A Compensation Culture

It is easy to be outraged by these stories, drunken mess games going bad and injuries sustained from drill but I wonder if there is more to it that might meet the eye?

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2512412/Female-RAF-recruits-100-000-compensation–march-like-men.html”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2576037/1-million-payout-drunken-sailor-hurt-double-award-maimed-hero-Ben-Parkinson.html”]

Are these one off payments compared to the long term support PLUS compensation payment for battlefield injuries?

Lifelong care versus one off compensation perhaps.

The story of the RN sailor seems particularly difficult to fathom when there was seemingly some negligence on her part, not sure where the MoD has a duty of care.

I do look at these and admit to being bemused, what is next, a risk assessment and competent person training for a game of mess rugby?


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March 16, 2014 9:57 am

Around the time that Ben Parkinson was wounded, there was also a civil service typist working in an RAF HQ who got something like double his compensation for RSI of her thumb while typing.

Clearly ridiculous, and I recall being told that war injury payments were deliberately held down in value as there were expected to be so many more of them than “routine” civil compensation claims. Thanks, Sir Humphrey.

The Political Advisor (POLAD) to the British Divisional HQ in Bosnia in the mid 90s got £250 a day “danger money”. He told me it was a one off payment demanded by the Civil Service First Division Association, as service in Bosnia was beyond what was expected. I think he left the Div HQ about 3 times in 6 months.

March 16, 2014 10:30 am

Personally I hate the compensation culture. Started in the States I heard by a law suit against the manufacturer of refrigerators – the story I heard went like this:

A woman, having had a huge fridge installed in her shiny new 1950s kitchen found she could no longer reach the cupboard above. Opening the substantial door, she noted the sturdy steel shelves on it. A ladder, she thought. She climbed up the door and reached over to the cupboard to get stuff out; when pushing & pulling on stuff the door swung away and she fell to the hard kitchen floor cracking her pelvis. She sued the fridge manufacturer for not making it clear the door was not to be used as a ladder.

Up to this point its a story of dumb choices and undeserved blame. The point it turned idiotic was when the case went to court and the slimy lawyers won the case for compensation. Any normal person using common sense would have rejected such a claim of culpability immediately, no matter how much sympathy they might have for the woman’s injury. I suspect however the lawyers got the scent of a huge unending gravy-train, so used their best convoluted erudite arguments to set enough precedence to make them all very wealthy chasing any blame case they could rake up.

I am waiting for HMG to put a law on the statute called the “Its Your Own Bloody Stupid Fault Law” which mandates that every individual must take reasonable personal care not to damage themselves – it could be part of a Bill of Responsibilities to replace current Rights legislation. I think unfortunately an outbreak of common sense is beyond the capability of Parliament.

I’ll stop ranting now.

Rocket Banana
March 16, 2014 11:19 am

“Its Your Own Bloody Stupid Fault Law”

I promise to vote “yes” should I ever be asked. I’m sick of the blame-game and health-and-safety gone mad.

March 16, 2014 12:33 pm

AS an ex HSE prosecutor I can tell you that peopel are dum. Really Dum. anyne employng peopl shoud know that and should not put people at risk. after all ‘ your own stupid fault’ is only that if you have a real choice. I suggest that ‘It was the own stupid fault of all thos soldiers that died in snatch landrovers. No one made them join up. They could have refused the orders Commissioned officers could and did resign commisions over them….

The problem is that unless people in power are held to account then realy evil things happen to those under them.

The system is far from perfect, but I counsel against ‘ I heard a story once..’ Style anacdotalism.

A lot of these stories are pushed out by the insurance industry to scare people. A lot don’t stand up to cloase scrutiny.

e,g once heard an insurance executive giveing an after dinner speach tell the story of ‘ the ford Palamino’ and how it was outraeous that Ford had been sued by peoples relatives after they had been killed in fireball explosions after rear end accidents.

He was actually giving a partial and largely incorrect acciount of the Frod Pinto scandal.

Ford accepted the car in essence exploded if another vehicle looked at it in a funny way, (I exagerate to make a point). There had been high level meeings at Ford which decided it was cheaper to fight damages actions and keep frying a self sellecting chunk of the US population that re design a car that company papers disclosed executive would allow a famly meber to drive.

