A council paid out £52,000 in the past financial year as a result of two compensation claims involving members of the public who were injured after tripping on the public highway.

Redcar and Cleveland Council said a fall on a pavement was the cause of one successful claim (£21,000), while a pothole was the cause of the other (£31,000).

A report for councillors said both claims were received over five years ago, but settled in the 2022/23 period.

Another personal injury claim agreed in 2022/23 for £24,000 resulted from a council vehicle hitting a third-party vehicle which contained a driver and a passenger.

The Northern Echo: A pothole previously pictured in Guisborough Road, Eston. Picture/credit: Teesside Live. Free for

The council said settled claims – covered in three insurance categories, employers liability, public liability and motor – were paid from an internal insurance fund.

In total in 2022/23 £336,591 worth of claims were settled by the local authority, this compared to £411,997 in 2021/22 and £271,906 in 2020/21.

Across the board, the number of claims fell year-on-year – 189 being received in 2022/23, compared to 217 in 2021/22 with the biggest drop off coming in the motor claim category. 

The report by council managing director John Sampson for governance scrutiny committee members said council accident reporting processes had improved. 

It explained: “There is now a process in place to ensure that all accident damage that is reported by workshops has an administrative process to chase departments for forms to explain occurrences. 

“This has focused departments better making them more accountable.”

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Meanwhile, a large majority of claims (84%) in the employer and public liability category were settled without any payment being made due to a successful defence by the council’s claim handlers and solicitors.

The report said by providing a wide range of functions for the public, the council was exposed to many types of risk.

It said: “Active risk management coupled with a commitment to health and safety is proven to reduce the number of claims and subsequently the cost. 

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“This, in conjunction with effective claims handling, is the most effective way of reducing the cost of insurance.”

The report went on: “If claims are made against the council, these are passed through to our insurers to investigate and decide on liability, and they will then determine if the council is at fault for any potential damage or loss. 

“The council must be proven to be negligent to pay out on claims and these are all investigated thoroughly, as we are using public funds and must ensure that we settle only those claims where there is legitimate liability.”