Northern Ireland

Car crash 'staged' for drivers to claim compensation rules judge

Belfast High Court
Image caption The case went to the High Court in Belfast on appeal after it was thrown out at Ballymena County Court last year

A car crash was staged as part of a "web of deceit" to try to secure compensation, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Gillen said both the alleged injured man and a second motorist he sued were involved in a plot linked to up to seven whiplash claims.

Marcin Marciniec brought a personal injury case following the collision in Antrim in July 2011.

Mr Marciniec, from Poland, was in a car with three other fellow nationals.

He sued Arkadiusz Gruszczynski for driving into the back of him at the junction at a roundabout in the town.

Mr Gruszczynski was one of four more Polish people in the second car.

The plaintiff claimed he did not know the defendant, but had seen him a couple of times about the town.

According to his case the collision inflicted £850 worth of damage to his car.

He also stated that it resulted in a loss of earnings and a caused neck injury which took up to 10 months to recover from.

It emerged that seven of the eight Polish people in the two cars brought claims for whiplash injuries.

The case went to the High Court on appeal after it was thrown out at Ballymena County Court last year.

Defending the action, insurers alleged the collision had been staged to set-up a dishonest claim.

In a verdict published on Tuesday, Mr Justice Gillen identified discrepancies in Mr Marciniec's account, describing him as "evasive and completely unconvincing".

Deliberate deception

Mr Gruszczynski's evidence was equally rejected as being a rehearsed defence of what would be put to him in court.

Clear evidence of both men's deliberate deception lay in their denying knowledge of the personnel involved in this accident, according to the judge.

"There was no basis on which the plaintiff could have informed the lower court that he did not know the first defendant or the name of the person who had sold his vehicle to him when that person had been a workmate working together with him," he said.

"When one adds that to the coincidence that the previous owner of the car had in fact been a business partner of the first defendant (Mr Gruszczynski), the web of deceit grows larger."

Mr Justice Gillen dismissed suggestions that the insurance company allowed suspicions to be fuelled by the nationality of those involved.

"I am convinced that it has been the multi-occupancy and the fact of seven whiplash claims that has excited its investigation," he added.

"Polish people are a most welcome addition to the rich multicultural tapestry that increasingly now makes up the population of Northern Ireland and I can conceive of no reason why nationality alone would engender suspicion in a case of this kind."

Upholding the decision to reject Mr Marciniec's case, he confirmed: "I have therefore come to the conclusion on the balance of probabilities that the entire collision was fraudulently staged by the first named defendant and the plaintiff was complicit in this enterprise."

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