Own Goal for Fundamentally Dishonest Footballer – Football player ordered to pay Aviva’s costs of more than £11,000 after his whiplash claim was dropped.
A court has ruled that a semi-professional football player made a dishonest claim for whiplash following a minor car accident after he tweeted about playing 24 hours after the collision.
Gary Burnett, 24, made the claim following an accident at a drive-thru restaurant in Birkenhead, Merseyside, where no injuries were reported and the damage was minor, which made his insurer Aviva suspicious.
The case centred on an incident which took place on 28 October 2013. Burnett was queuing at the McDonald’s drive-thru, and while he waited to place his order the driver in front reversed his car a short distance after overshooting the food order intercom. The driver misjudged the distance and bumped into Burnett’s stationary van causing very minor damage to the vehicles.
No injuries were reported therefore it came as a shock to the driver (who had immediately admitted fault) and his insurers Aviva when Burnett submitted a claim worth up to £2,000 a few days later. The player, who also worked part-time as a window cleaner, claimed he had suffered injuries to his neck and back which left him unable to play for Cheshire-based Northwich Victoria, for around four weeks.
Aviva, represented by Horwich Farrelly, immediately launched an investigation into Burnett. The inquiry revealed that this was a complete fabrication and that the claimant actually played in a match the very next day on 29 October. He then went on to play several more times during the prognosis period, scoring for his team and picking up a Man of the Match award.
The evidence gathered against him included online match reports and his publicly-accessible Twitter account. This included a tweet “Nice little trek to Kendal later for footy” – referring to an away match in the Cumbrian town – which he posted the day after the incident. Further detective work showed him bragging online after knocking higher ranked team Nantwich Town out of the FA Trophy with a second-half goal, less than three weeks after the accident.
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