Accidents Abroad

Leading Travel Litigation Teams’ expertise helps secure £54,000 damages under American Federal Law for holidaymaker who suffered fractured spine in fall at Florida hotel

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Anne Thomson

Senior Litigation Executive

5 min read time

A woman who suffered a fracture to her spine when falling at a hotel in Florida has been awarded £54,000 damages after taking legal action.

The woman, 57, had been getting out of a hot tub at the hotel when she slipped on polished stone steps which were ‘like an ice rink’ as they had no anti-slip surface.

As well as the fracture to a bone at the top of her spine she also suffered two broken ribs and had to wear a back brace for three months.

The hotel had been booked by the woman and her husband directly as the last stop of a mini-tour of Miami and Orlando.

By booking direct, they didn’t have the protection of being covered for accidents and injuries which is afforded when trips are booked as part of a package holiday, meaning the only option left for them was to seek legal redress from the hotel itself, and under federal law in America.

They turned to Hudgell Solicitor’s specialist travel litigation team, who worked alongside specialist injury lawyers in Florida to represent them.

A successful holiday injury claim was made to compensate the woman for her pain and suffering, loss of holiday enjoyment and loss of earnings, having being left largely immobile for six months when returning home.

“I’m really impressed with the way this matter was handled by Hudgell Solicitors and how they worked with the legal team in America to bring the matter to a successful conclusion quickly, given the accident happened in March 2019,” said the woman’s husband.

“My wife was left in a really bad way for six months as a result of this accident and I had to do everything for her in that time. She was unable to work so it had an impact on our finances too as she is able to earn well.

“When we first considered taking legal advice I was thinking we may be able to get some kind of offer of goodwill, such as maybe an offer from the hotel operator of a week’s holiday free of charge at another destination.

“However, when I spoke to the team at Hudgells they said we should be seeking compensation given the nature of the accident and the seriousness of my wife’s injuries, and, given the impact it had on my wife, they were right.”

As part of the claim, Hudgell Solicitors’ UK-based team gathered all information required to support the client and legal claim which was conducted in the US.

Network of legal experts ensures Hudgells can support people seriously injured in America

As Vice Chair of the International Practice section of the American Association of Justice (AAJ), Hudgells’ Head of Travel Litigation, Paul McClorry, is part of a network of worldwide members specialising in different areas of trial advocacy.

This group provides our lawyers with the information and professional assistance they need to successfully serve and protect people who have suffered serious injuries in many countries around the world, including America.

Holiday accident claims specialist Anne Thomson led the case from the UK on behalf of Hudgell Solicitors.

She said: “Due to the fact this couple had booked directly with the hotel, and it was not a break which was part of a package holiday run by a UK tour operator, any legal action had to be pursued in the United States.

“That obviously can be hugely difficult, but the excellent relationships Hudgells have with firms in other countries proves hugely beneficial.

“It enables us to assist in cases where people suffer serious injuries, as it did here, as our client was ultimately able to instruct the American law firm and ourselves to represent her in her claim for damages against the hotel.

“We were pleased to be able to secure such a substantial settlement within two years of her accident.”

‘Hudgell Solicitors were excellent throughout the entire legal process’

The woman’s husband, who has run his own business in the North East for three decades, said: “I was impressed with the communication throughout the entire process.

“Anne was very sympathetic and understanding at all times and she was determined to get the best result for us, as did the lawyer in America who even went to the hotel himself to inspect the area and the steps personally, which have since been changed and now do have anti-slip protection on them.

“It was awful to see my wife in such pain. The whole area was like an ice rink and not long before my wife fell we saw a hotel waiter fall heavily next to the pool.

“When she had the accident she was lying on the floor, in her swimming costume, crying out in pain.

“We were able to return home after she had been in hospital for a couple of nights with insurers arranging for my wife to fly home in a bed, but it was really difficult getting home, especially given I have a prosthetic leg and I was having to push her in a wheelchair.

“It wasn’t well organised and was a complete struggle at the airport both in the US and UK though and it that which made me think we needed more help.

“I’m glad we turned to Hudgell Solicitors. They were excellent throughout the entire legal process.”

The Accident on holiday claim was brought without the couple needing to pay any legal fees in advance. The agreement covered payment of both the American law firm and Hudgell Solicitors’ fees, with the woman receiving just over £54,000 damages.

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