When filing for a personal injury claim, the insurance companies and the courts will carefully analyse whether the proof presented by the injured party matches various records. This is because the evaluation of compensation depends greatly on the sincerity of the plaintiff when describing their symptoms to physicians, specialists, and the court. This year’s recent court case brought to light and reprimanded us for how important it is to have accurate details and evidence when applying for a compensation claim.
Consistency and Reliability
When making a personal injury claim, the insurers and the courts will pay close attention to whether the evidence provided by the injured person is consistent and reliable with various records. They pay immense attention to the evidence because the assessment of damages relies heavily on the honesty and goodwill of plaintiffs when they report their symptoms to doctors, experts, and the court. If the documents and records do not align with the plaintiff’s evidence, then there is a risk that the court will not find the plaintiff’s version convincing. A recent case about this was played out in the Supreme Court, where the court found the evidence provided by the plaintiff to be inadequate with the documentation provided by the insurer and medical professionals.
The Case – Blackdock-Davis v Popham & Anor  QSC 24.
In this case, a young pedestrian was involved in a serious accident near the Pacific Fair shopping centre. While the pedestrian was walking to work, a vehicle hit a hatchback and it was pushed onto the footpath. The hatchback hit the pedestrian from behind and tossed them up onto the bonnet and windscreen of the car. From impact force, they then fell to the ground when a wall fell on top of them. The pedestrian sustained multiple injuries and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. As the young pedestrian was on their way to work, they were then eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits which assisted with covering their two months off work and physiotherapy treatment.
However, when the evidence was presented to the Supreme Court, Justice Cooper was not convinced that the plaintiffs reporting of the impact of the injuries were reliable. The insurer directed the Court’s attention to various documentary evidence contradicting the plaintiff’s evidence about the extent of their injuries.
The contradictory documents included:
- Hospital records showed the plaintiff needed a neck brace for a lot less time than they told the medico-legal experts and did not reveal certain fractures at the time
- Physio records and records of the General Practitioner showcased that their recovery was going well following treatment, and they did not have significant ongoing problems (this conflicted with what the plaintiff later told the medico-legal experts about the level of their symptoms)
- Employment records showed they worked longer hours after the accident than before. This contradicted the version that they gave to the medico-legal experts. The plaintiff advised them that their working hours were less after the accident
- Records from the plaintiff’s soccer competition showed that they played more games after the accident than initially reported. Furthermore, it also showed that the plaintiff played in a higher division than beforehand
- Records of various social media accounts showed videos of the plaintiff performing rigorous activities and making a mockery out of their back injury sustained from the accident
- Moreover, there was also further supporting video footage of the plaintiff playing soccer in a way that caused the experts to change their views on their assessment of their injury
The court and the insurer did not dispute that the plaintiff had sustained an injury in the accident. However, the court should have awarded the plaintiff more than they had requested. The plaintiff felt that they should get damages over $750,000. However, on 23 February 2023, Justice Cooper only awarded them a modest $40,635.44.
Key takeaways – Reliability
This case further demonstrates the importance of plaintiffs reliability, consistency and accuracy with reporting symptoms and the impact of the symptoms sustained on their functioning. This consistency needs to play all throughout the claim. Overstating the impact of the injury (whether deliberately or subconsciously) might seem like a good idea to some who mistakenly believe it will get them more compensation for the injury. On the contrary, when other records cast doubt on that evidence, it exposes the injured person to attack their credibility and causes doubts about the reliability of their evidence.
The insurers will hunt for records to verify or disprove the allegations made. This is an integral part of their function and role in our injury system. Only claims which can be proven and verified should be compensated otherwise, the premiums we pay could explode.
The more inconsistency between the records and the plaintiff’s evidence, the harder it will be to negotiate with the insurer and convince them to pay fair compensation. Once they doubt a plaintiff’s credibility, they are less likely to want to settle for a reasonable amount.
A plaintiff’s best asset in their personal injury claim is to be “full and frank” meaning that it is best not to exaggerate or embellish the impact of the injury on lawyers, doctors, or treatment providers. But equally, do not underplay the true impact of the injury. Just “tell it like it is” and be consistent across all dealings throughout the claim, rehabilitation, and recovery. If the other documentary evidence corroborates the plaintiff’s version, it makes it more complicated for the insurer to suggest your damages should be lower.
EVOLVE LEGAL – HOW WE CAN HELP YOUR RELIABILITY
You may be eligible for compensation if you have suffered from severe injuries while commuting to work. Providing an accurate depiction of the incident and recovery process is crucial when presenting your case to the court and insurers. It’s essential to avoid downplaying the severity of the injury or leaving out pertinent details. However, it is equally crucial in determining which information is relevant to the court and insurers. The Evolve Legal team can assist you in filing a well-crafted claim by identifying critical information and presenting it compellingly. Contact us today for an obligation-free consultation to determine if your claim is strong enough to proceed.
Posted in: Personal Injury
March 20 2023