I read with interest the Lancashire Evening Telegraph article which headlined the paper on the 15th October.
The slant of the article was that a considerable amount had been paid out over the last 12 months because of claims arising from accidents at school. The general angle was critical of the amount spend compensating victims; inferring that many people were only bringing claims on the back of the hated new compensation culture.
Examples given in the article include a child who hurt himself playing football in the school playground and another child who slipped on ice in the playground and received £7,000. The article also went on to mention, however, that the figures also included compensation payouts awarded to victims of historical abuse, some of which took place several years and even decades ago.
As I read through the article I realised that we ourselves had represented clients in many of these abuse cases – specifically the one quoted in relation to Stonecross School where we secured over £50,000.00 damages for our client.
In relation to the figures, for a start, I think it is inappropriate to incorporate the figures for abuse cases with the figures for general accidents and injuries. Abuse compensation claims often arise from events which took place many decades ago and are not necessarily a reflection on the present performance of the Education Authority.
In addition, abuse law is a very specialised distinct area from general personal injury work – as exemplified by the different rules on limitations that exist in such cases.
Whilst it is easy to jump on the bandwagon criticising the ‘compensation culture’ that is apparently so commonplace, it is of course a much more difficult topic to look into the issues that exist, or have historically been the problem, at the schools in question. This is particularly the case when it comes to the cases of child abuse.
Abuse claimants have often suffered the most horrendous experiences which have impacted on their entire lives at the hands of teachers or people in a position of authority. It is my firm belief that their right to bring compensation claims should not be criticised.
By Jonathan Bridge, Solicitor Specialising in Child Abuse Claims