The insurance business is usually deemed to be a world of boring figures and facts – an arena that’s totally devoid of the amusing and the unusual. However, when you check out some of the bizarre accident claims that have been filed over the years it’s a different story. Some are shocking, some are surprising and some are just downright stupid, but they all serve to add a splash of colour to the grey landscape that is the insurance industry.
Believe it or not, personal injury claims following accidents sustained whilst playing dangerous sports are not modern phenomena. There are cases going back as far as 1878 when a Lancashire greengrocer slipped and fell while playing Blind Man’s Bluff with friends. His compensation amounted to £15 which seems pretty meagre until you realize it’s £700 in today’s terms.
One unusual motor accident compensation claim in 2010 involved a lady whose family car hit a deer that ran into the road. The woman’s injury claim was denied by her insurance company who labelled the incident an “act of God”. Not to be deterred, the woman sued her husband who was driving – he joined in, admitting that at the time of the accident he was driving on cruise control while sipping coffee and listening to music.
Then there is the London Beer Flood of 1814. On 17th October a brewery on Tottenham Court Road suffered a disaster when vats containing more than 600,000 litres of beer ruptured in a domino effect style leading to a river of beer exploding out of the building and onto the streets of London. Two local homes were destroyed and a local pub badly damaged. One person was crushed by rubble and several others drowned in the beer. The Meux & Company Brewery was taken to court but this incident was ruled an “act of God” by Judge and jury, and no compensation was ever payed. This is a far cry from what would happen today, when organizations are regularly expected to compensate for injuries that they are responsible for.
A holiday themed insurance claim came from a Mr Fairclough who was struck by a flying Christmas tree! The unfortunate gentleman was driving home from a Christmas shopping trip when a car coming from the opposite direction let loose the Christmas tree which had been inadequately tied to the roof rack. The tree dented the bonnet of Mr. Fairclough’s car and the flying foliage caused his car to crash into a hedge. The other driver drove off without swapping insurance details (and without his Christmas tree).
And it’s not just trees that soar through the air, inflicting damage on cars and motorists. Two gents driving home from the pub one evening were shocked and surprised when a sheep landed on the bonnet of their car. They were driving underneath a by-pass on which a lorry had overturned and spilled its load of sheep. The miscreant sheep in question had panicked and jumped over the parapet, landing on the car below.
Not to be outdone, bike riders are also getting in on the act when it comes to unusual accidents. A young woman riding along Brighton seafront behind her boyfriend was stunned when a group of nuns jumped out in front of her, surrounded her and started jeering. The boyfriend cycled on, unaware of the assault taking place on his sweetheart. The nuns then lifted the bicycle (with its rider still on it) high into the air and started running off. One of the nuns tripped and the whole cavalcade collapsed in a heap, leaving the young lady with a cracked cheek bone and a broken ankle. Needless to say, the “nuns” turned out to be a group of high spirited young men out on a stag night and rather the worse for wear.
Another bike accident didn’t even happen on the roads. One poor woman was injured on a static exercise bike in the gym when the pedal broke. This proves that it’s not just driving on the roads that can be dangerous, getting fit has its risks too.
Embarrassment added to the injury can only make things worse. Take the case of a client visiting his solicitor. He sat down on a chair, failing to notice a large pair of scissors and punctured one of his buttocks, leaving a 3cm scar. The client made an accident claim against the company and the case was eventually settled with compensation of more than £2 million – not exactly the bum’s rush.