Why do personal injury claims take so long sometimes?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 24 Feb 2015:

If there’s one thing that always makes people wonder, it’s how sometimes personal injury claims can take literally decades to resolve themselves.

In fact, if you were to look at the news this week you’d surely leave scratching your head, as one of the most prominent stories in the press was how 24 year old Annie Woodland, a woman who had suffered life-changing injuries in a near-drowning when she was 10 years old, had to wait nearly a decade and a half to receive her personal injury compensation award. That’s an incredible delay by any stretch of the imagination; sure, the wheels of justice might grind slowly, but 14 years? That seems a bit much if you ask me.

Or if you ask anyone, really. Even personal injury solicitors will wince and say that such a long turnaround is rather unpleasantly rare. So what caused the long delay? Well, the secret is, of course, in determining who was going to pay Woodland’s £3 million compensation award. The woman had been on a school trip to Basildon’s Gloucester Park Pool at the time of the injury, but she and the rest of the pupils were under the supervision of both a contracted swim instructor and a lifeguard for the facility; there was a conflict between whether Essex Council should be paying for her injuries or if the contractor should be.

Essex Council fought long and hard against paying the bill, stating that if they acquiesced it would mean that it could find itself liable for any number of accidents and injuries that occur on school trips even when pupils were being supervised by non-council employees and staff. The council went on to say that it would likely have to encourage fewer trips to be taken by schoolchildren as a result, something it called a ‘chilling’ effect that would negatively impact the education of children within the local authority’s reach. Meanwhile I think it just came down to not wanting to shell out that kind of cash, despite all the pain and suffering that Woodland has gone through since she nearly drowned.

So on the one hand I can kind of understand Essex Council’s position – but on the other hand, making this injured woman wait 14 years on a procedural issue? Kind of makes my stomach turn.

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