Travel Accident Compensation Case Studies
BRITISH TOURIST INJURED IN TAXI REAR END SHUNT
Our client, JW, was visiting Sydney from the UK. He was a passenger in a taxi when a ute drove into his vehicle during peak hour traffic. JW sustained whiplash type injuries to his neck as a result of the motor vehicle accident.
The accident occurred just a couple of days before JW was due to return to the UK. We therefore arranged to see him urgently before he left Australia, so that we could complete and lodge a Personal Injury Claim Form on his behalf.
The ute’s CTP insurer quickly admitted liability, but unfortunately JW developed aggravated pain when he returned to work. JW was a hospital nurse which required him to lift and carry heavy objects and remain on his feet for most of his long shifts. He struggled with these tasks due to his neck pain.
We gathered evidence of JW’s injuries and held a settlement meeting with insurer, with JW giving instructions from the UK by phone and email. The claim settled for a generous amount of compensation, giving JW the financial reassurance that he can take time off work in the future if his symptoms are aggravated again.
AIRCRAFT PASSENGER INJURED BOARDING PLANE
We successfully obtained compensation for LT who was injured in an accident whilst boarding a routine domestic flight at a small rural airport. At this particular airport, rather than walking on an aerobridge to board the aircraft, passengers such as LT had to walk out of the terminal building and board their flight via portable metal stairs. As LT walked up the metal staircase, she struck her foot on a piece of protruding metal, causing injury.
LT sustained a deep laceration that became infected, as well as fracture to her toe. She needed extensive medical treatment and was unfit to work in her manual job for several weeks.
As LT was injured during the course of boarding the aircraft, we brought a claim against the airline, to include compensation for LT’s pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical expenses. Court proceedings were commenced within the two year limitation period to protect LT’s rights, and we subsequently secured a generous settlement for LT at an informal settlement conference.
YOUNG SWEDISH TOURIST STUCK BY CAR
Our young female client was visiting Brisbane from Sweden when she ran cross a very busy road when she mistakenly thought there was a pedestrian crossing.
CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER REQUIRES SURGERY AFTER FALL
We successfully acted for an elderly lady who slipped and fell whilst disembarking a cruise ship. Our client had enjoyed a 3 week cruise and was leaving the ship at the final port when she slipped on a wet ramp, sustaining a serious injury to her shoulder. The highlight of our client’s holiday of a lifetime, a 3 day land tour of Beijing and the Great Wall of China, was ruined as she spent most of these final days resting on the tour bus or in her hotel room.
Our client was diagnosed as requiring surgery on her shoulder after she returned to Australia. Disheartened by the waiting list on the public health system, she contacted our specialist cruise injury lawyers.
The claim had jurisdictional issues as the accident occurred in China. Nevertheless our cruise accident experts were able to negotiate a generous settlement for our client from the cruise company which included compensation for her pain and suffering, care and domestic assistance, and the cost of her such needed surgery in a private hospital. Our client can now have the surgery that she needs promptly, and get her life back on track.
AUSTRALIAN WOMAN INJURED ON SOUTH PACIFIC CRUISE HOLIDAY
Our client and her husband were only two days into a two-week cruise holiday, when she sustained a nasty fracture to her right wrist and injury to her shoulder after slipping over on a greasy floor aboard the vessel.
Upon her return to Australia, our client underwent surgery to repair the fracture to her wrist and incurred significant medical expenses for both the surgery and her extended period of rehabilitation. Our client also was forced to have over 5 months off work to recover from her injuries.
After tough negotiations with the cruise ship company, Stacks Goudkamp achieved a settlement for our client which compensates her for all of her past expenses, provides her with security for the future, and provides some acknowledgement that our client’s holiday was ruined by this avoidable accident.
GERMAN MOTORCYCLIST SUFFERS HEAD INJURY ON HOLIDAY IN NSW
We were instructed by a German national called Dieter who wanted to see a lawyer whilst he was on holiday in Sydney. We met with him and he told us that about two years earlier he had fallen off a motorcycle in Mullumbimby, NSW, whilst on a previous trip to Australia. He explained that whilst he was lying on the road, another motorcycle ran over his head causing a head injury.
