Holidaymakers who suffer accidents abroad can face an uphill struggle to obtain just compensation, but specialist English lawyers are well equipped to rise to the challenge. In one case, a woman who was injured when she tripped over a sun lounger at a hotel in Mauritius was awarded substantial damages.
The woman was making her way back to her room from a hotel restaurant after dark fell on the holiday island. She tripped over the sun lounger shortly after stepping from a lit pathway onto an unlit sun terrace. She fell flat on her face suffering, amongst other things, a broken nose and two fractured teeth. She developed a phobia of falling, together with tinnitus, hearing loss and persistent headaches.
After she launched proceedings against the tour operator through which she booked the holiday, a judge noted that, although the night was not pitch dark, it would have been very difficult for her see the dark-coloured sun lounger. Having just left the lit path, her eyes would have had little time to acclimatise. Lighting was subsequently installed on the terrace and there was evidence that the hotel's staff had apologised to her following the accident.
The tour operator was liable to compensate her under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 in that the accident was caused by an improper performance of the holiday contract. The lack of lighting on the terrace fell below the health and safety standards prevailing in Mauritius. The woman was, however, ruled 20 per cent responsible for her own misfortune in failing to turn back once she realised that the way ahead of her was in darkness.
The woman was awarded £30,000 in damages for her pain, suffering and loss of amenity, together with further sums in respect of dental treatment, additional travel costs, damage to her clothing and to reflect the diminution of her enjoyment of her holiday. All those sums would be reduced by 20 per cent to take account of her contributory negligence.