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Anyone involved in criminal activity runs the risk that, if they are injured while engaging in such activity, they will not qualify for compensation.
In one striking case, a car passenger who has been left facing a lifetime of disability following a road accident has lost his £1 million damages claim after a judge found that he was on a drug-dealing venture at the time.
The man, aged in his 20s, suffered severe head injuries and brain damage from which he will never recover. The driver's insurance company declined cover on the basis that the car was being used for a criminal purpose. His lawyers therefore attempted to obtain compensation through the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB), the industry body which compensates victims of uninsured motorists or where the normal routes to compensation do not exist.
The car had crashed after accelerating away from a police patrol car. Following the accident, two packets of cannabis were found immediately outside the vehicle and another in the passenger foot well. The MIB acknowledged that the driver had been negligent, but the man's claim was nevertheless dismissed by a judge on public policy grounds – on the basis that he and others in the car had been jointly involved in criminal activity.
In challenging that decision, the man's lawyers argued that the judge's findings were against the weight of the evidence and pointed out that none of the four people in the car had been charged with drug offences. However, in refusing permission to appeal, the Court of Appeal found that the judge drew inferences from the facts which were open to him in the circumstances.