Compo claims cost council almost half a million pounds

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

WIGAN Council has forked almost £400,000 in compensation in the last 10 months alone.

A total of 52 successful claims were made against the authority between January and the end of October, costing it £389,072.

Out of a total of 324 highway claims relating to injuries made against the council in the last three years and handled in house, only 14 have had to be paid

Council spokesman

The most expensive payout was £168,995 to someone who was assaulted by another resident.

The council was unable to divulge any other detail as it could lead to the identity of those individuals.

Slips and trips on council property was a big drain on the council purse, with eight incidents totalling £96,160.

The biggest pay-out of this nature was £32,182, followed by £18,231.

Someone who suffered burns due to council negligence was awarded £20,783 and an injury to someone in a public toilet earned a Wigan resident £16,039.

Bin wagons caused damage to cars 11 times, amassing a compensation bill of £27,333.

Other council vehicles have pranged residents’ cars a further 11 times, totalling £23,918.

Other claims include flood damage to property; tree damage from council land; wreckage to house due to blocked drains and repairs to a car damaged by pot holes.

The council has managed to reduce its compensation bill year on year, from £968,522 last year, and £1,096.050 in 2013.

The Wigan Evening Post reported earlier this year that authority officers successfully defended two legal actions which saw one woman try to sue the council for more than £70,000 after falling over drunk in the street and another try to sue for nearly £40,000 after falling off a chair whilst cleaning.

A Council spokesman said: “Over the last four years, the amount of money paid out through compensation claims has reduced significantly, which is good news for the local taxpayer. A lot of the claims relate to highways, which since 2012, have been dealt with in-house, meaning a more cost-effective and efficient service.

“Staff from highways and insurance work closer together to deal with claims and to identify accident trends, reducing the potential for further injuries and claims, meaning further cost savings.

“Savings include nearly £200,000 thanks to a 100 per cent success rate when defending these claims in court.

“Out of a total of 324 highway claims relating to injuries made against the council in the last three years and handled in house, only 14 have had to be paid. Because the council has to operate with an excess it means that the taxpayer – rather than an insurance company – benefits directly.

“These savings mean that we can spend more money on providing vital services for residents.

“The model of operation adopted by Wigan Council has been praised by insurance experts.”

Zurich Municipal, the council’s insurers, said: “The joint single team approach that Wigan adopt is by far the best and clearest example of how highways claims should be handled to ensure best value for the council and an excellent, and cost-effective, service for claimants and council tax payers alike.”