Foreign Visitors Injured in Australia 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 injuries to his neck as a result of the motor vehicle accident.
The accident had occurred just a couple of days before JW was due to return to the UK. Therefore, we 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 the insurer, while JW gave instructions from the UK by phone and email. The claim was settled for a generous amount of compensation, giving JW financial reassurance which allows him to take time off work in the future if his symptoms are aggravated again.
YOUNG SWEDISH TOURIST STUCK BY CAR
Our young female client was visiting Brisbane from Sweden when an accident occurred. She ran across a very busy road when she mistakenly thought there was a pedestrian crossing.
Her companions yelled at her to stop. However, she didn’t hear them. She was struck by a car proceeding through a green light. IE was taken to hospital having suffered a broken knee and a head injury.
Our client was repatriated to Sweden. She then started suffering epileptic fits. She was diagnosed as having suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident and was unable to resume work until she had received significant rehabilitation and medical treatment.
We met IE and her companions in Europe and took detailed statements from them. It was then apparent that IE was probably the author of her own misfortune and that her claim against the driver’s insurance company was likely to fail.
Fortunately we were able to settle IE’s claim with the insurer on a heavily compromised basis so that IE at least received a tidy lump sum to partially compensate her for her injuries and losses.
GERMAN MOTORCYCLIST SUFFERS HEAD INJURY ON HOLIDAY IN NSW
We were contacted 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. Therefore our solicitor Tom Goudkamp visited him in the Black Forest in southern Germany where Dieter lived. Tom met with Dieter’s family and doctors, took witness statements and 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 driving 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. The two motorcyclists travelling behind Lena who witnessed the accident were from Switzerland and Norway respectively. Therefore the key witnesses in the case were all originally from Europe.
Lena was repatriated to Austria where Tom Goudkamp visited her to obtain a 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. The key witnesses were also 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 the UK, 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, it was decided that the proceedings would commence 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 undergrowth, 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.
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.
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 perform 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 a 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.
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 doorway 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 leant 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 Goudkamp decided to send a couple of his then paralegals to the premises to pretend that they were backpackers 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 at the point where the railing was attached to the vertical posts, concluded that the wood 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 on 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.