County council hit by 'claim culture'

Evesham Journal: County council hit by 'claim culture' County council hit by 'claim culture'

MORE than 3,300 people have claimed compensation from Worcestershire County Council over the last four years – costing taxpayers £1.7 million in payouts.

Incidents in schools, people falling over in council buildings or on pavements, and damage to motorists’ cars on county roads are just some examples of a growing compensation culture in the county.

Personal injuries – incidents where someone has hurt themselves – made up £1.5m of the total payout bill.

In one case, a young boy at a county primary school fell off the stage during a play, broke his back and hip and secured a “hefty” pay-out.

Your Worcester News can also reveal how the figure would have soared even higher, had the council not managed to successfully reject 73 per cent of the claims.

The findings have ignited concerns of a compensation culture gone mad, as so many claims were thrown out.

We can also reveal a staggering 500 claims dating back from 2009 to last month are still unsettled, meaning the bill could rise.

The county council says it will not give specific details on cases won or lost, partly due to concerns it could lead to copy-cat claims.

But of the 3,335 claims between 2009 to 2013, 903 were for personal injury, such as a teacher falling over in school or a driver suffering whiplash after swerving on a poorly maintained road.

The remaining 2,432 claims were for damage to vehicles or property, of which car damage makes up a significant proportion.

The average personal injury pay-out since 2009 was £11,000, while for vehicle or building damage it was around £750.

A spokesman for the Taxpayers Alliance said: “This is a huge bill and suggests a compensation culture that is getting out of hand at taxpayers’ expense.

“These claims not only involve wasting money on pay-outs but also exorbitant legal fees that are often far higher.

“The council must resist frivolous claims to ensure taxpayers are protected from chancers and their unscrupulous lawyers looking to take advantage.”

One those to lose a claim is Derek Jones, 54, of Norton, near Worcester who went over a pothole in nearby Church Lane last year, damaging his Kia Cee'd.

He said: “It cost me £165 to put right, and to this day I’ve no idea why I didn’t get my money.”

Councillor Philip Gretton, who chairs the county council’s watchdog-style audit committee, said: “All the claims are managed with due diligence and on a case-by-case basis.”

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “The fact the figures have fallen show we are getting on top of it, but I’m disappointed we still have so many coming in.

“In cases where we are liable of course we must pay but the odd people do try it on.”

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers says there are “misconceptions” about people faking it.

Deborah Evans, the chief executive, said: “The fact is, not every bump and bruise results in compensation, despite some misconceptions.”

WORCESTERSHIRE’S TALE OF COMPENSATION Total claims settled defended ongoing* 2009/10 1,347 312 1,010 25 2010/11 830 152 651 27 2011/12 412 65 306 41 2012/13 746 76 459 211 * The ongoing claims include around 300 so far in 2013/14.

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Comments (8)

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11:15am Sat 14 Dec 13

b1ackb1rd says...

Compensation is not the same as having your losses settled, there is no good reason why this gent didn't have the cost of his wheel damage paid.
I think it's fairer to say that the council reject every claim, and that only 27% have persisted !
Maintain the roads, keep our kids safe ... and take the money out of ridiculous top heavy management and vanity projects.
Compensation is not the same as having your losses settled, there is no good reason why this gent didn't have the cost of his wheel damage paid. I think it's fairer to say that the council reject every claim, and that only 27% have persisted ! Maintain the roads, keep our kids safe ... and take the money out of ridiculous top heavy management and vanity projects. b1ackb1rd

11:38am Sat 14 Dec 13

copierman says...

Why is damaged to a car caused by poorly maintained roads classed as compensation culture? Come on WCC get real and mend the roads in the first place you will save £1.84 million in payouts plus your own staffs wages who try to reject the claims.
Why is damaged to a car caused by poorly maintained roads classed as compensation culture? Come on WCC get real and mend the roads in the first place you will save £1.84 million in payouts plus your own staffs wages who try to reject the claims. copierman

12:11pm Sat 14 Dec 13

Jabbadad says...

Why can't the County get liability insurance cover?
And Due Diligence, don't see the evidence of that too much around County Hall when it comes to Duty of Care for Older Peoples services..
Why can't the County get liability insurance cover? And Due Diligence, don't see the evidence of that too much around County Hall when it comes to Duty of Care for Older Peoples services.. Jabbadad

12:17pm Sat 14 Dec 13

jovialcommonsense says...

