Norfolk’s £11m bill for compensation claims on roads and footpaths
09:24 13 November 2012
Archant Norfolk 2010
More than £11m has been awarded in compensation to people who have had accidents on the county’s pavements and roads over the past seven years, a new report has shown.
Between 2005 and 2011, 6,273 such claims, including cars damaged in pot-holes and pedestrians tripping over pavement cracks, were lodged with Norfolk County Council.
Of those claims, 1,720 resulted in payouts, according to a report which will go before members of the county council’s corporate resources overview and scrutiny panel today.
In the report, officers say there was a peak in claims in 2009 and 2010, where there were 1,018 and 1,098 claims, respectively, which was attributed to a “higher than normal highway winter maintenance claims” because of “severe bad weather”.
Officers said: “The average cost of claims is rising again after a peak in 2007. This is attributed to third party legal costs escalating in recent times and also the damages awarded are higher.”
There have been 290 payouts so far in 2011, but some of the cases are outstanding. The report also revealed that 507 claims had been denied in 2011, which council bosses said had meant costs of just under £6.4m had been avoided.
The biggest single compensation pay-out last year was £63,633, plus £60,822 legal costs, to a person who sustained rib fractures after tripping on a crack on a Great Yarmouth pavement in 2007.
The issue has been raised because a county councillor questioned whether the process for dealing with such claims meant some people who justifiably had cases, were not successful.
John Dobson, who represents Dersingham division, said: “There is no allowance for judgment where there may be considered to be a degree of injustice in the process or to take into account other circumstances lying outside the scope of the council’s procedures and rules.”
He suggested a review of the current policy, which led to officers drawing up the report. But officers say discretionary payments would lead to a surge in claims and heap pressure on the insurance team to handle them within the 90-day period.
If they fail to hit that deadline, people would automatically be entitled to compensation, officers say, even if they had no real case.
Have you recently successfully claimed compensation against a local council? Tell us your story by calling EDP reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org