A warning was issued to all who may be considering defrauding the compensation system this week. A man was issued a three-year suspended sentence following a private prosecution brought by insurance giant Axa.
The company decided to take action against the man after it was discovered that a personal injury claim made in 2007 was fraudulent.
The man claimed he had sustained a back injury whilst undertaking a job that involved repetitive twisting and heavy lifting; however, later evidence has found to prove this untrue.
Medical records showed that the gentleman had a pre-existing condition. A text message also revealed that prior to his claim, the man had been pushing his then girlfriend's broken-down car and the injury may have been sustained that way.
The civil claim for workplace injury proceeded at Southampton County Court and sought compensation of £100,000 from the man's employer. This was in no way a petty claim but an attempt to defraud an insurance company on a significant scale.
Following the materialisation of this new evidence, the man attempted to change his story. His claim was further brought into disrepute when his line manager gave evidence denying that the accident had been reported; the gentleman claimed this process had been undertaken.
Chris Voller, Claims Director, stated that Axa "didn't take the decision to pursue a private prosecution lightly but it is increasingly important that collectively and individually, the industry does everything within its power to combat fraud".
Indeed, it is unusual for Axa to prosecute at all. Often other legal paths are investigated first to bring the individual to justice.
Due to the defendant's wife having what Judge Clark described as a "fragile state of mind", he suspended the three-year sentence handed down so that he could continue to support her.
Many would say the man was incredibly lucky to escape jail time. The Judge himself described him as "fortunate".
Perhaps though, the real victory comes from the message this case sends out: there are serious, life-changing consequences in making a fraudulent claim. Hopefully, it will make others stop and think before they consider going down that dark path.