Tuesday, 17 December 2019

In July 2019, the MIBI was in a potentially difficult position. We found ourselves defending personal injury claims from four passengers in a taxi. The total potential exposure to the Bureau was €240,000.

The claims arose out of an incident in January 2017, the taxi had been barely touched by another vehicle which immediately fled the scene, at a roundabout in Longford. The offending vehicle was never traced.

Following the incident, the passengers claimed to be in shock and could not get out of the taxi. As a result, the emergency services were called and four ambulances arrived. Two of the passengers were removed on spinal boards and a third brought to the ambulance in a wheelchair. Despite the passenger complaining of injuries of a serious nature, all passengers were discharged from hospital within hours of their admission.

While the use of spinal boards may sound ominous, there was a lot more to this particular claim than just the select facts that were being presented by the claimants. The reality was that there was minimal damage done to the taxi vehicle. The motor assessor’s report recorded that while some paint had fallen off the rear bumper, there was no distortion to the panel and only cosmetic repairs were required.

In court, the taxi driver gave evidence that he had been “tipped” from behind by a vehicle driven by a male with a hoodie who immediately drove away. Having briefly left his car to obtain the offending vehicle’s details, when he returned, all four passengers were complaining loudly about being injured. However, a Garda who was quickly on scene described seeing the claimants “chatting away” normally in the taxi.

In summing up, Judge Karen Fergus saw the lack of credibility behind the claim and dismissed it, saying the four claimants had “seized on the opportunity” and had “deliberately exaggerated their injuries.” She awarded costs to the MIBI.

This case illustrates just one of many positive legal outcomes the MIBI has obtained of during 2019.

We are putting extensive time and resources into investigating suspicious claims. Our experienced team of assessors and investigators know what to look out for. When a claim doesn’t add up, we know how to go about getting to the bottom of the incident so we not only get the real story, but also have compelling evidence to back it up. We leave no stone unturned so that when we do go to court, like the case mentioned above, we have all the evidence we need to present a fuller picture of any incident. We believe the work we are doing behind the scenes to challenge highly questionable claims is bearing fruit.

The facts also illustrate how our comprehensive investigatory approach is making a difference. Since we first implemented our ‘Fighting Fraud’ strategy in 2017, it has resulted in savings of over €10.5 million. While in the 18 months between the start of 2018 to the middle of this year, 138 cases have been discontinued, withdrawn or dismissed.

We are also getting better at identifying some of the warning signs in relation to potentially fraudulent cases. Between the beginning of 2017 to mid 2019, we have identified over 1,000 ‘suspicious claims’.

Each of those claims will be subjected to the same battery of investigations, analysis and forensic testing that has proven successful in pursuing this strategy to date.

In battle, it is said that taking the high ground brings a strong advantage as it provides an elevated vantage point, allowing you to take in the full field of view. That is the approach that the MIBI has now employed in our fight against fraud and it is position that has now become entrenched when dealing with suspicious claims.