Council Compensation Claim
Did you know that personal injury compensation claims cost local councils across the UK millions of pounds every year? In fact, it’s often cheaper for councils to keep on paying out to people injured by hazards in public places than it would be to address and fix the hazard that’s causing those injuries.
Surveys published in 2012 reveal that a third of all councils across the United Kingdom that responded had paid out a total of just under £5 million. It’s therefore estimated that the total for all councils nationwide could be at least £15 million. At a time of frenzied belt-tightening and cuts in public spending from both national and local government alike, this news is perhaps not the most welcome.
Nevertheless, the everyday reality remains unchanged, and many local councils still appear to prefer continuing to pay out whenever someone slips, trips or falls or is injured in another way in a public place as a direct result of council inaction instead of directly addressing and solving the problem itself.
In Manchester alone, personal injury compensation claims amounted to more than £5.4 million between the beginning of 2011 and the end of 2012 with a total of 1,161 claims being lodged against the council in the city. Additional court fees pushed the total cost to the council up to £8.5 million.
Between the start of 2010 and the end of 2011, there were just two more claims but the bill to the taxpayer was half as much at £2,565,417, suggesting that an upward trend may be starting to develop. The figures for Manchester alone also suggest that the estimated cost nationwide may be greatly underestimated.
If you’re staggered by such figures, then you’re probably not alone, but this is a situation very much echoed right across the country. Despite this, what must surely be one of the big scandals of recent times remains largely unreported by the vast majority of mainstream British media outlets.
Critics constantly cite figures such as these as yet more evidence of the so-called “something for nothing culture” whereby victims of personal injury profit financially without having to do anything. They also argue that another unwanted consequence of personal injury compensation claims is that is encouraged careless behaviour because the blame will always be placed on someone else.
On the other hand, supporters of the current system contend that this is by no means the case and that victims should be entitled to some form of reparation if they have suffered an injury that they would not necessarily have suffered had health and safety procedures designed to protect members of the public been properly followed.
Information supplied from Rochdale Borough Council suggests that between June 2008 and June 2013, the total cost of claims had reached a staggering sum of £4,087,118.99. The data comprises claims that include, amongst other things, slips, trips and falls in various locations, bicycle accidents and vehicle injuries.
In all, £1,570,160.52 was paid to claimants with legal costs amounting to £2,336,130.49 and £180,827.98 for claimants and the council respectively. The information also reveals that of the 387 personal injury compensation claims made against Rochdale Borough Council in that period, just 21 were unsuccessful. This equates to just over 5% in all.
For the period from June 2009 to June 2013, Bolton Council reports that a total of £2,839,265.65 was paid out in personal injury compensation claims. These claims specifically cover highway personal injuries and vehicle damage, and there was a total of 1,275 of them. Included in the figures are the total costs including damages and legal costs to both the council and claimants alike.
A breakdown of figures from Oldham Council reveals that such claims have cost them £1,389,804 from 2009-2010, £1,734,866 from 2010-2011 and £1,211,637 from 2011-2012. So far for 2012-2013, they have cost the council £104,314. Highway-related accidents accounted for 81%, 90% and 91% respectively for each of the three years from 2009-2012 and had so far accounted for 84% for 2012-2013. Other types of accidents accounted for all remaining claims that were made.
Stockport Council reveals that a total of £3,797,339.84 was paid out in compensation in the borough. Of the 1,542 claims made, 690 were successful, and 852 were unsuccessful making the success rate just over 44%. Of the claims that were successful, the lowest sum awarded was just £27.95, and the highest was £106,705.50. The former claim was made for a wheelchair going into a pothole, and the latter was made for damage caused to a car by automatic bollards.
In fact, a great many claims were made for injuries and damage to personal property caused by potholes. Other claims were made for such things as feet getting caught in holes in the footpath, tripping over kerbstones and driving over defects. In addition to these, one particular claimant received a sum of £24,923.50 for their coat getting caught on the metal around a signpost. In another such case, a claimant received £32.99 for getting her stiletto heel stuck in the pavement.
Whatever your opinion may be regarding personal injury compensation claims, it is undoubtedly astonishing to consider just how much they have cost taxpayers in Greater Manchester alone over the past four years or so. It should always be remembered that behind all these figures and statistics is a significant number of human beings. Every single one is a person who has suffered some degree of injury as a result of negligence on the part of their local council.
Perhaps it’s time local councils right across the country started to act with more common sense and started sorting the problems that are causing all this misery for so many instead of just doing nothing. We might then get somehow, but until that day arrives, accidents will continue to happen afflicting so many with a physical and financial burden with which nobody should have to be saddled.