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Faking it

Dr David Gill, consultant psychiatrist, discusses the cause and effect of malingering

30 June 2006

Malingering, the deliberate feigning or exaggeration of illness for gain, is a potential nightmare for every PI lawyer. However, lawyers and doctors may both be reluctant to discuss it openly, and there is little accurate scientific information available.

Definition

In the context of personal injury litigation, malingering is essentially the claimant trying to deceive the system into compensating him for non-existent or exaggerated injury. It includes:

1. Pure malingering: complete fabrication of symptoms.

2. Partial malingering: exaggerating real symptoms or saying that past symptoms are continuing.

3. False attribution: falsely saying that

real symptoms are due to a compensatable accident.

Let’s pretend

It would of course be much more convenient all-round if patients never did this. Some doctors and lawyers still seem to cling to this fond delusion. Doctors are uncomfortable with the idea, as it...

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