Senior councillor hits out at Britain's 'claim culture'
A SENIOR city councillor has hit out at what he calls "spurious" claim culture after revealing the local authority paid out £611,816 in compensation to those injured on Hull's streets last year.
Councillor Martin Mancey says the amount the highways department paid out in 2012/13 – a 60 per cent increase on the previous financial year – could have been spent on improving the city's pothole-riddled roads.
In 2011/12, the department paid out £381,295 in compensation claims.
Cllr Mancey, the portfolio holder for transport and the man in the firing line for the condition of Hull's roads, said: "We live in a claim culture – and we seem to be going down the same path as America.
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"I would put these so-called 'no win, no fee' law firms in the same immoral category as payday loan companies.
"We are paying out £400,000, £500,000, £600,000-plus in claims each year – that's money we cannot spend on repairing roads."
Cllr Mancey says he believes law firms now actively encourage those involved in accidents to claim for compensation.
"I have personal experience of this," he said. "I was involved in a minor road traffic accident and somehow a personal injury law firm found out about it and contacted me.
"The company attempted to persuade me to make a claim, which of course, I didn't.
"Clearly, there are genuine cases, where people have become incapacitated as a result of a serious accident. But there are, in my opinion, an awful lot of spurious claims.
"People really need to take some responsibility for their own actions. Occasionally, accidents happen, but often it seems someone has to be blamed."
Cllr Mancey said the pay-outs may not correlate with when accidents happened, due to lengthy legal processes.
"In order to protect taxpayers' funds, investigations are made before claims are settled," he said. "In some cases, this can take some time."
Cllr Mancey last week admitted there is a £50m backlog of repairs, leaving some roads in the worst condition he has ever seen them in.
But he says the highways department would need another £5m a year to even begin to restore the roads to a condition he believes motorists have the right to expect.