Belfast Telegraph

Compensation for pavement trips is a real sore point

By Lindy McDowell

A couple of years ago I was walking down the Ormeau Road with an American friend, Buddy.

Stupidly for a moment I took my eyes off the uneven pavement to answer a phone call.

In that second I tripped and landed, with cartoon splat, full out on the pavement. Mortified does not even begin to cover it.

As he helped me to my feet, Buddy pointed with horror to the state of the pavement where we'd been walking.

I just wanted away from there as quickly and as discreetly as possible.

My hand was aching. Within minutes it had swollen up like a bap and for a couple of weeks I was convinced I'd broken a bone. My arms and knees were covered in bruises. Then it all mended up and that was the last thought I gave to it.

Until a few months later when I read an article outlining the total sums claimed in compensation for pavement falls. One report cited an average claim (and I don't want to put ideas in your head here) of £21,000. Twenty one grand! You could buy a flash new car with that and never have to walk the pavements again.

I felt like you would if your regular numbers came up on the lottery. But you hadn't done it that week.

Now MLA John Dallat (left) is again highlighting the massive sums paid out to pavement victims - £1.6m in two years. We could have built a hospital with that.

Mr Dallat blames lawyers for setting high rates of compensation - and claiming hefty fees.

Although we have to accept that real victims do deserve adequate compensation, the man does have a point, especially about the scale of legal fees.

As we all know in matters of money, lawyers are never the fall guys.

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