Sunday, 29 March 2015

Thompsons: Spinal Injuries on Holiday

By specialist holiday and serious injury solicitor Martyn Gwyther, of Thompsons Solicitors.

Holidays abroad are something we all dream about, plan and spend a lot of time looking forward to enjoying. 

Sadly, for thousands of holiday makers each year, those dreams and aspirations can end in disaster due to an injury or illness suffered in resort.

In the context of spinal cord injuries, just as with domestic occurrences, the majority arise as a consequence of road traffic accidents. However, there are other regular causes including:
  • Falls from height;
  • Sporting accidents (mainly related to diving into swimming pools or cliff diving);
  • Aviation incidents; and
  • Violence
Speaking to survivors of spinal cord injury at Thompsons Solicitors, I have heard accounts of incidents in each circumstance; some of which may have been avoidable, others that were clearly not so. In every case, the consequences have been life changing.

For example, one of my clients suffered a severe spinal injury in an emergency aircraft landing that occurred whilst she was in Tanzania during the course of a `once in a lifetime’ safari holiday.  The injuries left her with a lifetime requirement for care from her husband. Her family home in Lincolnshire had to be substantially adapted to provide wider doorways, access ramps, a wet room and accessible worktops amongst other things. The adaptations were made possible in part by the significant compensation that came as a result of her personal injury claim against the airline.

In a road traffic collision that occurred in Spain involving two vehicles (one driven by an English resident and the other by a Spanish resident) a decision had to be taken whether it was feasible to run the case in the English courts. At the time there was some uncertainty about this issue but the English Court accepted that they had the power to determine the claim; a right that is now well enshrined into English law.

However, just because the case can be pursued in England does not necessarily mean that English law will be used to determine all of the issues that exist in the case. In this example, the claimant suffered a spinal cord injury leaving him with permanently impaired movement and sensation in both upper limbs, but with sufficient functionality to complete most activities of daily living and the capacity to drive an adapted vehicle. The value of the claim would have varied significantly according to whether English law or Spanish law was found to apply.

More recent developments in the law however mean that in the same set of circumstances the outcome may well have been different. Under a new law because the injury was in a road traffic accident in Spain there would be a strong argument that Spanish law would apply both to the case itself as well as the damages the injured person was entitled to.
What this case illustrates is how important it is to work with specialist serious injury lawyers who understands the full context. 

Thompsons has a wealth of experience involving claims relating to injuries which took place overseas and can help you with expert advice if your spinal cord injury was incurred abroad. Visit our website

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