One of our clients (aged 51 at the time) was involved in an accident whilst on holiday in Ibiza, Spain during 2005. Briefly, during September 2005 she, her daughter and grandson went on a short holiday. At one point, in order to use one of the toilets at the hotel premises, she had to walk down a flight of steps which were steep, constructed of terracotta tiles and were unlit. They were not fitted with a handrail. As she descended the first step, she tripped and because there was only a low wall to the side of the staircase, she fell down a sheer drop, a distance of some 3m and sustained a mild to moderate brain injury. This also aggravated a number of pre-accident problems including depression and anxiety.
This was a difficult case and the prospects of our client succeeding with her claim in the UK against the Tour Operator (as this had been a package holiday) were uncertain for a number of reasons:-
- our client was the only person who was able to say how this accident happened. Her version of events was disputed by the hotel;
- as her accident had happened in Spain and not in England, the standard by which the structure and condition of the hotel, and in particular the staircase, was to be judged by the standards of the relevant country or region (here, Ibiza) – unfortunately, the evidence on local standards was inconclusive;
- arguably, even on establishing primary liability, there would be a considerable deduction on account of our client’s contributory negligence.
For all these reasons, the parties eventually agreed liability on a 50/50 split basis. Trying to assess our client’s damages was equally problematic. Even with the benefit of medical evidence, our experts did not support the contention that the accident had led to all her ongoing head symptoms. After protracted negotiations between the parties (which included a round table meeting) we were able to eventually agree upon a settlement which in turn was approved by the Court at Bristol as our client by now had become a protected party.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £180,000 gross for this client during 2013