Legal Guide

Accident Claims in Schools on the Increase

The news is awash with reports detailing the growth of a compensation culture in the UK, with headlines tending to focus largely on the increase in personal injury claims arising from car accidents.

One of the lesser reported, yet increasingly worrying trends, however, is the dramatic rise in the number of accident claims in schools over the last five years or more. It appears that the compensation culture that pervades British society is beginning to embed itself in the UK school system, too.

Accident claims in figures

The trend appears to be distributed in a geographically uneven manner, but the number of accident claims in schools is certainly on the increase across the country.

Between 2008 and 2013, Gloucestershire County Council, who are responsible for insuring 80,000 pupils, paid over £150,000 in injury compensation to its state school pupils, according to figures obtained by the BBC. 

While this figure alone is staggering, the worrying issue is the persistent increase in the amount awarded over the last three academic years. Indeed, in 2010-2011, Gloucestershire County Council awarded pupils just £27,000 in compensation, while this figure increased drastically for the 2011-2012 academic year to £58,700, before settling a little at £41,000 during 2012 and 2013.

In addition to this increase in claim settlements, it’s also interesting to note that the highest payout made by Gloucester County Council was an astonishing £18,000, with one claim also being settled for an incident that occurred over 10 years earlier.

Size matters

While the increase in the number of accident claims in schools in Gloucestershire is far from immaterial, the figures pale into insignificance if we take a look at the county of Kent, whose council is responsible for insuring over 130,000 pupils.

During the same five-year period of 2008-2013, Kent County Council was required to pay out almost £700,000 in compensation to its pupils, with the largest single payout totalling an astounding £80,000.

The number of children insured by Kent County Council is only 1.625 times greater than Gloucestershire County Council, but they paid more than 4.6 times as much out in compensation to their pupils during the same time frame. Some of this can be accounted for by the sheer size of the county, but it’s certainly gives us some food for thought.

Are the claims legitimate?

Slips, trips and falls are by far the most common reasons for pupils claiming compensation on their school’s insurance policy, with estimates suggesting that accidents of this nature account for between 40 and 50 per cent of all injuries in schools.

While accidents are an inevitable part of school life, however, it’s the astronomical increase in the number of claims that are being made that is most worrying.

While proponents of accident claims may assert that there is a strict legal procedure to follow and so all claims must be inherently legitimate, the increase in claim numbers also highlights that some pupils and parents seem no longer willing to accept that accidents sometimes happen without cause or blame. And until this truth is once again acknowledged, the increase in the number of accident claims in schools looks set to increase. 

The impact

The rise in the number of accident claims in schools does have an impact that stretches beyond the financial. Indeed, with an increasing number of pupils making claims, the process is becoming more difficult for those with genuine cases, as their claims are met with feelings of inherent dubiety.

If your child truly has been the victim of an accident in school that wasn’t his or her fault, the best way to proceed is to contact a reputable injury claims specialist, such as First Personal Injury, who will be able to offer impartial advice and guide you through the process. 

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