Leeds City Council pays out more than £1.5m in compensation in one year

Leeds City Council paid out an average of more than £30,000-a-week to settle personal injury claims over a 12 month period.

By David Spereall
Sunday, 17th July 2022, 11:00 am

Figures obtained from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request showed the local authority paid out just under £1.6m worth of compensation between April 2021 and March 2022.

The payouts were handed to 152 separate claimants.

Nearly a third of the overall bill related to “slips, trips and falls”, according to the data the council provided.

A total of 38 people received payouts following incidents relating to vehicles, while a further 44 received compensation over what was termed “environmental issues”.

Almost half the overall bill, meanwhile, related to 11 separate claims that were all categorised as ‘other’, though the council would not provide any more specific details about those cases.

Personal injury lawyer Ian Morris said that, from his experience, trips over loose paving slabs and potholes was the biggest cause of claims against local councils across the country.

But he said that proving local authorities were liable for such incidents is getting harder.

Mr Morris, from the Bath-based firm Direct2Compensation, said: “Certainly a lot of disrepair on pavements has become more visible over the last 10 years or so, what with austerity, cutbacks or whatever you want to call it.

“But courts are much more minded to find in favour of local authorities these days, to the point where I know a lot of solicitors are reluctant to take a case on, because they don’t think they’ll get a favourable judgement.

“Ten years ago they probably would have done.”

Cases against councils over trips have to meet several criteria, with claimants having to demonstrate their local authority has failed to act after being made aware of a pothole.

Mr Morris, who has worked in personal injury for 23 years, said tracking down people who may have reported faulty road surfaces to the council can be difficult.

He added: “The majority don’t actually pursue a claim when perhaps they could.

“Many are reluctant to make a claim, but they end up doing so because they’ve been left struggling physically and with the NHS struggling, many are having to pay for private physio as part of their rehab.”

“A lot of them say that they’d rather the council just spends the compensation money on mending the pavements. That’s easy for us to say from here though, as we’re not sat there in control of the stringent budgets they’ve been given.”

In numbers

Total compensation paid out by Leeds City Council between April 2021 and March 2022 – £1,593,573.90

Number of claimants who received a payout – 152

Average payout per person – £10,484.03

Payouts for slips, trips and falls – £409,085.36 (60 people)

Payments for claims involving vehicles – £166,130.04 (38 people)

Payments relating to “environmental issues” – £236,472.40 (44 people)

Claims categorised as ‘other’ – £781,886.10 (11 people)

David Spereall, Local Democracy Reporting Service