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Ireland Universities hit with 250 claims over seven years

11:00  19 january  2020
11:00  19 january  2020 Source:   independent.ie

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a castle with a clock tower in the middle of a park: University College Cork was hit with claims totalling nearly €1m in the last seven years © University College Cork. University College Cork was hit with claims totalling nearly €1m in the last seven years

Compensation claims for horseplay at Trinity College were among more than 250 cases levelled at four leading Irish universities in the last seven years. University College Cork was hit with claims totalling nearly €1m in the last seven years.  In figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Munster college was sued 68 times between 2013 and 2019 - and settled 40 cases which made up nearly six out of 10 cases.

The costliest year for the Cork college was in 2013 with 18 compensation claims - 15 were settled by the insurer for a bill of just over €640,000. But the UCC insurer's bill last year for two settled claims came to just over €3,000. The figures have been released as businesses across the country have been hit with soaring insurance policies, which is being blamed on the compensation culture in Ireland.

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The Personal Injuries Assessment Board revealed there were just over 33,000 applications for compensation in 2018. Over the last seven years, the University College Cork's insurer paid out €940,138 relating to legal actions for compensation claims. The college said the six-figure sum paid by the insurer for various claims was inclusive of legal fees.

It added: "Certain claims may not exclusively relate to damages for injuries and may include, for example, claims for damage to property." Documents released by UCD gave a breakdown of the 57 personal injury claims received by the college from January 1, 2013 to December 1, 2019 in the form of a solicitor's letter or Injuries Board notification. 

There were 26 claims relating to slips, trips or falls which made up just under half of all claims. Building site accidents accounted for six claims, manual handling injuries accounted for five claims, while there were four claims which were classed as psychological. Other categories included maintenance work accidents, sports injury, equipment injury and there were three claims relating to road traffic or bicycle accidents in UCD over the last decade.

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The Dublin college clarified that for some of the claims there are other defendants in addition to UCD, while in some cases a full indemnity was sought and received by UCD from a third party whom UCD considered liable for the claim. Meanwhile, Trinity College received 57 claims in the seven-year period from 2013 to 2018. More than half of the claims, or 32 of them, related to slips, trips or falls.

Trinity College was sued for compensation during one case of "horseplay misadventure" under public liability. There were also several claims relating to defective equipment. In Trinity College Dublin, the Freedom of Information documents revealed that the claims were split almost evenly between 27 public liability claims and 30 employers' liability claims.

Director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, Peter Boland, said Ireland has much higher levels of compensation than other European countries for minor injuries. "People fall over all over the world, but what seems to be unique about Ireland in the last number of years is firstly the number of them that sue as a result and, secondly, the enormous amounts of money they are rewarded as a result of their misfortune."

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