Beauticians, Behaviours and Bogus Claims

Beauticians, Behaviours and Bogus Claims's Tags

Tags related to this article

Beauticians, Behaviours and Bogus Claims

Published 26 marzo 2018

The proportion of claims handled by DAC Beachcroft Claims Limited involving allegations of negligence by beauticians, spas and leisure centres and breach of duty by employers of carers in which fraud concerns have been raised, has increased significantly recently. We explore below a number of behaviours we have noted in these areas, and strategies you may wish to adopt in relation to them.

Over recent months, we have noted a significant increase in claims presented in the Fitness, Leisure and Beauty industry, many claims being presented against pop up beauty therapy parlours which presents challenges in obtaining evidence from businesses which have ceased trading.

The claims received include slips and trips before and after care and claims for negligent treatment such as waxing burns, hair dye burns and misplaced eyebrow tattoos, the claims being supported by photographs before and after the alleged injury.

The scrutiny of treatment records, obtaining of evidence from the treating beauticians and searches of social media, often provide evidence through which the claims can be repudiated and the passage of time and closure of the beauty parlours does not necessarily prevent the defence of the claim.

Alongside the spike in public liability claims against beauticians, spas and leisure centres, we have noted a recent increase in the proportion of claims presented by carers, which are either fabricated or exaggerated. Many claims by carers relate to accidents or alleged attacks in the home of service users or rooms of care home residents, accidents which are not witnessed or are witnessed by individuals whose age or medical condition prevents their giving evidence in relation to the claim.  Claims for manual handling and for slips and trips are frequent, often giving rise to allegations of acceleration injuries which are based to a significant extent on the history given by the Claimant; the nature of these claims leaves them open to exaggeration, and the nature of the work enables the presentation of fabricated incidents.

Housekeeper's claim slips up

The Claimant alleged that she suffered injuries when she slipped on a wet floor (with no warning signs) in the kitchen of the care home in which she worked. Whilst breach of duty was admitted, the evidence of the injuries alleged was inconsistent, the Claimant failing to report her accident for over a week continuing to work for a number of days before taking time off, and her medical records making no reference to the accident. DAC Beachcroft obtained evidence from the Claimant's supervisor, to whom she had reported that she had not suffered injuries at the time of her fall, and obtained evidence that her absence from work was reported by the Claimant to have been caused by stress at work following disciplinary action rather than physical injuries. Following DAC Beachcroft's challenge to her claim, the Claimant discontinued the claim.

DAC Beachcroft's counter-fraud and casualty teams operate opponent based strategies, based on our experience of defending claims presented by certain law firms and our sharing knowledge within our teams, which shape our litigation strategies, enabling us and our clients to secure the most favourable outcomes in claims. We set out below four examples of information which enables us to develop opponent based strategies.

The first firm is noted to present poor quality claims involving illogical and implausible circumstances which do not appear to be vetted before litigation and are handled by very junior inexperienced fee earners who lack technical knowledge and have limited negotiation skills. When dealing with claims presented by that firm, early repudiation of claims supported by evidence is recommended, and if the claim is pursued early disclosure of medical records and other documents should be sought.

A second firm frequently instructed medical experts who do not respond to part 35 questions, raising questions over whether the experts have confidence in the reports they produce; in cases presented by this firm, formal part 35 questions should be raised of the expert, reminding the experts of their duties to the Court, and if not answered the merit of applications for orders allowing the Defendant to obtain expert evidence should be considered;  the risk of experts responding to questions frequently results in claims being discontinued by this firm. 

The third firm is noted to pursue weak claims to trial on liability, at which its claims are frequently dismissed. A strong stance on liability (where appropriate) should be maintained when defending claims presented by this firm, but it is important to ensure that the pre-action protocols are followed as, despite the introduction of fixed costs for claims falling from the Portal, this firm is noted to be swift to make pre-action applications for disclosure.

The impact of internal targets has been noted with a fourth firm, in which individual fee earners are given targets for the number of files settled each week. As a consequence, negotiating settlement on a Thursday afternoon provides opportunities to reach favourable settlements as the fee earners are keen to meet their targets. 

All 14 lawyers in DAC Beachcroft's dedicated casualty counter-fraud team are qualified legal executives and solicitors, benefitting from the largest national casualty fraud data set in England and Wales. Working collaboratively with the rest of our business, we ensure that fraud leakage is identified and minimised and that cases requiring specific expertise are handled by our counter-fraud specialists, ensuring that our clients receive the appropriate advice enabling them to defend fraud cases and minimise indemnity spend.

The collaborative internal referral process within DAC Beachcroft Claims Limited sees our casualty lawyers identify around 10 claims requiring referral to the casualty counter-fraud team each week and through working with our complex injury and casualty lawyers, we ensure that our clients benefit from our market-leading expertise.

We have seen the clear benefit to our clients of handling casualty counter-fraud claims within a dedicated casualty counter-fraud team. Should you wish to discuss our opponent based strategies or the trends we have noted in fitness, leisure, beauty and care claims, please contact us.

Authors

Claire Laver

Claire Laver

Birmingham

+44 (0)121 698 5730

David Williams

David Williams

Leeds

+44 (0)113 251 4844

Key Contacts

Claire Laver

Claire Laver

Birmingham

+44 (0)121 698 5730

David Williams

David Williams

Leeds

+44 (0)113 251 4844

< Back to articles