Figures provided for the BBC under a Freedom of Information request have revealed that school injury compensation claims cost Welsh education authorities more than £800,000 (over $1 million) in the five years to 2013.
A range of accidents and injuries were included in the figures which covered 312 school injury compensation claims made by parents on behalf of their children – including trips and falls on school property, slips on icy approaches to classrooms and injuries sustained from faulty school equipment. One claim revolved around the incorrect application of first aid which resulted in a child suffering from painful skin blistering.
The education authority in Cardiff received the highest number of school injury compensation claims between 2008 and 2013, with 74 of these being successful. Newport local council paid out £248,131 over the period in respect of 44 successful compensation claims for injuries at school, while the local authority in Rhondda Cynon Taf had the highest average settlement value of £18,993 per claim.
A spokesperson for the education authorities said that parents were being encouraged to claim compensation for injuries at school by lawyers offering “contingency fee” injury claims, but one mother disagreed – telling the BBC that she only made a claim on behalf of her son who suffered an injury due to a faulty school gate to get the school to acknowledge that the gate was faulty and getting the hazard fixed to prevent other children from suffering an injury.
Owen Hathway – NUT Cymru´s policy officer – also commented on the volume of school injury compensation claims seen in Wales. He commented that if councils failed to invest in making schools safe, and allowed children to be taught in dilapidated buildings, then it was inevitable that children would be injured in avoidable accidents.
Best Injury Claims Footnote: Accidents will happen when groups of young children are together and, if your child is injured in an accident at school, you are only entitled to make school injury compensation claims if it can be established that your child´s injury was avoidable and attributable to negligence.
Any amount of compensation that a claim is settled for has to be approved by a judge before the compensation is paid (even if tour claim is resolved without a court hearing), and the compensation funds are then held in trust by the court your child reaches eighteen years of age.