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Two Devon councils have paid out about £2.5m over four years to compensate people for personal injury after incidents such as tripping on pavements.

Plymouth City Council paid out about £2.1m and Torbay Council £400,000 between 2010 and 2013, replies to a BBC freedom of information request showed.

The highest single payout for either unitary council was £105,000.

Devon County Council refused to respond to the information request.

Harbour fall

In Plymouth, the total paid out ranged from £638,000 for 79 claims in 2011 to £301,000 for 68 claims in 2012.

Plymouth’s largest payout was in 2010, compensating someone £105,000 for a back injury sustained as a result of a “footway surface defect”.

The council said it only paid out if it was liable and that only three out of 10 claims were successful.

In Torbay, payout totals ranged from £83,000 in 2010 for 21 claims, to about £118,000 for 15 claims in 2011.

‘Compensation culture myth’

Torbay Council said one of its highest payouts was £37,000 to someone who fell into a harbour in Torbay in 2011, injuring their back and neck

James Browne, from Stones Solicitors in Exeter, said: “If a local authority has behaved reasonably and can show it then the injured person will not get a payout.

“I think it’s a myth that there is a compensation culture. I haven’t noticed any huge increase in the number of claims coming through.”

Devon County Council said it did not respond to the request because collating the information would take up too much of its officers’ time.

Cornwall Council paid out about £800,000, and Dorset County Council £133,000 between 2010 and 2013.

The Local Government Association said it could not comment on the figures because it did not collect statistics.


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