Holiday season mishaps

Although the festive season has well and truly arrived, many people will opt to travel abroad this Christmas in search of warmer – or perhaps colder – surroundings. Indeed, Christmas can be a miserable and depressing time of the year for many people in Britain, which is arguably why the festive period traditionally experiences a rise in suicides (although carol singers, overbearing families and seemingly endless television repeats may also play a part in this). In any case, travelling abroad for the Christmas period is often seen as a pleasant alternative to sitting at home in damp and dreary Britain. However, as a British tourist recently discovered, foreign holiday resorts are far from immune to misery and disaster.

Before proceeding to discuss the particular points of the case in question, it is worth noting that anybody who is considering a last minute trip abroad this Christmas might wish to choose their airline carrier with great care. Indeed, British Airways cabin staff have voted to commence an industrial strike as of the 22nd December this year, which would cause major disruption at this critical time of the year – and not merely to those who are planning a festive getaway. Whilst it is not yet certain that the union action will go ahead, British Airways has launched its own legal challenge to the strike. In any case, passengers who are likely to be affected by any such strike will no doubt wish to consider their own legal options in order to ensure that their holiday plans remain free of complication.

Returning to the case at hand, an unnamed 30 year old woman had travelled to the Dominican Republic with her partner as part of a package holiday. Although the holiday itself was as advertised in terms of sunshine, food and accommodation, the holidaymaker was set to experience a most unfortunate incident that demonstrates how accidents abroad can come in any guise. The woman was sleeping in the double bed of her hotel room when the overhead fan, which had been mounted on the ceiling and was operational at the time, broke free from its mounting and landed on top of her. As a result, the woman received a number of injuries that were caused chiefly by the impact of the falling fan (as opposed to injuries that might have been sustained by its rotation).

In this respect, the woman was perhaps fortunate to survive the incident, as a larger fan could have caused fatal injuries. In fact, the fallen fan was of a metal construction and of considerable weight, so death would most likely have occurred had the fan landed on the victim’s head. Fortunately, the victim’s most serious injuries were limited to her right foot, which suffered serious ligament damage. Nevertheless, it is clear that the incident should never have happened and, so far as the ensuing legal claim was concerned, it proved to be a cut and dry case of holiday operator negligence. Indeed, the claimant has recently been awarded £6,000 by the travel operator, who admitted liability for the victim’s personal injuries and subsequent loss of earnings (as she was unable to work immediately after returning home from the holiday).

Thus, anybody travelling abroad this Christmas will no doubt want to remind themselves of their legal rights should events go awry – it might also be a sensible idea not to sleep directly under an overhead fan in anything other than the newest of accommodation.

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