A History of Bizarre Injury Claims

injury_formThe legal system that exists should not be blamed for the growing culture of compensation in Britain.  Personal injury solicitors talk of claims from as far back as the 1860s have been analysed by Insurer Aviva and a bizarre series of successful claims have been found.  These claims range from head injuries that were the result of encounters with boxes of bacon and blow to the eye caused by ammonia stoppers to bites by fish and ferrets and falls that occur because of croquet hoops.

Jonathan Djanogly, Justice Minister, recently described the act of paying referral fees for personal injury litigation as providing individuals with a “perverse incentive” for making frivolous or unjustified claims.  It is the hope of the government to limit interest in compensation claims and the plan is to do so by making claimants who utilize attorneys on the basis of a “no win, no fee” arrangement be responsible for their own legal costs.

However, the Aviva research has indicated that frivolous claims were being made before any legal fee-free deals.  A personal injury solicitor, Manchester uncovered examples of blatantly frivolous and entirely self-inflicted claims earning pay-outs that would be the equivalent of thousands of pounds if paid out today.

A history of bizarre personal injury claims in Britain includes:

  • In 1904, a Belfast travelling salesman sustained minor injury from hitting his head on a pole in his attempt to watch an accident on top of a tram.  He was paid £7, a modern equivalent of £401.
  • In 1878, a Lancashire grocer slipped while he was playing Blind Man’s Bluff.  He was paid £15, a modern equivalent of £724.
  • In 1892, an Essex merchant sustained an eye injury from tossing rice at a wedding.  He was paid £50, a modern equivalent of £2,994.
  • In 1886, a gale of wind blew down a Swansea artist.  He was paid £30, a modern equivalent of £1,796.
  • In 1900, a Great Yarmouth shipbuilder swallowed a fish bone.  He was paid £1,000, a modern equivalent of £57,000.
  • In 1878, a Handsworth, Birmingham innkeeper inadvertently ingested a poisonous potion instead of a sleeping medicine.  He was paid £1,000, a modern equivalent of £48,310.
  • In 1885, a Dublin pharmacist slipped on the steps of a Turkish bath.  He was paid £33, a modern equivalent of £1,594.

moneyMany current claims farmers that promote the “no win, no fee” policy target individuals who have had accidents in supermarkets, in fact there is a website that is called mysupermarketaccident.com.  However, even that is not a new development.  A bank clerk who slipped on an orange peel in 1900 was compensated £156, a modern equivalent of £8,901.

Interestingly, one of the longest-standing customers of the insurer never submitted a claim.  When he was 21 years old in 1896, Winston Churchill purchased a personal accident policy.  The policy remained active until he died in 1965 and he never requested a single penny as compensation.

About the author: Robert Park is a director of Sedgwick Legal, the personal injury solicitors Manchester, who have been providing first class legal advice and support for almost 50 years, still acting for clients who first enlisted their help all those years ago. Robert is well respected within the legal industry and also enjoys blogging, football and has an interest in history.