The Plymouth City Council has been reeling under a fusillade of public liability claims, due to trips and falls on paths and pavements generating a very high volume of fees and payouts.
A grand total of 1,531 public liability insurance claims, with a cost of £4.8 million, have already been settled. An additional 107 claims have yet to be settled, which threaten to add an additional £1.4 million to the final tally.
Pedestrian injuries comprise approximately one out of every four of the more than 6,000 public liability claims made against the city. The entire cost has been calculated at £11.4 million. Not taken account into that figure is the additional £3.7 million still in the midst of the settlement process, a holdover from the council’s 1998 takeover of all city services.
A stipulation of the council’s professional liability insurance requires it to be responsible for the initial £100,000 of any public liability claim brought against it. This means that the council has had the unfortunate responsibility of footing the bill for the majority of the payouts.
Figures concerning the costs of the public liability claims were recently revealed by a report conducted by the scrutiny management and overview board for the council.
While the previous financial year saw only 406 public liability claims against the council, which is a welcome change from the peak nearly a decade earlier. Thanks to in no small part to solicitiors who pushed a compensation culture akin to the aggressive American style, the 2000/2001 year for Plymouth brought a total of 768 claims.
Corporate risk and insurance head for the council Mike Hocking stated that a national increase in claims numbers occurred in the late 1990s. The source of the increase, Mr Hocking said, was due unregulated companies increasing their encouragement efforts in regards to the general public bringing claims against local authorities.