Teacher awarded £23,000 for slip in a puddle

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Puddle of water on white surface, studio shot

A West Sussex teacher was awarded £23,000 after slipping in a puddle in a corridor and damaging ligaments in her feet and ankles. To make matters even more expensive, the council decided not to pay the claim initially, so fought it expensively through the courts - and ended up having to make the payment anyway.

It's a major payout, but it's far from the biggest.

The Daily Mail reported the payout, which was revealed after a Freedom of Information request was sent to West Sussex County Council.

The Argus said that in total the council paid £125,954 in compensation during 2012 and 2013. The teacher received the biggest payout - followed by a worker who received £18,000 after being hit in the shoulder by an electric door, and another who was paid £5,000 after damaging a shoulder lifting a fence.

Payouts

It's a big payment, but it's far from the biggest to have been made to a teacher.

It emerged last month that in the past year, teachers have received compensation of £40 million - as a result of personal injury and tribunal claims. The figures at the time showed some enormous payouts.

There was a 33-year-old teacher in the West Midlands who won £113,905 after trying to sort out a fight between two pupils who then turned on her and hurt her face, head, right arm and shoulder. She suffered such severe stress that she was unable to work.

East Sussex Council Council received the same Freedom of Information request and replied that £72,000 had been paid out for a 'playground incident' and £54,000 had been paid to a claimant who fell on a school step.

The pupils are making their share of claims too. A boy in North Somerset received £9,666 after he slipped on the wet floor in his tutor room, fell on the floor and broke his elbow. Meanwhile a pupil in Manchester received £19,500 after getting his leg stuck behind a radiator, and in Kirklees a student received £2,100 after an teacher tried to demonstrate trigonometry using a rocket - and the student's eye was injured.

Is this right?

There are those who think these sums are outrageous. Conservative MP for Monmouth David Davies told the Mail: "This does seem a ludicrous sum of money for an accident that frankly could have happened anywhere. Surely the money could have been better spent on teaching the children. But sadly this appears to be another example of the ridiculous compensation culture that has taken grip in our country."

On the other hand, lawyers and unions argue that everyone has the right to work in a safe environment, and that if a teacher suffers because of a mistake the school has made, they have every right to be compensated. Likewise where a teacher is unable to work or has to pay medical bills, they shouldn't be forced to be out of pocket because of someone else's mistake.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: "The tragedy is that in most cases compensation would be unnecessary if employers followed good employment practices and followed health and safety procedures. Instead teachers have their careers, lives and health blighted and millions of pounds of public money has to be spent."

"Behind every one of these cases is a person who has been damaged physically or mentally, either because of injury or unfair dismissal. The distress and pressure of the incident to the individual teacher and their family has often been compounded by years of legal action and court proceedings before any award is made. While compensation is important, it can never make up for the fact that many of these teachers suffer permanent physical and mental injury and often cannot continue in their chosen career."

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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