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Cyclist who dishonestly claimed £60,000 compensation after collision caught out by Strava posts

Driver admitted liability but insurers' suspicions led to law firm scrutinising Andy Airey's social media feeds...

A cyclist from Bristol who dishonestly claimed tens of thousands of pounds in compensation after a road traffic collision will have to pay an insurance company's costs after posts on Strava and other social media sites showed him running, cycling and taking part in triathlons - with one ride recorded the day he underwent a medical examination for his injuries.

Andy Airey from Yate was knocked off his bike while riding to work in 2015, and was claiming £60,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, medical treatment and “handicap on the open labour market”.

The driver, who was insured with QBE, admitted liability for the collision, but the insurer asked specialist law firm BLM to investigate causation for the injury Airey claimed to have sustained to his knee.

The law firm’s fraud intelligence team unearthed a number of social media posts both before and after the collision, including several shortly before he underwent a medical examination in support of his claim in March 2016.

Four weeks before the examination, he did a 10-mile run and a fortnight later a 100-kilometre bike ride. On the day of the examination itself, he rode his bike for 20 kilometres.

After being shown the evidence, Airey’s medical expert agreed that the road traffic collision could not have been the cause of his injuries and that it was more likely to be due to the onset of a degenerative condition

Airey dropped his claim for damages, but BLM pursued a finding of fundamental dishonesty against him, and the case went to trial at Bristol County Court in August.

His Honour Judge Ralton found that Airey’s motivation for making the claim was to associate his knee injury with the collision in 2015.

He was found to be fundamentally dishonest and ordered to pay the defendant’s costs of around £40,000. According to BLM, in all insurer QBE will have saved around £145,000 in damages and legal costs.

BLM associate Edward Smethurst, representing QBE, said: “This is another lesson to fraudulent injury claimants and practitioners alike as to the importance of a claimant’s social media presence.

“Although fault for the traffic collision was not contested, claiming an impaired ability to run or cycle whilst posting significant evidence to the contrary online will come back to bite you.”

Jon Radford, Claims Manager, Special Investigation Unit at QBE added: “Gross exaggeration of genuine injuries is just one of the many types of fraud that is prevalent in the insurance industry.

“We are pleased with the Fundamental Dishonesty outcome of this case and hope it serves as a clear deterrent.

“Fraud remains a serious issue, but by working to prevent these types of cases, we can help keep our customers safe from similar behaviour.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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12 comments

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Rick_Rude | 4 years ago
3 likes

Years ago i crashed my motorbike into the front of a car and the women i hit tried all manner of rubbish on.

I accidentally got sent some documents intended for my insurers and she was claiming headaches which my insurer had found to be a 10 year old problem, breathing problems though she was a chronic smoker with 2 removed ribs due to it and some other bullshit that i didn't cause. Luckily it seemed her medical records had caught her out.

Times that by all the a UK and you've got a large problem. Don't forget crash for cash as well.

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LastBoyScout | 4 years ago
1 like

I'm clearly too honest.

I got knocked off my motorbike 18 months ago - T-boned by someone pulling out of a side turning.

Fortunately, I was wearing proper kit and got away lightly. Embarassingly, someone who heard the crash called an ambulance - I was up and walking around by the time they arrived and I don't think the paracetamol they insisted on giving me was entirely necessary.

I had a bruised foot for a week where it got crushed between car and bike (always wear proper boots!) and a stiff neck for a couple of days where my head hit the floor (always wear a helmet...). Local A&E examined but didn't bother x-raying my foot - only went as I happened to be visiting a relative on another ward anyway.

I could have tried to pursue an injury claim, but would have been a pretty thin case for anything, especially as I pushed the broken remains of the bike up to my local dealers!

I've not had any problems since and other party's insurance paid out for the bike and damaged clothing.

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growingvegtables | 4 years ago
1 like

Absolutely no sympathy for the guy - he's been found out to be a dishonest fool.

But I note - the guy's a cyclist?  Have I heard of anything similar about UK drivers and the "whiplash-scamming"? 

Google "whiplash capital of Europe", or "whiplash capital of the world"?  Or, FFS, just listen to conversations in your place of work 

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FluffyKittenofT... | 4 years ago
0 likes

Going off on a tangent slightly, but my problem with injury compensation (and it seems at first glance to be relevant to this case) is that if you don't know what caused a disability, if, for example, it's just put down to 'a so far unidentified genetic cause plus an unknown environmental trigger' (as many degenerative conditions are) you are left to struggle with very little support.

Those who can identify a culprit to hold responsible for their disability are the lucky ones. If it's just bad luck or if the culprit can't be clearly identified, you are just as disabled but get nothing.

And of course you also would be well-advised to find a way to blame someone or something that has lots of money (especially in the US). Try not to be severely injured by an uninsured poor person. Hence people can get quite creative about trying to find a big corporation or rich person to blame.

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Xenophon2 replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 4 years ago
1 like
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

And of course you also would be well-advised to find a way to blame someone or something that has lots of money (especially in the US). Try not to be severely injured by an uninsured poor person.

 

Ahhhh...debtors' prison, where are the days?  That got the buggers motivated to find cash  1

 

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The _Kaner | 4 years ago
0 likes

Welcome to Ireland!

We will provide you with a 'menu' of injuries and the expected (maximum) payouts available for each, including a comprehensive breakdown on the 'severity' scales and how to 'milk it' for all you can...

https://www.piab.ie/eng/forms-guidelines/Book-of-Quantum.pdf

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rcdavies | 4 years ago
8 likes

I don't have any sympathy with him and I am surprised by the amount he was claiming.

I was knocked off in February with the driver admitting liability. I could hardly move my right arm for more than a week, I was off work for 3 weeks, unable to drive for a month, unable to ride at all for 5 weeks and suffered from the additional affects of interuppted sleep, unable to shower etc. I am close to settlement for the personal injury and am expecting something in the region of £3k. 

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burtthebike replied to rcdavies | 4 years ago
6 likes
rcdavies wrote:

I don't have any sympathy with him and I am surprised by the amount he was claiming.

I was knocked off in February with the driver admitting liability. I could hardly move my right arm for more than a week, I was off work for 3 weeks, unable to drive for a month, unable to ride at all for 5 weeks and suffered from the additional affects of interuppted sleep, unable to shower etc. I am close to settlement for the personal injury and am expecting something in the region of £3k. 

Which might be why he was exaggerating his claim; the level of personal injury compensation in this country is woefully low, as I know from bitter experience.  You can have a life changing collision and still receive peanuts from the insurer of the person responsible.

I'm not suggesting that we go to USA levels of compensation, but something a little more in line with the suffering caused would be sensible, and might mitigate the victim's feeling of injustice.  I consider the compensation I got when I was knocked off two years ago to be little short of derisory, but the solicitor said it would be pointless pushing for more.

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Silversurfmonkey replied to rcdavies | 4 years ago
2 likes
rcdavies wrote:

I don't have any sympathy with him and I am surprised by the amount he was claiming.

I was knocked off in February with the driver admitting liability. I could hardly move my right arm for more than a week, I was off work for 3 weeks, unable to drive for a month, unable to ride at all for 5 weeks and suffered from the additional affects of interuppted sleep, unable to shower etc. I am close to settlement for the personal injury and am expecting something in the region of £3k. 

I'd suggest that amount is entirely too little for the consequences you describe, particularly if they're the result of someone else's failure to pay due care and attention whilst operating a potentially lethal machine in a public space. You may want to have a word with your legal representation.

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The _Kaner | 4 years ago
8 likes

Stupid man.

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hawkinspeter | 4 years ago
6 likes

Strava or it didn't happen...

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