Claims News

Holidaymaker Receives Settlement of Compensation for an Accident at a Ski Resort

Posted on: February 3rd, 2017

A holidaymaker, who broke his leg in a fall from a ski lift, has received a five-figure settlement of compensation for an accident at a ski resort.

In December 2010, Tom Giddens (25) from Solihull in the West Midlands was on a skiing holiday at the Val Thorens Ski Resort in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, France. As the light was beginning to fade, Tom and a friend got on the ski lift in order to go up the slope for one final run.

The ski lift stopped 200 feet from the top of the slope – stranding Tom and his friend in temperatures of -16 degrees. After waiting unsuccessfully for the ski lift to start, Tom rang the emergency number for the ski lift operator, but only connected to a recorded message.

Fearing hypothermia, the two men decided to jump from the ski lift onto the snow below. Tom´s friend negotiated the jump without incident, but the impact of the fall shattered broke Tom´s leg. Fortunately help arrived quickly, and Tom was taken to Moutiers Hospital where he had a metal rod inserted into his leg to help the broken bone heal.

Five days after his accident, Tom was flown back to the UK, where he continued his recovery at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. He was discharged on crutches and had to undergo eighteen months of physiotherapy. Tom sought legal advice and claimed compensation for an accident at a ski resort against the ski lift operator Societe D’Exploitation des Telepheriques Tarantaise-Maurienne.

The claim for compensation for an accident at a ski resort – made on the grounds that the ski lift operator had failed to adhere to safety standards – was initially contested. But, once court proceedings were issued in France, a settlement was agreed for an undisclosed five-figure amount. Speaking after his claim had been resolved, Tom said:

“It was terrifying being left up on that lift as it got darker and colder. We thought someone would have heard us calling for help but none came which is why we felt there was no other option than to jump for it. It wasn’t until my dad, who is a GP, came to visit me in hospital that I realised how lucky I’d been.”

Banks Told to Pay Compensation for Floor Capped Mortgages in Spain

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017

Dozens of Spanish banks in have been told to pay compensation for floor capped mortgages in Spain or face legal action by up to 2.5 million property owners.

During the international property boom, thousands of UK investors and families looking for a holiday home in the sun bought a property in Spain. Many took advantage of mortgages offering a low introductory interest rate followed by a variable rate linked to EURIBOR. What many did not realise was that the mortgage agreements included a “clausula suelo” or “floor cap” clause that stipulated if the EURIBOR rate went below a certain level, lenders could apply a minimum interest rate.

The EURIBOR rate was slashed in 2008 following the worldwide collapse of the property market. However, rather than charging less interest on the outstanding property loans, more than forty Spanish banks applied a similar or higher interest rate as before – causing considerable financial hardship for property owners, multiple mortgage defaults, and 90% of evictions. Many property owners felt they had been treated unfairly, as the “floor cap” clause had never been explained and was often only briefly mentioned among lengthy and complicated terms and conditions.

Attempts to recover compensation for floor capped mortgages in Spain were initially unsuccessful. Courts often found in favour the banks, who argued it was the purchaser´s responsibility to read and understand the terms and conditions of the mortgage before agreeing to it. However, in May 2013 – during a court case against Spain´s second-biggest lender BBVA – Spain´s Supreme Court ruled that BBVA´s floor cap clauses were unfair, and – although not prohibiting them – ruled that the clauses should be voided in all past and current mortgage agreements.

As a result of the Supreme Court´s ruling, 15,000 property owners brought a class action claiming compensation for floor capped mortgages in Spain. In April 2016, Judge Carmen Gonzalez found in the claimants´ favour and said that “quantities improperly charged” since May 2013 should be refunded. The verdict caught the eye of European Commissioners, who felt that, if the unfair clause was to be voided, it should be voided from the beginning of the agreement and compensation paid in full.

Spanish banks contested the Commissioners´ view – arguing that, if they paid compensation for floor capped mortgages in Spain from the start of every eligible mortgage agreement, their liabilities would exceed €4 billion. The banks claimed the liabilities would cripple the already unsteady banking sector. The Commissioners disagreed and, in December last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that compensation for floor capped mortgages in Spain should be paid in full.

Conscious of the potential for up to 2.5 million claims, the Spanish government acted quickly and last week announced the process through which banks would pay compensation for floor capped mortgages in Spain over a three-month period. The process starts with the lenders identifying which customers signed mortgage agreements containing the contentious clause. Banks then have to write to each customer with an offer of settlement.

If the offer of settlement is considered inappropriate and no agreement can be reached within three months, or mortgagees are not contacted by their lender within three months, the “extra-judicial procedure” will be considered concluded, allowing property owners to pursue compensation for floor capped mortgages in Spain through the courts. As ever, we advise those affected by this latest development to seek professional legal advice from a solicitor familiar with the Spanish real estate market.

