Disabled man's legal victory over insurers who thought his injuries were faked (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Disabled man's legal victory over insurers who thought his injuries were faked
1:49pm Wednesday 16th March 2011 in News
A WAREHAM man severely disabled in a crash has won a legal battle against insurers who said he had lied about how badly injured he was.
43-year-old Mark Noble, of Wareham, Dorset, was left dependent on a wheelchair and crutches after being knocked off his motorbike at Cadnam in 2003.
He was awarded £3.4 million in damages by a judge in March 2008 after motorist Martin Owens admitted liability for the accident.
The judge said Mr Noble, a builder by trade, could no longer work and needed daily care after a "severe and life-threatening" fracture to his pelvis caused him considerable pain and a serious psychiatric disorder.
But later that year a neighbour called the insurers, Direct Line, who started four months of surveillance.
They took the resulting footage to the Court of Appeal, who made an order freezing the £2.25 million already paid out.
Today, Mr Justice Field, in London, dismissed the claim that Mr Noble had dishonestly misled the court.
He said: "At the time of the trial, Mr Noble was determined to try to walk unaided and may have been confident that somehow he would succeed in doing so, but he did not dishonestly conceal from the court or the expert witnesses his then true state of disability or dishonestly emphasise his disability."
Mr Noble denied the allegations but said he had always tried to do as much as he could, despite his injuries.
Hard work in the gym, strong medication and a cortisone injection had got him to the point where he could walk short distances without crutches on a good day, but otherwise he needed a wheelchair or other transport.
He said that his motivation to walk without crutches was to walk his partner, Janet, down the aisle unaided.
His ability to work, as shown in the surveillance evidence, was a modest improvement - but not a dramatic or significant one.
The judge said in light of the evidence, he had come to the conclusion that the insurers had failed to prove the allegation of fraud against Mr Noble, who he described as a "proud and determined man".
He added: "If Mr Noble really did dishonestly conceal the true state of mobility, he would have had to have spun an extremely wide and complicated web of deception."