I have written before that with the advent of no win no fee solicitors we have developed a society where it is almost inevitable that after an accident involving injury a claim for compensation will follow regardless of blame.
Assuming that this does not apply to ringing would be extremely naïve. I am prompted to write this reminder by a local incident within the last few days. Ringing was taking place and following some stay bumping the bell went over and injury was caused to the visiting ringer. Fortunately no broken bones but it did involve a stay in hospital overnight. Within 36 hours the tower captain had received a call advising him that a claim for injury would be made.
It is well known that emergency service or hospital staff have had links with ‘Ambulance Chasing’ Solicitors and I assume given the speed of contact that is what may have happened here. If solicitors were not then involved the compensation culture tends to influence behaviours anyway. There is big money to be made by solicitors from no win no fee cases and significant commissions to acquire ‘hot leads’ can be paid. A case last year where someone was hurt in a teaching situation involved over £30,000 total costs – the value of the claim was 15% of that!
So whilst litigation is a fact of life today, it should not stop us from doing anything. A few things to remember though:
- If an accident occurs make sure it is recorded in the church accident book.
- If an ART Member is teaching, or supervising or running a practice when it occurs complete the accident notification form on SmART Ringer.
- Record the facts and take photos. Notify Insurers and do not discuss responsibility with anyone.
- For injuries, claimants have 3 years to claim – so report things immediately whist recollections are good.
- Record who was present and get contact details for witnesses.
- Do read again the ART Code of Practice for Safety and Protection – it’s on the ART website.
- PCCs (who are ultimately responsible) can overreact to such situations so to avoid that make sure you have your risk assessments in place and are seen to be safety conscious and supervising ringing correctly at all times so the PCC are confident with what you are doing. It’s too late after the event! When something happens work closely with them to advise and assist to prevent any overreaction.
We may live in a litigious society – we can’t change that – but we must work with it to ensure we have a safe environment and proper procedures and supervision in place to look after everyone in the tower. Yes it’s another task for the Tower Captain – as is dealing with the issues that follow an accident – but it’s part of our society so an immediate emotional response is not appropriate, except to have sympathy with the injured person.