Lets be celar abot this if relatives of soldiers killed in snatch were not suing there would be no foxhound.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 16, 2014 1:33 pm

– Have you developed late-onset dyslexia, or just got yourself a lovely new electronic device with a tiny keyboard wholly unfitted to gentlemen of a certain age typing at speed? :-)

March 16, 2014 3:00 pm

Ixion – clearly there are situations where the individual is not fully the controller of their own course of action – in your case of soldiers in light armoured LandRovers these vehicles were not selected by their occupants, they were provided by the employer and the soldiers ordered to use them. Had the soldiers taken the vehicle and cut large holes in the side to lean out & shoot, and fixed a swivel-chair to the roof for one of the soldiers to use as a surrogate machine-gun turret using his own personal weapon, then we’d be in the realms of their own fault if things went wrong.

This from Wiki: In January 2014, Sirgiorgio Sanford Clardy, who is serving a 100-year prison sentence for a beating of a prostitute and her customer, has filed “a $100 million lawsuit against Nike”, for which Clardy claims the shoe manufacturer is partially responsible. Clardy says that “Nike should have placed a label in his Jordan shoes warning consumers that they could be used as a dangerous weapon. He was wearing a pair when he repeatedly stomped the face of a john who was trying to leave a Portland hotel without paying Clardy’s prostitute in June 2012.”

Also from Wiki: Cleanthi Peters sued the Universal Studios theme park in Florida for the mental distress and emotional counselling she underwent as a result of visiting the “Halloween Horror Nights” attraction. She claimed that it was too scary.

And this too: A man sued the Budweiser Beer Company for emotional stress and psychological damages he said were caused by an advertising campaign that they had run. The adverts suggested that drinking Budweiser caused beautiful women in bikinis to appear. The man asked for $10,000 for the damages caused by the “misleading” advert and another $10,000 because he went to purchase more and more beer to continue trying to get the girls to appear.

There has to be a line between personal responsibility and product/environment liability. As it stands in my opinion the threshold is far from a sensible rational median, such that honest and honourable providers are held accountable for inexplicable irresponsibility of consumers, to the point that being extremely stupid with inappropriate products is rewarded.

So I’m just off now to take a bath with my mains-powered PC on the grounds that cleaning the hard drive is supposed to be a good thing and there isn’t a big label on the front warning against use of the PC in the bath. Kerchinnggg!

March 16, 2014 3:57 pm

These kinds of stories really make my blood boil. The compensation of 100k for the girls in the RAF is beyond absurd.

The fact of the matter is no one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE could ever be under any illsuion as to the fact the Armed Forces march around, carry heavy kit and go to war. It’s in the job description really. So as such this stupid claim (and many others like it) should have been thrown out straight away.

People need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions, we are breeding a culture of blame amongst the young, cases like the ones above have people believing that no matter how stupid they are someone else is to blame. Its disgusting.

I believe in Darwinism, survival of the fittest. If these kinds of people were born in the stone age they have been munched on by a sabre toothed tiger within a week of leaving the cave. Good riddance too, don’t want their idiocy being bred into future generations.


Rant over. Sorry.

March 16, 2014 4:42 pm

I’m middle of the road on this one, I agree with IXION but also sometimes you have to wonder, by the way has anyone seen the film ‘Idiocracy’?

March 16, 2014 4:49 pm

@bigdave243: I’m in the middle with this one. I agree they were being bloody stupid asking for the same pace length, it’s just not practical to drill that way, although I’m very against changing BFT and CFT targets. Us short legs can march faster :-)

I think the 3k they got to begin with was fine. The 100k is a fucking outrage, and they should appeal PDQ, finding the costs against the litigant.

Rocket Banana
March 16, 2014 4:55 pm

“Lets be clear about this if relatives of soldiers killed in snatch were not suing there would be no foxhound.”

I do agree with IXION in principle. However, there are other ways to address the problem. Lawyers, legalese and compensation is NOT the only way. It is not fair and it is certainly not just.

