General Insurance Article - Man jailed for cashing in on minor traffic accident

A man who attempted to claim over half a million pounds for injuries he said he sustained in a minor car accident was sent to prison for seven months

 Sean Batley, 56, of Scunthorpe was found guilty of contempt of court at the Royal Courts of Justice in London this month. During sentencing, the judge, her honour Judge Coe, said she had reached the conclusion that Batley’s conduct was so serious it merited an immediate sentence of imprisonment.

 The case relates to a fraudulent claim made by Batley in 2016, three years after the accident, for injury and loss of earnings.

 Following a minor traffic accident in Scunthorpe in March 2013, Batley filed a claim in 2016 worth £571,000 for brain injury, spinal disc injury, whiplash and migraines among others. These injuries, Batley claimed, forced him to leave his job as a machine operator in 2014 and spend a year unemployed before setting up his own window cleaning business in April 2015, which subsequently failed because of his injuries.

 However, investigations by law firm Clyde & Co on behalf of insurer AXA revealed that Batley had set up his window cleaning business a year earlier in April 2014 and had never stopped working. Dates on the invoices Batley produced had been altered. The failure of the business was also entirely unrelated to Batley’s health.

 Evidence from medical rehabilitation practitioners showed that Batley had not stopped working while undergoing treatment. Batley’s claim that the accident had triggered serious migraine headaches was undermined by records from HMP Whatley, where Batley had served a sentence for sexual offences, which showed he had had a history of migraines. The road traffic accident occurred nine days after Batley was released from this sentence.

 Damian Rourke, a partner at Clyde and Co who led the investigation into Batley, said: “This is one of the most shameful attempts I’ve seen to turn a minor accident into a huge payday. Once Batley realised his deception had failed, he tried to apologise to the court but it was too late.

 “The law is very clear: if you exaggerate an injury for financial gain, the court can dismiss the claim and punish you. In this case, Batley’s claim was so grossly exaggerated, the judge felt he deserved to be jailed.”

 Tom Wilson, Senior Counter Fraud Operations Manager for AXA, said: “Insurance fraud is a serious crime which has significant consequences for fraudsters. Fraudulent claims result in higher insurance premiums for honest customers as insurers are faced with increased costs. That’s why AXA works hard to prevent fraud by investigating suspicious claims and by taking fraudulent claimants to court when necessary.

 “We hope this punishment serves as a warning to deter others from attempting to commit insurance fraud and shows that we will take all action necessary to protect our customers.”

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