The Old Grumpies: Blame game drives us mad - can we claim?


At our recent meeting one member said that at most of the meetings he attends, he could claim expenses for travel, for time off and usually gets a meal.

He was quickly told that he should get a free bus pass and use it, and if he complained again then he wouldn’t even get a biscuit next time.

Though we realised that for once he might have been joking it did trigger a discussion on whether we have become a complain, claim or blame society.

When we are encouraged to blame all and sundry for any trivial inconvenience we might have suffered and given the impression that it wouldn’t cost anything if we made a claim, some of us can be easily seduced.

Enter into the discussion our legal experts who point out that there are many deserving cases and the trivial ones should not devalue their importance. Then they spoilt it by using long words such as foreseeability and malfeasance, so no doubt we’ll be getting a bill for that.

When we were young and we tripped over something we would have been told “don’t be so gormless”, but recently someone was awarded over £3,000 when he tripped getting into an ambulance and bruised his toe.

Did the judge find some European directive or health and safety regulation that influenced his decision? We would have said, “we suggest you lift your leg a bit higher next time”. To the policewoman who was investigating a reported crime late at night and fell over a step she claimed shouldn’t have been there, we would have said “buy yourself a torch”.

Once these decisions are established the trouble is that the bandwagon becomes very crowded and when numerous claims of whiplash injuries are allowed then the bus becomes very crowded!

That happened recently when a large number of men with prior knowledge that a bus was going to deliberately crash, boarded it. One innocent girl on board said that she couldn’t understand why just after the accident all these men were banging their heads on the bus windows. Quite rightly, most of them were sent to prison.

But how many have got away with it in the past and we are paying for it with increased insurance charges? And what is happening when offenders are sent to prison? They complain that their porridge is too cold, or they can’t get a good signal on their radios. And even if they’ve never voted before they complain that it’s their right to be able to. Poor things.

Stories of bizarre claims were suddenly coming to members’ minds. A burglar fell through the roof of some premises where he had no right to be but was awarded half a million pounds for the injuries he received. We all agreed - poor decision, silly judge.

In some ways the most alarming developments have been in the “mental anguish” department. Case Law has not helped when it states that the claimant has only to state that they have been insulted and they have been. Where’s the proof?

And what about sexist comments? Well, we know that most of our members have been subjected to them.

We are continually reminded of our faults by members of the opposite sex, accused of suffering from man flu and that our failed searches for anything is described as a “man’s look”. We are frequently asked, ”are you going out dressed like that for a bet?” We don’t complain but try not to let our mental anguish affect our lives and just carry on bravely. We don’t seek damages but we know that if we did we would get them in some form.

A new development however, means that if you are the sort of person who does, you will soon be able to make a claim against the people who handle your claim by reporting them to the Claims Management Regulation Unit Monitoring and Compliance Office.

Members on this Quango can claim travelling expenses, allowance for time off and get a free lunch. At the moment they are advertising for suitable people to join.

We’ve already sent in our nomination.