What Are The Biggest Public Liability Payouts?
Compensation Claims are Becoming Increasingly Common – and Costly
While the USA remains the lawsuit capital of the world, the litigation culture is becoming increasingly common worldwide. And the amounts claimed get ever higher.
From no-win no fee lawyers advertising on billboards to Judge Judy attracting a Hollywood salary, we all know that a good lawsuit has become part of the American Dream. But anybody who thinks this is a purely American phenomenon should think again. Compensation claims are getting more and more common all around the world, and any business that fails to prepare by taking out public liability insurance is playing an ever more dangerous game.
The range of potential incidents is vast, as is the variation in the laws surrounding compensation around the world. One thing that is common the world over is the old tag line “where there’s blame, there’s a claim.” Here we look at some of the largest compensation cases that have made the headlines from all around the world. And while claims for accidents in the workplace are still increasing, despite improved health and safety training, it is public liability claims resulting from accidents that see some of the biggest pay-outs. Let’s take a look at the biggest to date.
In 2012, 17-year-old Agnes Collier was awarded £23 million in compensation for injuries she sustained in a car crash during 2009. This was and still is the highest personal injury pay-out in English legal history.
Her mother was killed in the crash, and Miss Collier herself sustained severe spinal injuries “at the very highest level of severity” that left her with no use of her legs and little function in her arms.
The accident happened in November 2009, when Miss Collier was just 14. The vehicle her mother was driving was struck by an oncoming lorry when she swerved to avoid a vehicle driven by Anthony Norton, who was pulling out of a side road.
The damages were awarded against Mr Norton’s insurers after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
Milly Evans was born in Lincoln Hospital in March 2001. She suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition that could have been avoided through proper monitoring of her heart rate at the time of her birth.
Miss Evans is confined to a wheelchair and is unable to speak. However, her intellect was undiminished and she is able to communicate using sophisticated eye-gaze equipment.
Lincolnshire NHS trust admitted liability and in 2012, London’s High Court awarded compensation worth £10.8M
Joseph O’ Reggio
In a similar case, Joseph O’ Reggio was awarded £6 million in compensation for brain damage he sustained as a result of medical negligence at the time of his birth. Like Milly, he is now afflicted with cerebral palsy.
Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has not admitted liability, but has acknowledged that Joseph should have been delivered an hour earlier, and has agreed to the pay-out after a ten-year court battle.
Moving to Australia, the case of Zachary Quinn is one of the biggest negligence payouts in Australian history. The 7-year-old’s family was awarded more than AU$9 million (£5.3 million) in damages because of complications arising out of his birth. Hospital staff performed only a cursory examination after Zachary’s mother complained that there was no foetal movement inside her womb. As a result of this negligence, Zachary was born with severe learning difficulties and cerebral palsy.
Finally, the horrific case of Robbie Williams, an eight-year-old boy from Texas, who was doused in petrol and set alight by 13-year-old Don Wilburn Collins in 1998. The boy suffered massive burns and eventually died of skin cancer 13 years later.
In the largest payout ever, a judge in Texas ordered Collins to pay $150 billion (£118 billion) to Robbie’s family, a sum close in value to the entire economy of Peru.