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Published 14 March 2016
DAC Beachcroft's counter fraud team were delighted to work with our insurer client (and alongside the third party insurer) to investigate and defend this case. This is one of a number of cases DAC Beachcroft's counter fraud team have successfully defended on causation arguments involving large commercial vehicles such as buses and HGV's. It is important that insurance companies take a tough approach in cases where great evidence exists to defend spurious and exaggerated whiplash claims like these. We hope that the robust stance in this case sends a clear message to potential claimants thinking of making opportunistic claims against commercial insureds.
The index collision occurred on the evening of 15th September 2012 on a roundabout leading from the A500 towards Nantwich. The collision involved a Ford Fiesta and a privately hired double decker "party bus". The bus was being used to transport a number of revellers to an event organised by the Garlands Nightclub in Crewe.
The incident occurred as both vehicles were proceeding on the roundabout, with each driver arguing that the other driver was positioned in the incorrect lane. Liability was been agreed on a 60/40 basis in favour of the Policyholder. Personal injury claims were intimated by 47 passengers purportedly travelling on board the bus at the time.
However, both the policyholder and the driver of the bus contended that this was a low speed collision that was incapable of causing injury. Accordingly, this presented a somewhat novel situation whereby both drivers were supporting the notion that the index collision was a low speed impact.
Numerous sets of proceedings were commenced by a total of 23 different Claimants. A further 24 claims remained sat in the background. The various sets of proceedings were case managed together at the request of the Defendants and a forensic engineer's report was obtained to strengthen the existing testimony of each driver. Both drivers performed well as witnesses during a roundtable conference with Counsel and compelling repudiation letter was sent to each Claimant essentially inviting them to discontinue their claims. A number of Claimants were quick to lose their appetited for litigation and their claims were successfully repudiated during the directions stage of proceedings. Others put up more of a fight but eventually all of the Claimant's elected to abandon their claims prior to Trial.
This was an excellent result for the client especially given that it had been established from the outset that the speed of both vehicles was well above the threshold for low speed impact claims (typically 5 mph). Additionally, the volume of Claimants that presented claims could have been used as persuasive evidence to support the supposition that injuries had occurred. Finally, because the Claimants were not restrained by seatbelts at the time of the accident, we had to be alive to the fact that there was greater scope for our opponents to argue that the bus passengers were more vulnerable to displacement and injury.
The story made the national press - please see link here: The Guardian
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