Bradford Council paid out £3.3 million over the last three years in compensation to people tripping and falling, with the largest single payout reaching more than £282,000, figures reveal.
The total amount involves 241 claims. A further 1,095 claims were knocked back by the authority as it defended its highway repair regime and robust winter maintenance policy.
Over the three years in question the overall amount paid out has risen, from £819,359 between October 2009 and September 2010, to £1,013,452 the following year, and reached £1,306,055 this year.
But the number of claims and the amount the Council has accepted liability for has dropped in the last year, from 524 claims with 91 covered last year, to 366 claims and 60 of them covered in the following 12 months.
In every year the most common type of claims relate to pavement trips, where 193 claims were made in 2009-2010, with 41 being paid at a cost of £406,959, while 152 were rejected.
Last year pavement trips cost the Council £649,447 with a total of 230 claims, 51 of which were paid out on. This year, this figure rose to £767,532, with 264 claims, 41 of which were successful.
This higher figure can be explained by the largest payout for a complex claim dating back to 2003, which was finally settled in July 2012. The payment involved £198,824 in damages, which included a high proportion for lost earnings, and £83,519 for the claimant’s legal costs.
Andy Whelan, the Council’s principal engineer, said: “We have a robust inspection and repair regime of the district's highways and this has helped to reduce both the number of claims received and the number of successful claims against the authority.
The Council also confirmed that it will try to defend claims as robustly as it can by ensuring that the location is the Council’s responsibility, checking that the highways have been inspected at the prescribed interval, and ensuring that the third party payments are reasonable.
The focus of any claim is normally in relation to the fabric of the road, and the Council is not generally liable for the accumulation of snow, ice or debris on the highway.