31-year-old Michael Richards claimed that the car accident he was involved in left him mute and incoherent. Two people died in the incident and Richards filed a personal injury claim for £2.3 million stating that he needed a carer because the accident had left him severely brain damaged.
He was examined by a top neuro-psychologist and only uttered 15 words during the entire process. However, it later transpired that he was perfectly capable of speaking normally within days of the accident. When the police interviewed him on an unrelated matter, he answered fluently and coherently.
Richards was also filmed working with weights in a gym, driving a car, shopping and waving to friends, all without a carer.
Mike Pope, a partner in the law firm acting for the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, said the jail sentence sent out a clear warning that dishonest claimants will not be tolerated by the courts.
Richards’ downfall was greed. The MIB became suspicious over the size of his compensation claim. When lawyers examined his medical records they discovered that he was also claiming for a sports injury that occurred in 2002. Within days of the car crash, which happened in 2004, Richards visited his GP to get a medical report to back up his sports injury claim. At that meeting he had no problem whatsoever in communicating coherently.
This was used in court as evidence that the claim for brain damage was fraudulent.
Insurance companies lose around £2 billion each year through fraud and honest policyholders pay the price.