Polish man receives compensation after "surveillance" ordeal

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Polish man receives compensation after "surveillance" ordeal

21st February 2013

A Polish man who sustained a serious head injury when he was hit by a car has received £800,000 in compensation, following a legal battle in which the driver’s insurer tried to use surveillance footage of his brother to disprove his claim.

The young man from Northampton, referred to as Mr K – was seriously injured when he was hit by a car as he crossed a road in the early hours of the morning almost five years ago. He spent the days that followed the collision in intensive care, and more than two months in hospital as he recovered from the incident.

But despite his suffering very serious injuries, the defendants – the insurance company of the driver of the car which had hit Mr K – gathered video footage and reports which they said showed he was working, disproving part of his claim which was based on his being unable to work due to his injuries.

“I contacted a solicitor just over six months after the incident,” said Mr K. “I was told that it can take a significant length of time – in some cases years – for the true extent of any brain injury to become apparent, but I knew it was important I got specialist legal advice as soon as possible.

“At the time I was living alone in the UK, and had no outside support from family or friends,” said Mr K. “I contacted Fentons Solicitors because I found out that the firm had a specialist serious injury department as well as Polish speaking lawyers.”

Katie Pendower, a specialist serious injury lawyer with Fentons Solicitors LLP, took on Mr K’s fight. “Although this case was on the face of it relatively straightforward, the defendants seemed to have problems keeping to the Court’s timetable,” said Mrs Pendower, a partner with the firm. “Despite this, we were able to progress the case at our own speed.  By gathering medical evidence and reports as soon as possible after being instructed, we were able to successfully secure an interim payment to fund the rehabilitation he badly needed – with Polish-speaking carers – at a very early stage,” she said.

As the case moved towards a trial to determine the value of Mr K’s claim, the defendants sought to postpone the hearing. “We refused that request as we had all the evidence we needed,” said Mrs Pendower, “and then five days before the trial was due to begin they disclosed their ‘surveillance footage’ to us.”

Mrs Pendower said she was told by the defendants that they had secured video footage and reports which showed that Mr K was working.

“Once we saw the footage it was clear they had filmed the wrong man,” she said. “Mr K - who was in his 20s at the time of the incident – spent several weeks in hospital after this traumatic incident. To suggest that he was in fact fit and well enough to work, implying that he was in some way exaggerating his symptoms, was simply outrageous.”

Mr K said despite his obvious serious head injury and facial scarring, the defendants alleged that he had been filmed by them driving to work. “It was simply unbelievable,” he said. “I knew they were mistaken, and Katie immediately pointed out to them that the so-called surveillance in fact showed my brother.”

Mrs Pendower said she obtained statements from other people who were also in the car that Mr K allegedly drove and from the employment agency who was supposedly employing him - all of which made clear that the individual recorded in the surveillance was not Mr K but was indeed his brother.

“But the defendants would not accept that. They remained absolutely convinced and resolute in their outrageous claims – up until the morning of the trial that is, when they saw Mr K and his brother standing side-by-side on the steps of the court building.”

Mrs Pendower said the defendants then realised their error and promptly entered into negotiations to settle the claim in full. “Within a half an hour of them realising their mistake we had settled the claim on Mr K’s behalf for £1,000,000, subject to a 20% reduction for his part in the accident,” she said.

Mrs Pendower said that despite the serious nature of his brain injury and the fact that Mr K spoke only limited English, the specialist team at Fentons – which included Polish lawyers - was able to deal with the case seamlessly and speedily.

“After the ordeal he has been through, I am pleased that Mr K is now able to begin rebuilding his life and planning his future without worrying about his financial security,” she said.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of serious head and brain injuries.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.