A decline in injury claims for school accidents has been attributed to new regulations making it harder for teachers and lecturers to claim compensation.
According to figures released by the Educational Institute of Scotland, just over £180,000 was paid during the 2013/14 years to settle injury claims for school accidents – a fall of almost 50 percent on figures from the previous twelve months.
The settlements included £50,000 compensation for a school employee who suffered a head injury when they slipped and fell on an icy playground, and £25,000 compensation for a teacher who suffered a broken ankle due to tripping and falling on school premises.
Changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act have made it harder for teachers and lecturers to make injury claims for school accidents, who now have to prove that their employer was negligent even when the employer has been convicted of a breach of safety regulations by the Health and Safety Executive.
The General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland – Larry Flanagan – also believes that injury claims for school accidents are being hindered by insurance companies representing the local authorities. He commented that if insurance companies acknowledged their policyholders´ liability sooner, they would save on unnecessary legal fees and medical costs.
Mr Flanagan also added that injury claims for school accidents would decline further if schools were to implement basic and inexpensive safety requirements, but Douglas Chapman – the education spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities – denied that educational centres were lacking in safety precautions. He said:
“It is important to emphasise that teaching is a very safe profession, and local authorities take extremely serious the safety and well-being of all staff and pupils. There are over 50,000 teachers and over 700,000 pupils in school and pre-school so accidents or incidents will occasionally take place. Serious incidents are rare but parents and teachers should be assured that authorities and schools have in place policies to deal with situations that may arise.”