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April 9th 2020

Accidents & Illness Abroad

£19,000 damages for cruise passenger left with permanent facial scar after table waiter dropped drinks

Anne Thomson

Anne Thomson

Litigation Executive, Travel

£19,000 damages for cruise passenger left with permanent facial scar after table waiter dropped drinks

A cruise operator has agreed a £19,000 damages settlement with a passenger who was left with permanent scarring to her face after being hit by a water bottle dropped by a waiter serving at her table.

A cruise operator has agreed a £19,000 damages settlement with a passenger who was left with permanent scarring to her face after being hit by a water bottle dropped by a waiter serving at her table.

The accident happened just three days into a 14 day cruise on board the Celebrity Millennium ship, ruining what was meant to be a ‘dream holiday of a lifetime’ not only for the 56-year-old, but also for her close friends who’d organised the entire trip and were holidaying with her.

The woman says the incident left her in ‘excruciating pain’ and ‘complete shock’ as a full bottle of water hit her in the face, sliding off the tray carried by the waiter as he bent down to pick up another bottle he had dropped.

She says she immediately clutched at her face and when she removed her hand it was covered in blood, causing others on the table to react in shock.

The woman was taken to the onboard medical centre where the gash above her left eye was cleaned with saline solution and fixed with steristrips.

The following day her eye swelled significantly and went black, and she says that for much of the remainder of her holiday she struggled with blurred vision and headaches.

She has been left with a permanent scar and ‘dent’ across her left eyebrow which is easily visible from conversational distances, and which medical experts say will not change significantly in the future.

Now, following legal action in which the woman was represented by Hudgell Solicitors’ specialist accidents and injuries abroad team, a damages settlement of £19,000 has been agreed with operator Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL Cruises Limited), which admitted liability without any dispute.

The settlement was agreed to compensate her for the pain, suffering and scarring, loss of enjoyment on her holiday and financial losses, given the trip had cost her close to £6,000.

As part of the case it was alleged the cruise company had breached its duty of care to the passenger and failed to exercise reasonable care and skill to ensure she was safe.
Passenger sought damages to ‘right the wrongs’ of what happened.

The woman, who works in a training and development role, said the incident not only ruined the holiday for her and her friends, but has also left her self-conscious about her appearance.

“The injury is something I have to look at every day and is something I know is there when I am speaking to other people, so it does play on my mind and is something which upsets me, as it would most women,” she said.“Whenever I look in the mirror – especially when driving – it clearly stands out and it is upsetting.

“I know this was an accident and I understand that nobody intended for me to be hurt, but it was avoidable and it really did ruin what was meant to be the holiday of a lifetime for me.

“The waiter came to our table and he was showing off by throwing a bottle up in the air. He dropped it and as he bent down to pick it up the other bottles on his tray flew off and one hit me straight in the face.

“The pain was excruciating and I immediately held my eye. I could see the horror on the faces of the rest of the people at our table and my hand was covered in blood. There was soon a crowd around me and then I was taken to the medical room.

“The waiter obviously felt terrible and was very apologetic, as were the other staff. However, the same waiter was still serving our table for the next couple of nights which I was not happy about, and all waiters continued to carry large water bottles to other tables on trays for the rest of the cruise.

“I didn’t feel steps were taken to prevent something similar happening again.”

The woman says she did her best to enjoy the rest of the cruise, attending pre-arranged day trips in different locations, but that it was a struggle.

“My eye was badly swollen and black so I have a lot of holiday pictures of me with a big black eye. I also suffered from headaches for around a week. I just didn’t feel right and wasn’t happy,” she said.

“It affected my friends as well as they had booked the cruise for me to celebrate me being in remission from cancer. They’d arranged it especially as the cruise was stopping at Vietnam, which was a place I wanted to visit on my bucket list. It was just a mess really and very upsetting.

“It was my friends who urged me to seek compensation, and when I thought about it I realised they were right. I’d never made any sort of claim before but I am someone who believes in rights and wrongs, and what happened to me was certainly wrong and needed to be put right and addressed.

“It was never about the money for me, although the holiday had of course cost a significant amount. It was about recognition that I’d suffered. I had my holiday ruined, was put through a lot of pain and I’ve been left scarred. It has been very difficult and I wanted that to be recognised.”

Claims specialist says accident was ‘unfortunate’ but ‘avoidable’.

Anne Thomson, a specialist in handling holiday injury claims at Hudgell Solicitors, represented the woman in the case.

She said: “This was obviously a very unfortunate incident but one which caused our client to suffer a substantial injury which not only had a detrimental effect on the remainder of her cruise, but continues to do so in her life more than two years on.

“This was an accident which could and should have been avoided with more care. It goes without saying that there is a need for extra care when heavy carrying objects to and from tables, and this case has demonstrated the serious nature of injuries which can be suffered.

“Without question this incident ruined an eagerly anticipated holiday for which our client was fully deserving of significant compensation. We were pleased to see the operator admit liability in this case without dispute.”

Reflecting on the support from Hudgell Solicitors, the woman says she was delighted with the way her case was handled.

“Anne Thomson was wonderful and I’d happily recommend her to anybody,” she said.
“She was very supportive and considerate and she made the process simple for me, keeping me informed and ensuring I had all the help I needed.

“It can be difficult facing a legal process after something like this as you still have work to do and a life to lead, but Anne made sure everything was in hand and kept me informed at all times. I was impressed by her and pleased with the final result.”

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