More local councils in hot water due to accident claims

Industry news roundup: week ended 14 April 2014:

Last week was all about injuries sustained by schoolchildren; this week it’s a broader look at how local councils find themselves in accident claim trouble.

Let’s start with Cornwall Council. Did you know that over the past four years it’s paid in excess of £780,000 on personal injury claims? Whether it’s slips and trips caused by potholes or injuries caused by uneven or icy pavements, the local authority has been haemorrhaging cash by the shedload. Nearly £207,00 alone was paid out on personal injury claims in 2013, and there seem to be no signs of slowing down – though of course Cornwall Council has tried to downplay it by remarking that the compensation awards are supposedly unde control.Two Devon councils have paid out about £2.5m over four years to compensate people for personal injury after incidents such as tripping on pavements.

Meanwhile, the past four years have been just as rough – if not worse – for other local councils, especially across the South. In fact between what Torbay Council and Plymouth City Council have paid out the total legal bill has been holding strong at around £2.5 million, with both unitary councils paying out a maximum of around £105,000 on any single injury claim.

Now most people will cry and point and say that this is exactly what they’re talking about when they say there’s a growing compensation culture in the UK. To that of course I say bollocks – these local authorities are as careful as they can be when it comes to minimising their exposure to spurious injury claims. The true problem is that there’s just so much territory to care for and simply not enough in funds or staff to ensure that every pothole gets filled and every rough patch of pavement gets mended. As high as these payouts seem, they could have been much higher.

At the same time there could be a bit of truth to the whole compensation culture myth. For what it’s worth, individuals do tend to make claims more in times of economic uncertainty than not. Even today, several years past the initial credit crisis and resultant economic downturn, the effects are still being felt keenly enough to create a distinct ripple of fear and resentment.

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