Stag party revellers from Wigan have been left with a hefty legal bill after losing a £400,000 whiplash claim, according to lawyers.
Sixteen claims, lodged after a minibus was involved in a minor shunt with a car near Chester Races, have been dismissed by a county court judge.
Insurance bosses say the passengers, who have not been named, “rushed to A&E and their GPs” after the collision, obtaining medical reports which were said to demonstrate how much pain they had been left in.
But their case was kicked out by Judge Peter Gregory, following a civil trial at Liverpool - and each claimant was ordered to pay insurer LV= (Liverpool Victoria) £4,000 in costs.
Legal representatives for LV= say that their case was “fundamentally dishonest” and welcomed the judge’s ruling, which they insist could have cost them £400,000 in damages if the class action had been successful.
Several passengers got off the minibus to joke that they had “already won”, according to LV=, though both drivers were apparently told no-one had been hurt before they left the scene.
An investigation conducted on social media is said to have shown that the party enjoyed a day at the races, apparently pain-free, before returning to Wigan to continue with the festivities.
The insurer also commissioned a forensic engineer to inspect both vehicles involved, who reported that the impact would not have been significant enough to cause the range of soft-tissue injuries allegedly caused.
Originally 20 claims were made for damages - two were dropped before the trial and a third claimant failed to turn up for the hearing.
Martin Milliner, claims director for LV=, said: “Fraud doesn’t pay, so we’re glad that these would-be fraudsters have been found out and will now have to repay our costs.
“We always take a tough stance against those who try to defraud us and will pursue false claims to the very end. These conmen should have waited until they got to the racecourse before they tried to gamble on a longshot.”
The court heard that some of the claimants’ medical evidence contained “glaring inconsistencies”.
One ‘victim’ was said to have full movement in his neck when he was checked over by a medical expert in the morning - but had virtually none when he attended for a physio appointment the same afternoon.
And when the engineer appeared to show the July 2015 collision could not have caused serious injuries, the passengers claimed they had been left with whiplash after their own minibus driver had “slammed on”.
One former partner of one of the claimants even told the insurer’s legal team that he wasn’t really hurt in the crash and had instead decided to “jump on the bandwagon” with the rest of the passengers.
Ben Leech, a partner with their lawyers Keoghs, added: “The high number of claimants and flagrant attempt to defraud LV= to the tune of £400,000 means this judgment lays down an important marker in the fight against insurance fraud.”