Company Sentenced for Health and Safety Breaches at Work and Fined £150,000

Posted on: January 5th, 2017

A Tyne and Wear engineering company has been sentenced by Newcastle Crown Court, and fined £150,000 for health and safety breaches at work.

The prosecution against PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd resulted from a workplace accident in July 2014 due to which two employees suffered severe chemical burns. The two men had been cleaning a pipe system at a site in Cramlington, Northumberland, when a chemical reaction occurred between the Sodium Hydroxide granules they were using and some water.

The reaction caused the cleaning solution to heat up and create pressure within a hose. The hose disengaged from its mounting and sprayed both men with the chemical solution – one suffering life-threatening burns to his back, arms, legs and head. The second man suffered slightly less serious burns to his back, left arm and head.

The accident was investigated by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The inspectors found that an inadequate risk assessment had been conducted that led to the two men being provided with a hose not suitable for carrying out the work. It was also discovered that neither of the two men had been provided with adequate personal protective equipment.

The company was prosecuted for health and safety breaches at work that caused an avoidable accident. PSL Worldwide Projects pleaded not guilty to the charge of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, but were found guilty at Bedlington Magistrates´ Court last November. The case was subsequently referred to Newcastle Crown Court for sentencing.

At the sentencing hearing, judges heard that PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd had subsequently gone into liquidation. Although unable to order costs against the company, the judges issued a fine of £150,000 for the health and safety breaches at work. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Catterall said:

“If a suitable risk assessment had been undertaken it would have identified that the equipment being used was not right for the chemicals or the work being carried out. All companies who work with high hazard chemicals should learn from this case and ensure that their workers are properly protected.”

Federation Concerned that Injury Claims for Cyclists will be Affected by Compensation Reforms

Posted on: December 22nd, 2016

The British Cycling Federation has raised concerns that compensation reforms being considered by the government will affect injury claims for cyclists.

In November, Elizabeth Truss – the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor – announced the government was considering reforms in order to address the perceived compensation culture in the UK. One of the reforms under consideration is the raising of the “small claims” limit from £1,000 to £5,000.

The implication of raising the limit is that claimants making a personal injury claim for less than £5,000 will not be able to recover their legal costs. The measure is intended to “crack down on minor, exaggerated and fraudulent [personal injury] claims”. However, several organisations have voiced their concerns that the raising of the limit will prevent access to justice for genuine claimants.

One such organization is the British Cycling Federation. The Federation represents more than 100,000 cyclists in the UK, and it has produced figures showing that the majority of injury claims for cyclists fall within the proposed £5,000 limit. The Federation fears its members will lose their entitlement to legal representation and not pursue the injury compensation they are entitled to.

Martin Key – the Campaigns Manager for the British Cycling Federation – said: “The vast majority of injuries sustained in cycling incidents are valued at under the proposed £5,000 limit, meaning that – under the new proposals – any cyclist involved in an incident would find it very difficult to get legal representation and therefore to be adequately compensated for their injuries.”

The Federation is also unhappy that the consultation process has a January 6th deadline. According to Mr Key there is insufficient time (with the Christmas and New Year holidays falling just prior to the deadline) for raising all the issues that affect injury claims for cyclists. Nonetheless, Mr Key is confident that the Federation will submit a response before the deadline, and ask the Ministry of Justice to re-think both the proposed reforms and the consultation deadline.

Company Fined £3 Million for Employee Chemical Injuries at Work

Posted on: November 10th, 2016

Hull Crown Court has fined a Grimsby company £3 million for breaching health and safety regulations that resulted in employee chemical injuries at work.

In the early hours of 5th March 2010, Paul Doyley (48) was working underneath a large metal tank at the Crystal Pigment chemical plant in Grimsby, when a build-up of Titanium Tetrachloride within the tank came into contact with water and created a violent reaction, rupturing the vessel.

Paul was showered with the corrosive liquid and, as the liquid came into contact with the air, a toxic vapour cloud was created, causing internal injuries to his lungs as he breathed in. Two colleagues who tried to rescue Paul also suffered employee chemical injuries at work.

The toxic vapour cloud expanded rapidly to several metres in height and was blown across the River Humber – closing the shipping lanes for several hours. The incident was eventually brought under control by the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service.

Paul was taken to the Pinderfield´s Hospital in Wakefield, where he received specialist treatment for his employee chemical injuries at work. Tragically he died from his injuries on 18th March. One of rescuers – Ron Ingoldby – survived his injuries, but now has irreversible lung damage.

An investigation into the accident that caused the employee chemical injuries at work was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE inspectors found that Crystal Pigment UK Ltd had deviated from the normal procedures for the management of Titanium Tetrachloride.

