LV= is a registered trademark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

LV= employs around 4,000 people, serves over 3.8m customers and members, and manages around £7.7bn on their behalf. We are also the UK’s largest friendly society and a leading mutual financial services provider.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

  1. Average LV= car insurance premium is £300. In house data shows one third of a premium goes on personal injury costs

  2. Introduced in 1995 to replace legal aid, the ‘no win no fee’, or ‘Conditional Fee Agreement’ system means claimants only pay their legal fees if their claim is successful.

  3. In response to the question, ‘What would you do if you were approached by a prospective client whose story didn’t add up, or who you suspected of exaggerating/making up their injuries?’, 49% of solicitors would refuse to take the case, 28% would discourage the prospective client from making a claim, 2% would undertake further investigation or questioning, 2% would advise the prospective client of the risks or consequences, 2% would refer the prospective client to a senior colleague, other law firm, personal injury lawyer or expert. Only 1% would still take on the case if they thought they still has a good chance of winning (However, NB – sample size of figures of 2% or lower are too small for a conducive sample).