Dieter told us that he had instructed solicitors in Sydney but had lost contact with them when he returned to Germany after his release from hospital. He wanted to prosecute his claim, but did not know where to turn.
We made enquiries and ascertained that Court proceedings had been commenced on Dieter’s behalf by the other solicitors, but the matter had been struck out for lack of action. We immediately arranged for the case to be reinstated and obtained the file from the previous solicitors.
By the time the case was reinstated, Dieter had returned to Germany. Our Tom Goudkamp therefore visited him in the Black Forest in southern Germany where Dieter lived. Tom met with Dieter’s family and doctors, took witness statements and generally prepared Dieter’s case. With this evidence building, we were able to get Dieter’s claim back on track.
After a couple of years Tom returned to Dieter’s home in Germany for further meetings and for a settlement conference. At 4.00 a.m. German time, we managed to settle Dieter’s claim for a favourable six figure sum.
AUSTRIAN MOTORCYCLIST SUFFERS LEG INJURY ON OFF ROAD TREK
Lena, a 20 year old Austrian tourist, came to Australia specifically to go on a motorcycle trek from Cairns to the Cape York Peninsula.
The motorcyclists in the group were travelling in single file along the sandy tracks near Cape York. When Lena came to a sweeping right hand bend she was suddenly confronted by a car, being driven in the opposite direction, on her side of the track. Lena tried to get out of the way but the car’s wheels became stuck in the soft sand and the car drifted straight into her. Lena suffered a serious leg injury.
It transpired that the car driver was a tourist from Holland and the two motorcyclists travelling behind Wally who witnessed the accident were from Switzerland and Norway respectively. The key witnesses in the case were therefore all situated in Europe.
Lena was repatriated to Austria where Tom Goudkamp visited her to obtain statement and take instructions.
Liability was denied by the car’s insurance company. We therefore commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of Queensland in Cairns. During the course of the litigation, we successfully applied to have the case heard in Vienna, because this is where Lena lived and the key witnesses were in nearby European countries.
The case was ultimately heard in a Viennese hotel. After 3 days of hearing, all the witnesses gave conflicting versions of what they saw. The insurer was willing to negotiate rather than have the Judge make a ruling. We were therefore able to settle the claim very favourably for Lena.
UK PROFESSOR SUFFERS BRAIN INJURY IN CAR ACCIDENT
We acted for FR, a visiting Professor from the UK, who held a senior position at the Australian National University.
Tragically he suffered a catastrophic brain injury when the car in which he was travelling as a passenger along the Monaro Highway near Cooma left the roadway, rolled a few times and ended up in a paddock. The driver, who was also from England, escaped without any injury at all.
Our client spent many months at the Liverpool Brain Injury Unit in Sydney, where he was visited by members of his family. He was ultimately repatriated to England.
We brought a claim on FR’s behalf against the third party/green slip insurer of the car in which he was travelling as a passenger. We negotiated funding for FR’s repatriation to the UK and later visited him and members of his family in Cambridge, where they lived.
Normally the claim would have been brought in New South Wales. However under the law of England & Wales, a claim could properly be brought in the UK. Since the damages available in England & Wales were far higher than damages in New South Wales, the proceedings were commenced in the UK.
The Australian insurer appointed London lawyers who alleged that FR had contributed to the accident by grabbing the steering wheel of the car when he suddenly woke up and that it was he who caused the car to run off the road.
Our Tom Goudkamp engaged an expert traffic engineer and travelled to the scene of the accident to see it for himself. Tom could still see where the car had left the road, and even found FR’s spectacles in the under growth, some 3 years after the accident.
Tom also traced witnesses from a nearby property who recalled the accident. Our witness’ version of the accident contradicted the version the driver had given to the police.