The HSE inspectors also found that parts of the plant were poorly designed and that the company had not established robust safety management procedures and systems of work to assess and control risk. Furthermore, there were no measures in place to ensure what procedures were in place were actually followed.

The HSE prosecuted Crystal Pigment UK Ltd for breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. At Hull Crown Court the company pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined £2.4 million for the incident that led to the employee chemical injuries at work, plus a further £600,000 for breaching the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 in a later incident in which fortunately nobody was harmed.

Court Rules Woman Entitled to Compensation for a Fall from a Horse

Posted on: November 7th, 2016

The High Court has ruled that an eighteen-year-old woman, who broke her back in a horse riding accident, is entitled to compensation for a fall from a horse.

On 22nd September 2012, Ashleigh Harris (then aged 14 years) was encouraged to ride a thoroughbred racehorse by Rachel Miller – the mother of her then boyfriend – at the Miller family home in Malthern near Chepstow.

Although Ashleigh had considerable experience riding ponies, she had never before ridden a racehorse in an open field. After trotting the racehorse for five minutes, the racehorse broke into an “uncontrollable canter” on a downhill descent.

The racehorse started throwing its head and bucking, and Ashleigh was thrown from the saddle. Despite wearing body armour, Ashleigh broke her back when she fell and is now permanently paralysed from the waist down.

As soon as she turned eighteen years of age, Ashleigh claimed compensation for a fall from a horse against Miller on the grounds that there was a foreseeable risk of injury due to the racehorse being difficult to control.

Miller contested the allegations – claiming that she had sought permission from Ashleigh´s mother before allowing her to ride the racehorse. The case went to the High Court in London to be resolved, where it was heard by Judge Graham Wood QC.

At the hearing, Judge Wood found that Miller had made a serious error of judgement by encouraging Ashleigh to ride “a green, unresponsive and uneducated horse who, by her very nature, as a thoroughbred racehorse, would be strong, potentially wilful and difficult to control.”

Finding in Ashleigh´s favour, the judge added: “By positively encouraging Ashleigh to ride the horse and condoning, if not specifically instructing, a trot in an open field for the first time, Mrs Miller was exposing her to a risk of injury from a horse which could not be controlled in other than the most benign of conditions.”

Judge Wood adjourned the hearing for reports to be conducted into Ashleigh´s future needs. The outcome of the reports will determine how much compensation for a fall from a horse she is entitled to. Ashleigh´s lawyers believe that, due to the cost of Ashleigh´s ongoing specialist care, the final settlement of compensation for a fall from a horse could be several million pounds.

Solicitors Pursue Compensation for a Mechanic Injured at Work

Posted on: October 26th, 2016

Solicitors are pursuing compensation for a mechanic injured at work due to a transit van driving over him while he was cleaning out a car inspection pit.

The thirty-four year old mechanic – Stuart Currey from Morecambe in Lancashire – was cleaning out a car inspection pit at his employer´s workshop, when a young apprentice who was unaware of Stuart´s presence drove a transit van over the top of the pit.

Stuart was dragged under the transit van for ten metres and suffered horrific injuries. After colleagues jacked the van up off of him, Stuart was air-lifted to the Royal Preston Hospital suffering from fractures to his pelvis, hips, spine, shoulder and ribs.

Stuart remained in hospital for five weeks over the Christmas of 2014 and was discharged on New Years Eve. He still uses a wheelchair and crutches to move around and, due to his pelvis and hip injuries, now has one leg shorter than the other.

Stuart and his wife sought legal advice to see if he was entitled to compensation for a mechanic injured at work. At the same time, the Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation into Stuart´s accident and prosecuted his employer – Pye Motors Ltd. – for failing to implement measures that could have prevented the accident.

Earlier this week, representatives of Pye Motors Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Preston Magistrates Court. Although sentencing of his employer will not take place until January 2017, the admission of liability will allow Stuart´s solicitor to push forward with his claim for compensation for a mechanic injured at work.

Speaking after the hearing, Stuart told reporters: “The injuries I suffered have had a huge impact on my family too, particularly my daughters. I’m glad Pye Motors has pleaded guilty to the charges brought by the HSE and hope that this is the first step to drawing a line under this traumatic time and that it will allow me to start rebuilding my life and focusing all my efforts on my recovery.”

Holidaymakers Claim Compensation for Illnesses from a Contaminated Hotel Pool

Posted on: October 11th, 2016

Seventeen holidaymakers are claiming compensation for illnesses from a contaminated hotel pool following all-inclusive holiday on the Greek island of Zante.

