A motorcyclist seriously injured in a road accident nearly eight years ago has won the right to keep the compensation he was awarded after an insurance company accused him of exaggerating his injuries.
A story in today’s Guardian tells the story of Mark Noble, of Wareham in Dorset, who sustained fractures to his pelvis and spine and injuries to his head, left leg and both wrists when the driver of a green Renault Laguna pulled into the path of his Suzuki motorcycle in September 2003. He required eleven operations and to this day continues to suffer from incontinence and chronic pain. He is also reliant on a wheelchair for large amounts of time when not at home.
After making a personal injury claim against the driver of the Renault, Mr Noble was awarded £3.4 million at an initial hearing, a significant proportion of which was intended to meet the cost of adapting his home to meet his needs, as well as medical care.
One of Mr Noble’s neighbours took exception to the fact that he seemed to be making a better recovery than expected and reported him to the insurance company, who seemed grateful for the opportunity to recover some of their outlay. Direct Line froze £2.25m of Mr Noble’s award and served him with a court order.
They had obtained surveillance footage of him operating equipment such as a chainsaw and also seemed perturbed that he had not made modifications to his home.
During the appeal, pelvic experts appearing for Mr Noble told Mr Justice Field that, although it was unusual for patients with injuries as serious as those suffered by the defendant to make such a good recovery, it was not impossible.
The judge said that he could see how an injured claimant might decide to “forgo some or most of the aids and assistance for which he claimed and spend the money instead on other things, which in his mind compensated him for his loss of amenity”.
He also argued that a claimant making a recovery better than expected from his injuries after the initial hearing should not incur a financial penalty and could not be deemed to have lied initially:
“At the time of the [initial] trial, Mr Noble was determined to try to walk unaided and may have been confident that somehow he would succeed in doing so, but he did not dishonestly conceal from the court or the expert witnesses his then true state of disability, or dishonestly emphasise his disability. The claim that he dishonestly misled the court at the [initial] trial is accordingly dismissed.”
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