As the London Olympics draws to a close it is interesting to think about how our forefathers lived at the time of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896: what personal injuries they suffered and what claims they made.
Cars had just been invented, but few people could afford them, so there would have been very few car accidents. By interesting coincidence, the first fatal car accident is believed to have occurred in the same year as the first modern Olympics. The unfortunate victim was Bridget Driscoll who, on 17 August 1896, was struck down by a car giving demonstration rides in the grounds of the Crystal Palace in south London. Her death was subject to an inquest, during which the coroner stated that he “hoped such a thing would never happen again”.
Whilst the number of car accident injuries were of a lesser order than they are today, roads appeared to be just as dangerous. Research carried out by Aviva shows that entries such as “Solicitor, Weston Super Mare, thrown from carriage” were frequent in the records of its accident subsidiaries.
Personal accident insurance in this period covered not just negligence of third parties but also compensated for the insured’s own lack of forethought. Aviva’s sports-related entries may well provide a cautionary note to those of us inspired to take up Olympic sports now that the Games are done.
· Maltster, Warwick, struck eye with own whip when riding - £156 (Railway Passengers, 1881)
· Farmer, Bardon, companion’s gun went off - shot in both legs - £105 (Railway Passengers, 1881)
· Coachbuilder, Blackburn, fall over football - £30 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
At lawn tennis
· Clergyman, York, fall over a dog while playing lawn tennis - £13 10s (Railway Passengers, 1878)
Other assorted sports
· Stationer, Chorlton, fall over croquet hoop - £33 (Railway Passengers, 1870)
· Vicar, Salop, fall when playing leap frog - £120 (Railway Passengers, 1875)
· Ironmaster, Penn, slipped when fencing - £75 (Railway Passengers, 1886)