A couple who previously made a personal injury claim against Acromas Insurance (formerly Saga Insurance) as a result of a motor accident are now being sued by the organisation after they posted pictures on social media site Facebook of themselves caravanning in Italy. The case was brought by Acromas to London High Court, which heard that Graham Loveday, 54, of Port Talbot, drove himself and wife Susan, 52, all the way to Italy from Wales despite claiming he was severely disabled by the accident. According to solicitor Fiona Pask, of law firm Harper Macleod LLP, the case, which began on Tuesday, once again shows the impact social media is having on combating bogus insurance claims.
Fiona says: “Social media sites are proving invaluable in helping us identify false or overstated claims and are ultimately saving our insurer clients from paying money to fraudsters. We have seen many instances where claimants have professed serious injury and inability yet have made posts on Facebook or Twitter that clearly show they are still following active pursuits. It’s now par for the course that we investigate all possible social media sites in order to determine the activity of the claimant subsequent to the accident.”
Although investigation into the pursuer’s injury is by no means a new tool – defenders of claims have always had the opportunity to review medical records and have the injured party examined by their own experts – social media is now taking this to a whole new level, says Fiona. She comments: “The very nature of these sites means that nearly all postings give us a never before available insight into the goings on of the alleged injured party. Before the social media revolution we did not have access to first hand accounts of an injured party’s lifestyle. It was only with significant expense that any such surveillance investigations could be undertaken. Social media is proving to be a major factor in making sure the right decisions are made in court.”
Social media can be extremely useful for uncovering information; however, Fiona urges a word of caution when using social media as an investigative tool. She comments: “Resources such as Facebook and Twitter offer considerable assistance when looking into claims but agents should be cautious of the reliance placed upon such a device. A key example of where things go wrong was presented in a case which we were pursuing. The defender relied upon images and text from Facebook of a person who had the same name, date of birth and place of residence. Unfortunately for the defender in that case, they had identified a different person with the same name – and there was around a 10-stone difference in body weight between the two people. While it may well be possible to narrow a search down by using information available, caution should be exercised in each and every case.”
In the hope of avoiding mis-identification, medical reports can prove to be a useful tool. Most will identify the height and weight of a claimant. In addition, a description of the claimant should be readily available from the defender who caused the accident. As such, while not all cases will guarantee success, with proper investigation it should be possible to limit the room for error.
Photo Caption : Fiona Pask, Solicitor at Harper Macleod LLP