Council compensation payouts shock
Rob GarrattNorfolk councils are paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in compensation for accidents caused by dodgy roads and careless employees as the modern compensation culture kicks in, according to new figures.Rob Garratt
Norfolk councils are paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in compensation for accidents caused by dodgy roads and careless employees as the modern compensation culture kicks in, according to new figures.
Payouts, from a few pounds to six-figure sums, have been made to compensate for everything from fatal road crashes to dry cleaning bills, with hundreds of people receiving sums for damage done.
In the last three years Norfolk County Council has paid out nearly �4m to more than 1,000 people for accidents, injuries and damage to property, with potholes and grass cutters responsible for a large number of claims.
District councils have racked up bills of up to �125,000 for everything from falling trees to paint stains, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.
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Bills to district councils were far smaller, ranging from a mere �8.19 cleaning bill to more than �125,000 over the three-year period.
Nearly half Norfolk county council's �3.96m bill comes from highway injuries, with �1.8m paid out over the three years including �600,000 for a fatality on a Norfolk road due to debris last May.
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Another �1.57m was paid out for more than 100 accidents caused by County Hall's fleet of 2,600 vehicles, the most common accidents being caused when reversing.
Minor injuries are also costing council taxpayers dear, such as a payment of �30 for an unlevel paving slab.
John Baldwin, the county council's risk and insurance manager, said: 'We look at every claim on its merits and if we have met our responsibilities we will certainly defend a claim to protect the interests of Norfolk council taxpayers. Equally if we have failed by not meeting the appropriate standards then it is only right we pay compensation.'
More than 100 people successfully applied to County Hall for compensation for damages caused by grass cutting, normally due to stones and debris sent flying, with payouts between �50 and �637.
Potholes cost County Hall �360,000 over the three-years, involving around 30 injuries and around 90 cases of damage.
Dave Richards, a solicitor specialising in personal liability with Norwich firm Leathes Prior, said: 'We have seen a steady rise in claims due to an increasing awareness of people's ability to make claims.
'If you recognise a case for compensation on average you have 70 to 80pc chance of getting some compensation. When someone trips over on the street normally something has caused it. If councils spent the money mending the roads they wouldn't have to pay out for claims.'
Among the councils revealing their compensation bills were:
Norfolk County Council paid out �3.9m over the three years to more than 1,000 members of the public, including �1.5m for motor accidents caused by its vehicles and �1.8m for injuries on the highways. Claims ranged from �6.99 to �600,000.
Yarmouth Council paid out �1,000 when a tree fell onto a car, and �334 for damage to carpets due to a leaking boiler, from a total bill of �114,200.
Breckland's �31,200 bill was largely due to a �22,500 payout because of damage caused to a home by tree roots.
North Norfolk Council's bill was �38,000 for the three years
Broadland Council's was �6,600
South Norfolk was �10,300.
Norwich City Council refused the EDP's request for information, saying the information was only held by their insurer, while King's Lynn Council failed to provide the information within the legal timeframe dictated within the Freedom of Information legislation.