The claim was settled for a significant sum at a settlement conference in Sydney, with no discount for contributory negligence. As FR had no legal capacity because of his severe brain injury, the settlement had to be approved by a Justice of the High Court in London.
BALI PARTYGOER PARALYSED AFTER FALL FROM BALCONY
Our client, David, who lived in Perth, was 20 years old when he purchased a package holiday at resort in Kuta Beach, Bali.
He was attracted to the resort by the party atmosphere and various drinks promotions. The establishment was exclusively for Australians.
David consumed extreme amounts of alcohol as was encouraged at the resort. However whilst intoxicated he fell from a first floor balcony onto a rock garden. He broke his neck and was paralysed. He was repatriated from Bali to Perth where he was hospitalised for a long time.
Once instructed Tom Goudkamp travelled to the resort incognito to try and establish what had happened and how the accident could have been prevented. He also took an engineer to conduct a slip test on the balcony from which David fell.
We gathered evidence of the alcohol promotions and drinking prizes, in order to build a case that there was irresponsible service of alcohol. The engineer also reported that the balcony was dangerously slippery, particularly in the tropical humidity. The fact that David had been wearing thongs, as you would expect in a holiday resort, did not help. Furthermore the balcony wall was only 12 inches high.
The case proceeded to a mediation in Sydney and was settled for a very significant sum.
CRUISE PASSENGER INJURED ON RETURN FROM SHORE EXCURSION
Our client, Audrey, sustained a serious injury to her leg whilst on a luxury South Pacific cruise.
Audrey and her husband John had enjoyed a shore excursion to a tropical beach in Fiji, and took a tender back to the cruise ship. As the tender approached the vessel, the sea conditions became rough. The passengers were instructed to disembark the tender onto the vessel, but by this time the tender was rising and falling by the height of an adult due to the waves and rough swell.
Audrey was stepping across from the tender to the cruise ship’s pontoon, when a large wave caught her off balance. She fell forward and fractured her tibia.
We submitted a claim to the Australian cruise operator on the basis that they were negligent, breached their contract with Audrey, and breached statutory guarantees they owned to Audrey under the Australian Consumer Law to provide cruise holiday services with due care and skill and which were reasonably fit for purpose. In particular we alleged that the transfer operations should have been suspended until the weather abated, or until the cruise company could provide additional assistance to passengers. The cruise company denied liability.
We commenced court proceedings in the District Court of NSW. After protracted negotiations, the cruise operator agreed to settle Audrey’s claim rather than go to trial. Audrey received a favourable settlement, which she told us she would put towards a luxury cruise with another operator, to make up for her ruined holiday.
AIRLINE PASSENGER SUFFERS HEAD INJURY FROM DROPPED LUGGAGE
We were instructed by a father of two, James, who suffered a head injury on a long haul flight to Australia following a holiday in Europe. James had been enjoying the inflight entertainment when a cabin crew member dropped a fellow passenger’s hand luggage from an overhead locker onto James’ head.
James sustained a head injury from the blow to the head, and developed a psychiatric disorder.
As the accident occurred during an international flight, James’ claim was subject to the Montreal Convention. The Defendant airline was not willing to negotiate a settlement, and court proceedings were therefore commenced within the two-year limitation period in James’ home jurisdiction of NSW.
A primary obstacle in James’ case was his claim for the psychiatric disorder which he developed. The airline argued that this was not compensable, as only ‘bodily injury’ is compensable under the Montreal Convention.
We obtained medical evidence which found that the nature of James’ psychiatric injury was a ‘bodily injury’ because of the effect that it had on James’ brain. We also argued that psychiatric injuries are compensable under the Montreal Convention, in light of a line of case law in both Australian and foreign Courts.
The airline claim ultimately conceded that there was a risk that they would lose this interpretation of the Montreal Convention at trial. The claim resolved at mediation for a favourable outcome for James.
LIGHT AIRCRAFT CRASH CAUSED BY ENGINE FAILURE
We acted for two young search and rescue volunteers, A & S, who were passengers in a one engine Cessna aeroplane in its search for another light plane which had gone missing in the Camden area, just outside Sydney.
