April 15, 2007

Huge bill for injury claims revealed

Suffolk (UK) schools have paid out £646,000 in personal injury claims over the past five years, it emerged today.

The biggest damages payments were given to a teacher, who was awarded nearly £200,000 after being attacked.

Although Suffolk County Council declined to name the school because of data protection issues, The Evening Star has learned the teacher received £199,967.14 in compensation.

The damages were part of liability payouts totalling nearly £666,000 to staff, parents and pupils following incidents at schools.

The largest amount paid to a student for a personal injury at school was £38,322.37, with another getting £11,683 as a result of an accident.

The table of compensation payments was released by Suffolk County Council after a request under the Freedom of Information Act by The Evening Star.

A total of fifty-nine claims were successfully pursued against nurseries and schools run by the council, with 38 made by the public and 21 made by employees.

Among the highest payouts were £ 23,193.64 against Stowmarket High School, £11,683 against Highfield Nursery in Ipswich, and £38,322.37 against Benjamin Britten High School in Lowestoft.

Personal injuries to employees and students also accounted for 12 out of 13 five-figure packages ranging between £10,977 and £90,743 between 2001 and 2006.

The remaining £11,000 handout was to a member of the public who was injured due to a 'property defect'.

The compensation payments were made for a multitude of reasons including theft, accidental damage, bullying, personal injury, workplace injury, and vandalism.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “The total value of the compensation payments that have been made over the past five years in relation to incidents in Suffolk schools is £665,851.

“This represents an average of around £400 per school per year. The total of all compensation payments in relation to the council's 357 schools over the five-year period amounts to around 0.2 per cent of the total schools budget for the current year.

“The figures are heavily skewed by a small number of large payments, such as the single largest payment of £199,967 which was paid in relation to an assault on a member of staff by a pupil. Most schools will experience such serious incidents extremely rarely.

“Claims in respect of the council's responsibilities for public and employer's liability are assessed by the council's insurers on its behalf.”

From: http://www.eveningstar.co.uk

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