A veritable hornet’s nest has been stirred by the news of a £500 accident claim for a teacher that had suffered injuries while restraining a pupil came with legal fees of more than £60,000, personal injury compensation experts recently reported.
Local authorities across the UK have been subject to work accident claims from teachers for injuries these teachers have sustained in the classroom. However, in many of these cases, the court costs that legal professionals run up in pursuing these claims can dwarf the final compensation awarded to the injured teacher.
Many have pointed to the massive legal fees as evidence of the so-called ‘compensation culture’ gripping the UK, while others put the blame squarely on the shoulders of no win no fee lawyers who speculate on compensation claims in order to generate the maximum amount of court costs they can.
Facing accusations that the practice has a ‘chilling effect’ on public services such as schools, ministers have been urged to clampdown on the behaviour through new legislation, especially in the face of research data indicating that £1.25 in legal fees was paid out to lawyers for every pound paid out to a claimant on average.
Other research found that approximately £6.7 million was paid out to teachers in 2010 for work accident claims. However, the £61,464 in legal costs paid out by North Lincolnshire Council on a £500 compensation claim has galvanised opposition to exorbitant legal fees.
Other local authorities have also paid out wildly disproportionate court costs, such as Merseyside’s Wirral Council, who faced legal fees of £14,300 for a compensation claim of £2,000 for a school staff member who suffered a stubbed toe. West Midlands’ Walsall Council also paid out £14,888 in legal fees on a £1,500 claim for a teacher who strained themselves following a fall.