Although we hear a lot about the personal injury compensation culture in the UK these days, the trend for lodging bizarre insurance claims is not new.
Documents recently unearthed in Aviva’s archives in Norwich paint a fascinating picture of the type of claims personal injury solicitors might have dealt with in Victorian times.
Among the East Anglian personal injury claims is one from an Essex merchant who received £50 after his eye was injured by rice thrown at a marriage ceremony in 1892. Another claim, this time from 1887, involved a Sudbury farmer who was bitten by a rat and received £132 in compensation.
Anna Stone, an Aviva archivist, has spent months going over old insurance documents for an exhibition at the Norwich headquarters of the company. She said sport related injuries were commonplace in those days and cited examples of golfers claiming to have ruptured their legs when getting out of bunkers and blows from hockey sticks as not unusual.
She also picked out a couple of her favourite peculiar claims, one of which involved a vicar who fell down whilst playing leap frog and another involving a man who attempted to kick his dog but missed and kicked the sofa instead, causing injury to his big toe.
Another claim, this time from Handsworth in Birmingham, involved an innkeeper who mistakenly swallowed poisonous medicine instead of a sleeping draught. He survived and was awarded £1,000 personal injury compensation.
Pavements appear to have been just as dangerous then as they are now, the archives revealed. Personal injury claims were discovered for slips on cobbled streets, trips on kerbs and falls on ice. However, the traditional banana skin only appeared once in the archives.