Number of Covid PI claims remains low “but potential for many more”

Caswell: RIDDOR reports show the potential scale

The number of personal injury claims relating to Covid-19 continues to be very low, despite the significant rise in infections over the winter, new figures have shown.

At the same time, there have been thousands of reports made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about people contracting Covid as a result of their work.

Only 57 cases have been registered with the Department of Work and Pensions’ Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) as of 16 March, almost two-thirds of which relate to employers’ liability (EL).

The figures were obtained by leading defendant firm BLM, which last year warned that Covid-related claims “appear to be gathering some momentum” amid a significant increase in claims farming activity.

Analysing what the cases to date showed, BLM said case numbers were almost split equally between male and female claimants with 50-59 years old the group that appeared the most, although “there is a developing number of claims in the 80-89 bracket”.

Writing on the BLM website, partner and head of claims solutions David Caswell said “the predominance of EL claims could, we suggest, be attributed to the health and social care settings”.

These account for almost 61% of Covid-related reports made to the HSE under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013), with 19,726 reported instances since April 2020, 271 of which were fatalities.

Such reports are required to be made where a worker has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence to suggest that it was caused by occupational exposure, under the RIDDOR.

“There is some cautious over-reporting in the RIDDOR numbers,” Mr Caswell explained. “The HSE has stated that the strength of evidence in reports appears variable, some reports just noting the potential for work-related exposure to have occurred.

“Nevertheless, the reports show the potential scale of the issue.”

“By comparison, the numbers of EL claims reported to the CRU to date are almost vanishingly small and the very low claim numbers probably reflect the significant hurdles to be overcome in terms of investigation and evidence, in particular of liability and of causation.

“These are only claims presented to a compensator, who has reported the claim to the CRU and therefore there will no doubt be a volume of claims waiting to be presented.”

He added that claims farming activity “continues to focus upon Covid-19 and we can expect these numbers to grow”.

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