Media exec, 34, left brain damaged by drink-driver wins £1.67M payout after insurance firm claimed her ‘glossy’ Instagram posts proved she was LYING about her career-ending injuries
- Natasha Palmer, 34, suffered a brain injury when a drink-driver crashed into her
- The crash left her disabled and unable to work due to severe migraines
- She sued the other driver, Seferif Mantas, who was convicted of drink-driving
- But his insurers, Liverpool Victoria, accused her of ‘fundamental dishonesty’
- Their lawyers submitted Instagram pictures of Ms Palmer ‘enjoying holidays’
- A judge said the pictures were to put a ‘gloss’ on her life and awarded her £1.67m
A former media executive who was left brain damaged after a crash has been awarded a £1.67million payout after an insurance firm claimed her ‘glossy’ Instagram posts proved she was lying about her injuries.
Natasha Palmer, 34, suffered a brain injury when a drink-driver smashed into the back of her Renault Clio at high speed on the M25 in 2014.
She was left disabled and unable to work due to severe migraines, poor memory and concentration, light sensitivity and anxiety, as well as dizziness that she described to a doctor as making her ‘walk like she was drunk’.
But after she sued the other driver, Seferif Mantas, who was convicted of drink-driving, for damages of more than £2million, his insurance company accused her of ‘fundamental dishonesty’ and exaggerating her problems.
Lawyers for Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd submitted more than 700 hundred pages of social media posts to the High Court which they said proved she had been lying about the effects of the crash.
The Instagram posts, uploaded by Ms Palmer, showed her enjoying holidays skiing and in India, attending music events and completing sporting challenges including a 10km Bear Grylls obstacle run.
But Judge Anthony Metzer QC awarded her a massive compensation payout after accepting her Instagram posts ‘did not present a complete picture, as she would tend to put a positive gloss on how she was doing as she wished to obtain more likes.’
‘Social media tends to paint a glossy picture of the poster’s life,’ he said, handing her £1,679,406 in damages, £1.2million of which came from loss of earnings as the judge noted she was on course to earn £75,000 a year had it not been for the crash.
Natasha Palmer has been awarded £1.67million in damages after she was left with a brain injury following a crash involving a drink-driver on the M25 in 2014
Following the crash in 2014, the court heard Ms Palmer also suffered damage to her neck, chest, back and ribs, was left with a disjointed memory after the accident, and her car – which had been an 18th birthday gift – was written off.
She has been unemployed since November 2017, Mr Metzer said, and has been receiving employment support allowance since January 2018.
Seferif Mantas was later convicted of drink-driving, the court was told.
Lawyers for Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd accepted liability but hotly disputed the extent of the injuries claimed by Ms Palmer, accusing her of ‘fundamental dishonesty’ in exaggerating her case.
Although she claimed damages of more than £2million for injuries which she said wrecked her career, defence lawyers said her case was worth just £5,407.
Ms Palmer, a once fitness fanatic and skier, faced claims she had lied about the impact the accident had had on her life and that her Instagram posts proved that.
The insurer’s barrister, Charles Woodhouse, claimed her posts showed Ms Palmer had taken part ‘in much more significant physical exercise than she admits in her witness statements or to any of the medical experts’.
‘Ms Palmer’s social media posts also show her attending musical and other events with large numbers of people and noise,’ he added.
He also said she had gone travelling to India four months after the crash and taken a skiing holiday in the Rockies in February 2016.
The judge said: ‘It is undoubtedly clear that some of the images portrayed on the claimant’s social media call for an explanation as they appear to depart from how the claimant summarised the extent of her restricted lifestyle both in her earlier witness statements and in the interviews with the numerous medical legal experts.
But he added: ‘In determining how much reliance to place upon those social media posts, I consider it is necessary to express a level of caution…social media tends to paint a glossy picture of the poster’s life.
‘The claimant repeatedly denied that she had intended to mislead anyone.
‘In respect of the social media posts, which would include holiday photographs, she stated they did not present a complete picture as she would tend to put a positive gloss on how she was doing as she wished to obtain more likes.
‘She described her social media posts as a snapshot of what you want people to see, the positive and exciting side of your life, not the day-to-day difficulties.
‘It appears to be uncontentious evidence that people, including the claimant, would tend to post positive and upbeat messages and images.
‘It was…important to the claimant’s identity to be seen by friends or others as doing normal things,’ he added.
He went on to find that she was not being dishonest about her sporting activity being severely impacted, despite the images she posted.
‘She had always been competitive, had been a sports captain, had been in competitions and had skied,’ Mr Metzer said, and prior to the crash she had been training for a marathon.
Ms Palmer sued the other driver, Seferif Mantas, who was convicted of drink-driving, for damages of more than £2million, but his insurance company accused her of ‘fundamental dishonesty’ and exaggerating her problems by claiming her Instagram posts showing holidays proved she was lying
The sporting activity she undertook afterward and posted about was ‘relaxing’ in comparison, Mr Metzer said, pointing out she took three hours and 40 minutes to finish the Bear Grylls event at ‘a gentle jog’ and missed out several obstacles.
‘I found the claimant to be an honest, helpful, impressive and dignified witness in her own case,’ he said.
‘I consider that the substantial number of symptoms the claimant now has arose from the outset of the accident and were caused or substantially contributed by it.’
He concluded that Ms Palmer, who formerly worked in media and marketing for the Ministry of Sound nightclub and the Hippodrome Casino, would have progressed in her career to become a chief marketing officer on a £75,000-a-year salary had it not been for the accident.
He handed her £1.2million for future loss of earnings as part of her £1.67million payout.
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