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Many private investigators make a living from uncovering deceit and exaggeration in accident compensation cases. However, in one case, a builder who was injured during a loft conversion project had his honesty confirmed by the High Court and was awarded more than £150,000 in damages from his former employer.
The man had fallen between floors after ceiling joists had been removed without his knowledge. He suffered a grave pelvic fracture that required two months of intensive rehabilitation as a hospital inpatient. Five years after the accident, he claimed to still suffer acute pain and weakness in his right leg due to nerve damage.
The company that employed him at the time admitted liability for the accident, but disputed the extent of his disabilities. It relied on video footage, covertly shot by private investigators, of him going about his daily life on a total of 17 days. It was argued that he had deliberately simulated his symptoms and that he should be denied compensation altogether as a result of his conduct.
In ruling that he had physically recovered from the accident within about two years, the Court noted the great disparity between the video footage and his presentation to medical examiners. However, in refusing to strike out his claim, it noted that there might be a psychological explanation for his continuing symptoms.
He appeared entirely worn down and deeply distressed by his condition and was apparently sincere. It was also very implausible that he was sufficiently sophisticated to be capable of conducting such a deception, faking his disabilities over so extended a period of time. In the circumstances, he was awarded compensation for his pain, suffering, loss of amenity, care costs and lost earnings.