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Teachers' personal injury claim payouts

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14th May 2014

Last year, a teacher was awarded £459,000 following a personal injury claim which came about after they were left in a wheelchair as a result of an incident involving one of their pupils.

The Times Educational Supplement has revealed that a total of more than £20m was awarded in compensation to teachers, including this one who was attempting to restrain a nine-year-old pupil who had threatened other children with a ruler. The child pushed the teacher away and they suffered a spinal injury after hitting the handles of a nearby filing cabinet.

The supplement also indicates that a personal injury claim was made by a teacher who suffered breathing problems after being sprayed in the face by an aerosol and another who was diagnosed with a severe psychiatric injury after her employers didn't back her after she complained of abusive school governors. The pair were awarded £426,000 and £407,000, respectively.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) helped another teacher make a £200,000 personal injury claim after he fell down a stairwell after slipping on a grape, aggravating an existing hernia problem. The union remarked that "evidence showed that the school were aware of littering problems around the school but had not taken action to prevent or minimise it," adding that the money would cover loss of earnings and the man's pension.

Separate figures from the NASUWT were provided to the Press Association and they show that another teacher received £100,000 after suffering a back injury after she also slipped on food that had been spilt, this time in the school canteen.

In total, the NASUWT reports that it was responsible for £10.5m in personal injury claims last year, but the union's general secretary Chris Keates notes that "the level of compensation is no cause for celebration. What this figure illustrates is the cost to the public purse of employers' poor or discriminatory employment practices and failure to pay due regard to health and safety in the workplace."

Teachers could also make lung injury claims if it is found that these came about as a result of asbestos exposure in their school.

This comes after the landmark case we brought you in March, when a former pupil had her personal injury claim upheld at the Supreme Court after exposure as a child. The school had argued that the asbestos exposure was only slight, but the presiding judges decided that anyone who was exposed to low levels of the fibre and became ill as a result could make a personal injury claim.

Reported by Fiona Campbell.