Two football fans have been told to pay thousands of pounds in legal costs after making “fundamentally dishonest” claims for compensation over a bus crash that happened as they were travelling to Leeds United’s Elland Road ground.
More than FIFTY passengers on the packed football special submitted personal injury claims to operator First Leeds following the minor bump in November 2013.
But it has now emerged that the first two claims to reach court were thrown out following hearings in April and June this year.
One of the claimants, a 53-year-old man from Pontefract, was told by a judge to pay £7,163 in legal costs while the other, a 51-year-old man from Leeds, must cough up £4,839.
The men had been seeking damages of £4,200 and £2,400 respectively.
It was not clear today how many of the other claims remain in the legal pipeline.
The accident happened when the bus – which was travelling at less than 10mph in stop-start traffic – drove into the back of a Ford Fiesta at the roundabout near the McDonald’s at Elland Road.
There was only minor damage to the vehicles and the Fiesta’s occupants, a retired couple, were uninjured.
Paul Matthews, managing director of First Leeds, said: “When a collision occurs between vehicles of such different sizes, you would always expect the occupants of the smaller one to come off worse than the people in the larger, heavier vehicle.
“However, in this case the driver and passenger of the small car confirmed no injuries, whilst over 50 people on the bus made personal injury claims.
“This was a clear indicator to us that something was not quite right, and it
was worth a full and detailed investigation to dispute the claims in court.
“Our determination to fight fraud reflects our ‘zero tolerance’ approach.
“Our team of insurance and investigative experts rigorously analyse every detail behind every claim.”
Evidence including CCTV footage was collected for First by specialist legal firm Horwich Farrelly, which today said it had uncovered “significant inconsistencies” in the men’s stories.
One claimed he was in severe and constant pain for many weeks after the incident but the firm found he had not taken any time off work and had not mentioned his alleged injuries during GP appointments on other matters.
Horwich Farrelly fraud partner Mark Hudson said: “This sends a clear message to other would-be fraudsters that a fake claim is simply not worth it.
“These claimants have ended up paying almost double the amount for which they claimed – a costly mistake they are likely to regret for some time to come.
“We have a wide range of tools and many resources at our disposal which allow us to conduct detailed investigations in order to track down and stop fraudsters who cost the industry millions ever year, pushing up the premiums of innocent policyholders.”
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