Foxhound would have come about immediately after any chap giving “the order” to go in with snatch had to do so himself first (or at the same time). It is the negligent delegation of risk that should be prosecuted ,especially in circumstances where the individual cannot simply say “no”. Prosecution of such should not require a lawsuit. It should be dictated by, in this case, OFMoD* or the delegator’s superior.

* OFMoD is required to tackle the age-old problem of “idiots in charge”.

March 16, 2014 6:14 pm

As an aside, and totally coincidental, this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xzx62 is Murray Walker on this morning’s Desert Island Discs; if you move forward to the 36 minute mark he too offers a plea for people to be able to take risks when they want (as long as they don’t put others at risk).

I am a responsible individual. I take responsibility for what I do; I accept some of my actions or decisions will not go well but that’s no-one’s fault but mine. On the flip-side, when things go well I can with a clear conscience feel pretty satisfied with my efforts. The modern way though it would appear is for everyone vaguely connected to successful endeavours to claim personal glory for their key uniquely valuable input ‘that made it happen’ while pointing at everyone else to take the blame when a project turns sour. Investment bankers, anyone? I don’t like this selfish attitude. Not one bit.

I have no desire to be bored stiff wrapped in cotton-wool and bubblewrap in a state of perpetual dull safety. Life is risky. In the end the Reaper will call on all of us, but in the mean time taking risks opens up possibilities for great experiences and fantastic opportunities. Why should faceless busybodies deny people getting the most out of life?

Just asking, like…

March 16, 2014 6:34 pm

no great surprise on raf one. been on going for years. most of the compension will not be for the actually injury which was minor. its for the treatment afterwards. this could all have been headed off at the pass years ago at far less hassle and cost, but why do that when we can spend ages and lots of money instead eh?

March 16, 2014 7:29 pm

Not new device just old glasses.

I actually am with those who think we should be allowed to take more risks and kids in particular should do more outward bond stuff a lot more often. And yes that means there will be fatal accidents.

What concerns me in the military and work field, is that decisions are made on cost and not rocking the boat basis. With out regard to health or safety of the soldier or worker who has no real economic choice but to go along with it.

Making short women with different pelvic angles march with much taller men is bound to cause problems if done constantly. Supposedly expert drill instructors should know that…

By the way hundreds of stupid cases launched every year by nutters. Don’t mean they succeed…….

Most, like the woman who recently sued her solicitors for not telling her that her divorce action would end her marriage, get told to sod off and don’t be so stupid.

March 17, 2014 8:40 am

There is an important distinction here between compensation for negligence by MOD and the “no fault” compensation awarded under AFCS or similar by the MOD (which is what Bdr Parkinson received)

If the MOD doesn’t want to pay out for claims arising from its negligence in adhering to the appropriate laws etc then it should instruct its legal beagles to fight the claims. In my (direct ) experience the MOD seems very keen to accept liability or make an out of court settlements in cases where a robust defence might achieve what seems a more reasonable result. And of course once one spurious claim is seen to succeed then many others follow

March 17, 2014 9:22 am

personally i’d prefer it uf we followed the rules we are told we have to follow rather than fight any claims. how many pregnant women got compo and we then spent a fortune in legal costs and got bad newspaper headlines before we figured out we couldn’t sack pregnant women?

March 17, 2014 4:58 pm

I have to say I agree with quite a few of the commetators…..how many of these cases could have been solved quickly and cheaply with a little bit of thought.

There was a similar case in the Press recently about two female Police Officers who repeatedly asked for minor mods to their firearms when it became clear that their low scores were putting their jobs at risk. Rather than be sensible and make the fairly cheap mods, the employing Police Service refused. Naturally this led to a court case where the employer was duly caned (presumably for being such a fool) and the costs were huge…….

….and far outweighed the costs of actually making the tiny modifications to the weapons as the ladies had requested.


I know it’s the Daily Mail but is it any wonder the ET went apes**t when it became clear that the officers employers were asked frequently to adjust kit.

I suspect the professionals on this site would be outraged if it was their daughter or wife saying to their employer, “Look make a tiny change to the weapon and it’ll be great……I’ll be able to do my job and score well….” and the employer of their daughter or wife (or even son for that matter) simply ignored sensible requests.