Compensation costs council millions

A SUFFOLK teacher claimed almost £40,000 in compensation after losing their voice, The Evening Star can reveal today.The case, which along with legal fees cost more than £81,500, is one in a series of five major compensation payouts Suffolk County Council has been involved with in recent years.

A SUFFOLK teacher claimed almost £40,000 in compensation after losing their voice, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The case, which along with legal fees cost more than £81,500, is one in a series of five major compensation payouts Suffolk County Council has been involved with in recent years.

Others include a £135,000 case where fire officer tripped on a cable and a £200,000 case where a teacher was assaulted by a child.

The stories have been released under the Freedom of Information Act following an investigation by The Evening Star.

Our investigation has found the amounts paid out in its public and employer compensation cases has actually gone down each year in the past five years - bucking the global trend of compensation culture.

The council paid out £1.2million in liability claims in 2000/01 but that fell to £0.6m in 2003/04 and 2004/05.

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However, the figures - which reveal £4.1million has been paid out in the past five years - only include claims covered by the council's public and employer liability insurance arrangements - not those in respect of property and motor cover.

The five compensation cases revealed by the council are the most expensive in the past five years. They are:

N A teacher was awarded £100,000 in 2002 after suffering a knee injury, stress and depression because they were assaulted by a child. The total cost of the case was £199,967.

N A fire officer who tripped on a cable left by contractors and suffered back injuries was given £90,074 in 2002. The case cost £135,007.

N A teacher who lost their voice was awarded £37,500 in 2004 and the case cost £81,518.

N In 2002, a resident of the council's home care service suffered back injuries while a carer adjusted a wheelchair and was given £42,254. The total cost of the case was £76,572

N A home carer got £21,487 in 2004 after getting an arm injury while helping a resident get into a stair lift. The case cost £65,647.

A council spokesman said it strives to prevent staff injuries by providing training and is insured against claims from staff.

Hesaid: "We would prefer not to have our staff suffer injury, or to pay out on compensation claims.

"The council's insurers are involved at an early stage in any potential claim against the council.

“The insurers employ expert claims handlers and they undertake a detailed assessment of each claim. Claims will be contested where appropriate, and claims are rejected or payments reduced where this is justified. Where necessary, we challenge rigorously any claim we believe to be unjustified.

"The council has worked hard over a number of years to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries to staff and the public, and this has been successful in reducing both the number and total cost of claims against the council. This helps to reduce the costs of the council's insurance arrangements and so keep down the cost for our taxpayers."

Do you think compensation culture is Britain is getting out of control? Or should more people be claiming for personal injuries? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

2000/01 - 1.2m

2001/02 - 0.9m

2002/03 - 0.8m

2003/04 - 0.6m

2004/05 - 0.6m

A MOTHER who won £4,000 compensation for her son after he fell from a tree at school has today insisted she was not caught up in the compensation culture trend.

Clare Bolt, of Macauley Road, Ipswich, took her son Kain Bolt's case through Ipswich Crown Court last year after his accident at Highfield Nursery School's playground in 2003.

Kain, now six, had fallen from a tree he was climbing and broke both the bones in his lower arm, leaving him in a cast for four weeks.

Mrs Bolt insists worthy individuals should fight for payouts.

She said: "It was annoying people thought we were just getting swept up in the whole compensation culture issue.

"We weren't adhering to a culture, it was a genuine case, and if people have a genuine case and it's someone else's fault, why should they suffer?

"Each claim should be looked at by the finer points of the case.

"Most people don't think it's worth the effort to fight. We don't stand up for ourselves or complain enough in this country.

"I didn't find the process difficult as the solicitors handled most of it. The only thing I was worried about was going back to the school but the staff were fine."

"I'm a taxpayer and I'm happy to know my money goes towards these payouts when the circumstances are right.

"I have sympathy for some of the victims who claimed against Suffolk County Council although when you are at work sometimes you must accept accidents will happen."

A QUARTER of local authorities believe more than 20per cent of personal injury claims against them are made up, research revealed today.

A survey has shown that claims against councils are expected to rise this year and that at least 10pc are fraudulent.

The lies cost taxpayers approximately £200million a year.

The research, by insurance firm Zurich Municipal, found 63pc of local authorities believe claims fraud is an issue and more than a third expect it to get worse.

And in a public survey 34pc of people said they would not do anything if they knew about a fraudulent claim.

The firm's report said: “Local authorities and housing associations believe fraudulent insurance claims against them are rising dramatically, and it seems the public is not prepared to help stop it.

“A quarter of local authorities and one in five housing associations believe fraud is having a significant impact on resources.

“While communities suffer, it is unclear whether the public makes the link between fraudulent claims and the quality of their services. When asked who they think pays for successful insurance claims, over a third (38pc) of respondents believed the costs were met by the council's or housing association's insurance.

“A majority of local authorities and around half of housing associations felt that a fraudulent claimant should be placed on a financial blacklist.”

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