Our clients occupied the rear seat as the Cessna flew over the Warragamba Dam and then over heavily timbered country in that region. Suddenly there was a complete engine failure. There was nowhere for the plane to land, other than in trees. On impact all on board were killed except A and S.
A suffered a serious spinal injury, whilst S sustained significant abdominal injuries.
Fortunately pieces of the engine were retrieved from the scene. These were examined and revealed that the torque setting applied to the connecting rod bolt by a flight engineer some 800 flying hours before the accident was inappropriate.
The engineer gave evidence at the Coroner’s inquest that he was simply following the service manual published by the manufacturer of the plane, Telydene Continental from Mobile, Alabama. Updated settings had not been sent by Telydene to update the service manual.
The wrong torque setting caused microscopic fretting of the metal which ultimately led to the catastrophic engine failure.
In conjunction with Alabama lawyers, we sued Telydene Continental in Alabama on A and S’s behalf just days before the limitation period in Alabama expired i.e. 12 months from the date of the accident.
The defence lawyers convened a mediation in Los Angeles a few weeks before the trial was due to commence. Our Tom Goudkamp attended the mediation with A and S and our US attorneys. The case settled at mediation on very favourable terms for our clients.
CHINESE STUDENT SUFFERS EYE INJURY
Our client suffered a significant injury to her eye in a motor vehicle accident. The injury left her with impaired vision.
It was our client’s case that at the time of the accident she was studying English, having recently come to this country from China, so that she could commence a health therapy business. Unfortunately her injuries made it impossible for her to complete her TAFE course or to commence her business. Accordingly a significant loss of income earning potential was claimed on her behalf. This claim was vigorously opposed by the insurer.
The claim was well settled at the door of the court.
CRUISE PASSENGER SLIPS ON WET DECK
Our client was on a luxury pacific islands cruise when he slipped on wet decking that had been hosed earlier that morning. He sustained injuries to his shoulder.
On return to Australia, our client required significant medical treatment and his ability to work was compromised.
Our specialist travel lawyers brought a compensation claim against the cruise operator for our client’s cruise accident. Although liability was strongly denied, we were able to successfully secure our client compensation for his injuries without the need to go to court.
PASSENGER INJURED BOARDING PLANE
We acted for an elderly, vision-impaired lady who tripped on a defective walkway as she boarded a domestic flight at a major airport in Australia. Our client sustained a serious injury to her hip in the accident, and her injury caused her to lose a great deal of confidence.
We became involved in the matter very early on and negotiated directly with the airline responsible. The airline had paid a small amount to our client for some of her early expenses but ultimately ignored our client’s claim for several months.
We did not back down and continued to place pressure on the airline. Ultimately, we were able to negotiate a generous settlement for our client which will provide her with some financial security and also act as an acknowledgement of her pain and suffering ever since the accident.
BELGIAN STUDENT INJURED IN CAR ACCIDENT
Our client was a Belgian student who was travelling throughout Australia on a working holiday when he sustained a serious injury to his right foot in a motor vehicle accident. Our client was treated in Australia before being repatriated to Belgium shortly after the accident.
Fortunately our client made a strong recovery from his injury, however he was left with some ongoing issues with his right foot which hindered his ability to enjoy several of his pre-accident hobbies and also caused him pain whilst he was at work.
We were able to negotiate a settlement with the insurer which will provide our client with some financial security in the event that he is required to change jobs or retrain on account of the long-term restrictions he faces due to his injury.
BRITISH NATIONAL INJURED IN WORKPLACE ACCIDENT
We acted for Harrison, an overseas visitor from the UK, who was living in Sydney, on a working holiday. He had been engaged to perform work as a glazier even though he was qualified as a plumber. He subsequently sustained injury when incorrectly packed glass fell on him, which he had not been trained to handle.
Harrison’s injuries prevented him from being able to return to full time work as a glazier.
