New data on Victorian era personal injury claims has recently been discovered in Norwich, with researchers putting several interesting – if bizarre – legal documents on display for an exhibition.
These personal injury compensation documents – dating back as far as the 1860’s – reveal that Brits were making accident claims well before the advent of the much-reviled ‘no win no fee’ solicitors and their conditional fee agreements. Some of the more noteworthy claims include a £7 payment in compensation to a travelling salesman after he was administered a blow to the head – the amount today would be approximately £400 in today’s economy, experts say.
Other documents reveal how a farmer that had been knocked over by a sheep was awarded £100, or about £8,000 in 2011 pounds. Meanwhile the employers of a man who perished after falling into a vat of boiling liquor awarded his family the lofty sum of £1,000, which would have been £80,000 today.
In 1862, a ‘ratter’ who suffered a bite from his own ferret was awarded £82, which would have been approximately £6,800 in a modern British economy. Meanwhile, back in 1878, an innkeeper from Handsworth, Birmingham, was given a £1,000 compensation award after he mistook a ‘poisonous potion’ for a beneficial medicinal draught to aid in sleeping.
Finally, an 1896 document revealed that a twenty one year old Winston Churchill took out an accident policy. At the time of the former Prime Minister’s death in 1965, the policy was still in place, and documents indicate that the well respected, legendary politician never submitted even one claim on the policy in the nearly 70 years he was in possession of it.