The affected holidaymakers all stayed at the Marelen Hotel in the popular resort of Kalamaki during August this year. They allege that during their stay they suffered sickness and stomach cramps due to the hotel swimming pool being contaminated with Cryptosporidium – a microscopic parasite that is known to thrive in poorly maintained pools.

The claimants have alleged that conditions at the hotel were unhygienic, with several reporting faecal matter in the swimming pool. Other affected holidaymakers have said they saw staff cleaning the pool area with brushes, and then rinsing the brushes in the pool. None of the holidaymakers saw any deep cleaning of the pool or water testing being conducted.

One of the holidaymakers who believes she contracted an illness from the contaminated hotel pool is Rosanna Crowley (27) from Kettering in Northamptonshire. Rosanna was staying at the resort with her partner and two young children – all of whom suffered similar symptoms. She told her local newspaper: “As soon as I started feeling unwell I just knew it was bad. And then one-by-one we all came down with it.”

On the family´s return to Northamptonshire, they were examined by their GP. The cause of their illnesses was confirmed as Cryptosporidium and, due to the breeding habits of the parasite, her house had to be inspected by Environmental Health Officers. Now Rosanna and her family – along with the other affected holidaymakers are claiming compensation for illnesses from a contaminated hotel pool against the tour operator through whom the holiday was booked – Thomas Cook.

The solicitor acting on behalf of the claimants commented it was deeply concerning that this number of holidaymakers fell ill at the same time, at the same hotel. He added that the purpose of the claim for compensation for illnesses from a contaminated hotel pool was not only to recover compensation for those who had their holiday ruined, but also to ensure that steps are taken by Thomas Cook to ensure the same thing does not happen again.

£11.9 Million Compensation for Noise Induced Hearing Loss Paid to PSNI Officers

Posted on: September 12th, 2016

According to a data revealed in a Freedom of Information request, £11.9 million compensation for noise induced hearing loss has been paid to PSNI officers.

The Freedom of Information request was made by Sein Feinn MLA and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly and relates to the period between October 2013 and October 2015. During this period, 2,415 claims for noise induced hearing loss were settled in favour of current and former officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The claims relate to a failure by the PSNI to provide suitable hearing protection during weapons training. As the only routinely armed police force in the UK, PSNI officers had to undergo regular training. The injuries suffered by the officers range from tinnitus to partial deafness, with the individual settlements of compensation for noise induced hearing loss varying according to the level of injury sustained.

A spokesperson from the Police Federation for Northern Ireland said that many claims still remain unresolved. “There were deficiencies in the ways in which officers were protected from damage to their hearing”, the spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph. “These claims come forward because damage has been caused and all officers are awarded is what the courts deem to be appropriate settlements.”

Mr Kelly expressed concerns about the “staggering” amount of compensation for noise induced hearing loss paid out over the two years, and alleged that the claims had been mishandled by the police service. However, a statement from the PSNI’s legal services branch refuted Mr Kelly´s allegations and said the service was confident all claims against the organisation were dealt with appropriately.

The Police Federation spokesperson added that PSNI officers should be treated no differently than other employees injured at work and that – since the 1960s – the police service had been aware of medical evidence connecting the lack of protection to noise induced hearing loss.

Court Hears School Maintenance Worker´s Accident Attributable to Negligence

Posted on: August 10th, 2016

Chelmsford Crown Court has heard how a school maintenance worker´s accident was attributable to the school failing to enforce health and safety policies.

On February 17th 2015, Keith Chandler (63) was one of a team of school maintenance workers restoring the Grade II listed Newnum House within the grounds of the Brentwood School in Essex. As Keith climbed onto the roof of the bay window he was helping to repair, his foot got caught and he fell 2.6 metres to the ground below.

Keith was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture to his shoulder, five damaged vertebrae and a bruised kidney. Although he was able to return to work six weeks later, Keith is unable to climb ladders, work at height or lift heavy loads. His injury has also affected the leisure time he spends with his grandchildren.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the school maintenance worker´s accident, and found there were no effective guardrails or any other means of protection to prevent workers from falling from the roof of the bay window. The school´s trust – the Brentwood School Charitable Incorporated Organisation – was subsequently prosecuted for breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

At this week´s hearing of the Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge Charles Gratwicke heard that although the school had health and safety policies, they were not enforced. The school´s former maintenance manager – Anthony Bridger – told the court that it was difficult to enforce the policies on the school maintenance workers because they were “old school and just wanted to get on with the job”.

Representatives of the Brentwood School acknowledged that they had failed to monitor the level of supervision and direction being given to the maintenance team and admitted liability for the school maintenance worker´s accident. Commenting that the outcome could have been far worse if Keith had landed on his head, Judge Gratwicke fined the school £40,000 and ordered that it pay £1,477 costs.