Obtaining just compensation for holidaymakers injured abroad can be a demanding task in legal terms. However, a case concerning a serious accident at a hotel on the Spanish island of Tenerife showed that specialist lawyers are well up to meeting the challenge.
A recently married English tourist in her 50s was on the third day of her trip when disaster struck. She was heading back to her room after enjoying dinner with her husband when she fell about three metres from an external staircase onto concrete. She suffered spinal injuries and severe brain damage which will blight the rest of her life.
After being flown back to Britain by air ambulance, the woman's husband launched proceedings against the tour operator that had organised the couple's holiday. It was alleged that she fell through a gap where no barrier or railing was present.
The case was complicated by the fact that the precise circumstances of the fall remained unclear. No one witnessed the incident and, due to the severity of her head injuries, the woman had no recollection of what happened. The tour operator also raised issues concerning architectural standards in force on the island.
Following negotiations, however, the tour operator agreed to pay 70 per cent of the full value of her damages claim. The amount of her compensation had yet to be assessed, but was bound to be very substantial even after a 30 per cent deduction.