He was also unable to work related to his trade qualification as a plumber and suffered significant economic loss as a result. We settled Harrison’s matter at mediation for a generous sum.
ISRAELI TOURIST INJURED ON SYDNEY HARBOUR
Our client was visiting Sydney from Israel when she suffered physical and psychological injuries whilst on a jet boat ride on Sydney Harbour. She alleged that her injuries were caused when the driver of the jet boat allowed the vessel to suddenly become airborne by steering through the wake of a ferry, sending our client down very hard on thinly padded seat.
Our client was repatriated to Israel after her discharge from St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. We arranged for her and others to be interviewed in Israel and for her to undergo a number of medical assessments in Tel Aviv. The insurance company of the jet boat refused to accept liability and fought the case very hard. We sued the company on our client’s instructions.
We managed to defeat the insurer’s application for our client to pay a large sum of money into court, in case she eventually lost her case, and we then successfully applied to the court for her claim to be heard by a Sydney judge in Tel Aviv. After the claim was actually set down for a court hearing in Israel, it was settled for a substantial sum.
AIR TRAVELLER INJURED BY DEFECTIVE SEAT
Our client injured herself when she sat on a defective seat at the Qantas terminal at Sydney Airport. The seat collapsed underneath her, causing her immediate pain and multiple orthopaedic and soft tissue injuries. We resolved the claim during settlement negotiations with the airline’s lawyers for a very satisfactory sum.
TOURIST INJURED BY AIR VENT IN HOTEL
Maryanne suffered an injury to her neck when she was staying at a Sydney hotel. The hotel room she was staying in had a vent above a door way where she was standing holding her small child. Without warning the vent fell from the wall and struck Maryanne on the head, narrowly missing her child. The hotel fought things all the way to court but following several discussions with the insurer, we were able to convince the Hotel to settle out of court.
ENGLISH TOURIST SUFFERS CATASTROPHIC INJURIES AFTER BALCONY COLLAPSE
Our client, who was about 30 at the time, had a dreadful accident on the day she arrived in Sydney from England. She visited a friend in a block of flats at Kingsford. She leaned on a wooden balcony railing, to enjoy a glass of wine whilst watching the sunset. Suddenly the railing snapped and she somersaulted off the first floor balcony onto the concrete path below. Her back was broken.
The vital piece of evidence was the wooden railing. How to inspect it? Tom decided to send a couple of his then paralegals to the premises to pretend that they were back packers looking for a flat to rent. They were given access to the flat in question. The offending piece of timber was propped up against a wall in the kitchen. They took photographs of the railing, particularly of the rusted nails. They also photographed the balcony.
A building expert, who viewed the photos concluded that the wood, at the point where the railing was attached to the vertical posts, was rotten and this defect should have been obvious to the landlord on visual inspection.
Our client returned to England where she struggled with her disabilities. We commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court in Sydney and settled her case for an extremely large sum, after Tom had met with her in England.
BRITISH TOURIST INJURED WHEN CHAIR COLLAPSES AT MCDONALDS
In June 2009, Chris, a tourist from England, went to the McDonald’s restaurant on Manly Pier to have a cup of coffee. As he sat down, the aluminium chair completely collapsed beneath him.
Chris landed heavily of the concrete surface, injuring his lower back and left shoulder in the process.
Chris returned to England the next day, but because of the increasing pain in his lower back and left shoulder, he was unable to resume his normal trade of bricklaying.
Chris made a claim against the hamburger giant on the basis that the chair it provided was broken and should have been removed from service. When Chris received no satisfaction from McDonald’s he consulted Tom Goudkamp, the managing director of Stacks Goudkamp.
As Chris, his witness and doctors all reside in England, Stacks Goudkamp successfully applied to the District Court in Sydney for the claim to be heard in England by a Sydney judge. Just before the judge and the lawyers for both parties were about to embark on the trip to England the case was settled for a significantly higher sum than Chris had been offered before he instructed Stacks Goudkamp.