Is it Fair to Criticise Parents for Bringing a Compensation Claim?
I braced myself for the usual compensation culture hysteria as I clicked on the story in the Mail Online over the weekend. The headline was: “Schoolchildren compensation claims for playground injuries running into millions, with thousands paid out for falling over or getting hit by a ball”.
The article (link at the end) gives figures for the amount of compensation paid by some local authorities for accidents involving children at school.
The figures were apparently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and show that compensation claims for injuries in the school playgrounds of Greater London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester were £3.3m over the last 5 years.
Clearly, this is a lot of money which is paid out of our hard earned taxes, however if we look behind the headline grabbing compensation culture bashing and actually look at some of the information given, we can see that a lot of these accidents appear to be completely avoidable and were caused due to unsafe equipment and premises. For example, one child suffered a severed fingertip on a door- a serious injury; another ran into barbed wire, another was injured on a protruding nail; while another child was hit on the head by a roof tile and another slipped on ice.
As a personal injury solicitor, I have acted for hundreds of injured children and I have to say that accidents at school are often very difficult to cases. It isn’t enough that a child is injured at school, that doesn’t entitle the child to compensation. Therefore, if these children have received compensation for their injuries, it’s because their solicitor was able to show fault on the part of the school i.e that the school was negligent and that this negligence led to the injured suffered by the child.
I was saddened to read the mis-placed criticism in the comments made by some readers of the article about the parents who have brought these compensation claims. I’m sure they would feel differently if it was their child who had been injured in a totally avoidable accident at school.
So instead of blaming the parents of these injured children and the solicitors who act for them for the millions being spent in successful compensation claims; start blaming those who are really responsible for this massive expense to tax payers – the schools and those who manage them.