Young woman receives damages following ski collision

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Young woman receives damages following ski collision

11th December 2012

A skier who has no memory of the collision which left her with a broken neck as well as serious facial injuries has received £40,000 in an out of court settlement.

Kieran Mitchell, a holiday accident specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the East London woman had been left with permanent neck pain and stiffness as a result of the collision, which occurred on a French mountain more than three years ago.

“My client had just begun skiing down a marked piste when another skier ploughed into her from behind at speed and knocked her unconscious,” said Kieran, a solicitor with the firm. “Her next memory is of waking briefly inside a medical evacuation helicopter and then again in hospital, where scans revealed she had fractured her jaw and nose as well as the uppermost bone in her neck.

“After undergoing reconstructive surgery to her face and jaw, my client - who is in her 20s and was temporarily living and working in France at the time of the incident - remained in hospital for another seven days,” he added. “She was then discharged into the care of her former partner with her broken neck in a supportive brace and a fixation device around her jaw.

“For the next two months, during which time she was advised not to travel, her injuries remained painful and swollen,” said Kieran. “In addition, she was unable to consume solid foods and as her movements were so restricted she had to rely almost entirely upon her partner for help with her personal care and all her day-to-day needs.”

When the claimant’s jaw support was removed after eight weeks, her jaw remained extremely stiff and it took another four months for her injury to heal. After a series of CT scans performed months apart confirmed that the bone in her vertebrae was healing well albeit slowly, her neck brace was removed six months after her accident.

Following the removal of her brace, the claimant’s neck remained stiff and painful and she underwent extensive physiotherapy and acupuncture before her doctors declared she was safe to travel home. Shortly after her return to England however, she was briefly admitted to hospital having reported pins and needles in both her hands – symptoms she was told were associated with her broken neck.

“Despite being discharged from hospital as soon as x-rays confirmed that there were no additional fractures in her neck, my client continued to suffer ongoing pain, stiffness and restriction of movement around her neck as well as regular headaches and pins and needles in both her hands,” said Kieran. “My client was unable to work for 12 months following her accident and although she has now returned to work and undergone further physiotherapy, she continues to suffer pain towards the base of her skull, particularly at night.

“Since the incident, my client hasn’t been able to pursue her two favourite activities - skiing and rock-climbing - she cannot lift or carry anything heavy without pain. and she cannot even run without getting a headache,” he added. “In addition, her nose has been left slightly disfigured and with restricted breathing, she has been left with scarring around her mouth and she has been told that her neck pain and stiffness are likely to remain permanent.

“The reason why this case took so long to settle is because there was a conflict of laws,” said Kieran. ”Essentially, the parties couldn’t agree whether English or French law should apply in regard to the quantification of damages, given the client’s temporary residence in France at the time of the accident. Settlement was ultimately achieved at the lower end of an English valuation, which was significantly more advantageous to the claimant.”

After the skier who hit the claimant admitted liability at the scene, Kieran settled the claim on behalf of his client for £40,000. In addition, he was also able to separately recover the cost of the medical treatment she received in France.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to holiday accidents and illness.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in theonline claims questionnaire.