If any member of the public suffers a serious accident due to the negligence of a public body or private company, it is only right that the perpetrators face the weight of the law and the victim – if appropriate – receives compensation for loss of earnings or reduced quality of life due to the incident.
But there has been an explosion in so-called “compensation culture” in recent years, thanks in part to the rise of companies set up to specifically pursue claims on people’s behalf against firms, employers and councils – for a cut of the pay-out, of course.
While no-one would deny anyone who has suffered genuine hardship because of an accident some kind of remuneration commensurate with the distress or trauma they have suffered, it seems that we live in a world where the cry for compensation goes up over the slightest infraction.
New figures reveal that over the past three years Bradford Council has had to pay out a steadily increasing amount of money to people tripping and falling over uneven pavements or potholed roads. The figure totals £3.3 million with £1.3 million of that being paid out last year alone.
Big organisations, of course, will take out liability insurance to safeguard against pay-outs of this type, but as with any insurance the more claims there are, the bigger the premiums will be.
At a time when local authorities are having to tighten their belts and jobs and services are at risk, we have to ask ourselves whether money spent on servicing increasing compensation claims wouldn’t better be spent on improving the lives of local people.