Council compensation cost over £30 million in three years: bizarre claims

Hoover incidents, and toilet seat catastrophes: bizarre and expensive council compensation

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architectural detail shot of a house toilet

One Bradford council employee was awarded £12,000 compensation after they tried to flush a toilet, and were hit by the lid. Another from Ceredigion received £16,500 after slipping on a cream cake. These are just a couple of the stranger examples of council staff compensation claims over the past three years, which in total have cost us an astonishing £30.2 million.

The figures were revealed by a Freedom of Information request made by the Daily Mail. It found that in the past three years, councils had paid out £30.2 million on 3,100 claims. However, it added that a fifth of councils failed to respond to the request, so the total paid in claims is actually likely to be even higher.

Odd claims also included a Coventry council employee who was given £12,566 after getting her feet caught in hoover; an individual who was awarded £3,370 after falling off a toilet because of a 'defective seat'; and a worker who received £289 to pay for a new pair of glasses after being hit in the face with a Christmas tree.

Some of these claims were paid for by the taxpayer, and others by the council's insurance policy.

Compensation culture

It's easy to see this as the creeping effect of compensation culture. However, the impact of workplace accidents should not be under-estimated. Work is a dangerous place for many people, and in the past year alone 142 people have actually died from workplace accidents. Of course, these unusual incidents may sound amusing, but they clearly caused enough physical trauma to merit a payout - insurance companies are not known for their willingness to hand over money without a very good reason.

In fact, while many victims of workplace accidents do claim compensation, we're not facing the tidal wave of claims you might think when you look at stories like this. A study of government figures, published in Health and Safety journal Hazards in 2013, revealed that compensation claims have actually dropped 60% in the past decade.

Historic

And research from Aviva reveals that there's nothing new about bizarre accident claims. The company's archivist discovered details of a merchant who was throwing rice at a wedding in 1892, and claimed the equivalent of £2,994 after getting rice in his eye.

Then there was the Welsh artist who was blown over by the wind in 1886 and received compensation of £1,796, and the Scottish merchant who apparently hurt himself jumping out of bed to catch his fainting wife in 1895 - who got £2,575.

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