Whilst I agree that roads should be well maintained, I do believe that as a motorist you are responsible for the safe passage of your vehicle. It is well known that there are the risks of potholes and other dangers on our roads, if your car is damaged by hitting a pothole it is your bad luck, or judgement.
Why should my taxes be used to maintain your car?
Whilst I agree that roads should be well maintained, I do believe that as a motorist you are responsible for the safe passage of your vehicle. It is well known that there are the risks of potholes and other dangers on our roads, if your car is damaged by hitting a pothole it is your bad luck, or judgement. Why should my taxes be used to maintain your car? jovialcommonsense

3:58pm Sat 14 Dec 13

the truth man says...

does wcc have a road maintenance division no they don't £200 +for a ten inch hole if they do it them self the cost would go down and save lots of £££
jovialcommonsense said its your problem bad judgement or bad luck get a grip feller you would have more accidents avoiding them and as for your taxes paying for the damage lets see what you do when your car is broke because of the sate of the roads wheels tyres lower arm suspension on more are you going to pay ?
does wcc have a road maintenance division no they don't £200 +for a ten inch hole if they do it them self the cost would go down and save lots of £££ jovialcommonsense said its your problem bad judgement or bad luck get a grip feller you would have more accidents avoiding them and as for your taxes paying for the damage lets see what you do when your car is broke because of the sate of the roads wheels tyres lower arm suspension on more are you going to pay ? the truth man

4:15pm Sat 14 Dec 13

paulchandbrush says...

if potholes were repaired properly first time rather than painting around hole then tempory repair then back again and again etc payments for car repairs due to poor management of Highways Dept would be far less.
if potholes were repaired properly first time rather than painting around hole then tempory repair then back again and again etc payments for car repairs due to poor management of Highways Dept would be far less. paulchandbrush

6:23pm Sat 14 Dec 13

jovialcommonsense says...

the truth man wrote:
does wcc have a road maintenance division no they don't £200 +for a ten inch hole if they do it them self the cost would go down and save lots of £££
jovialcommonsense said its your problem bad judgement or bad luck get a grip feller you would have more accidents avoiding them and as for your taxes paying for the damage lets see what you do when your car is broke because of the sate of the roads wheels tyres lower arm suspension on more are you going to pay ?
I have paid for repairs to my cars suspension due to the state of the roads.
My car, my suspension, my choice to have and use a car. My responsibility to maintain my own car.
If you feel differently I'd be happy to receive your remittance for my costs.
[quote][p][bold]the truth man[/bold] wrote: does wcc have a road maintenance division no they don't £200 +for a ten inch hole if they do it them self the cost would go down and save lots of £££ jovialcommonsense said its your problem bad judgement or bad luck get a grip feller you would have more accidents avoiding them and as for your taxes paying for the damage lets see what you do when your car is broke because of the sate of the roads wheels tyres lower arm suspension on more are you going to pay ?[/p][/quote]I have paid for repairs to my cars suspension due to the state of the roads. My car, my suspension, my choice to have and use a car. My responsibility to maintain my own car. If you feel differently I'd be happy to receive your remittance for my costs. jovialcommonsense

7:37pm Sat 14 Dec 13

Brummagem Bertie says...

So, when you actually look at the figures, far from a compensation culture going out of control the number of total claims and settled claims is significantly lower than a number of years ago. That would also suggest that the state of the roads is getting better: if they were as bad as some make out then the total number of claims would be far higher.

Make no mistake, talk about compensation culture spouted by right wing papers and think tanks, like the TA, are nothing to do with protecting tax payers' money but all about further restricting the right of ordinary people to be fairly and legally compensated for harm done to them due to the fault of others.
So, when you actually look at the figures, far from a compensation culture going out of control the number of total claims and settled claims is significantly lower than a number of years ago. That would also suggest that the state of the roads is getting better: if they were as bad as some make out then the total number of claims would be far higher. Make no mistake, talk about compensation culture spouted by right wing papers and think tanks, like the TA, are nothing to do with protecting tax payers' money but all about further restricting the right of ordinary people to be fairly and legally compensated for harm done to them due to the fault of others. Brummagem Bertie

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