International travel law experts Irwin Mitchell has expressed concerns for the 100 people injured and the families of the 66 victims who died in a fire at a Bangkok nightclub, who have received a “pitiful” amount of compensation by Thai Courts.
Clive Garner, a Partner and travel law expert at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, leads the team representing Oliver Smart, a British man severely injured in the fire which occurred at a New Year party at the Sanitika nightclub in 2008. Garner says that although the victims will be relieved that those responsible have been jailed for their negligence, there are serious concerns about the very low amount of compensation that has was awarded.
He said: “The Court has ordered those responsible to pay 8.7 million baht (around £180,000) to the victims of the fire. We have no information as this early stage as to how this will be shared between the victims. This is a pitiful sum and is clearly insufficient to compensate those who have suffered serious injuries and the dozens of families who lost loved ones in this terrible incident. Even the costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation alone will significantly exceed this sum. We are very concerned about the injustice of the award and how this could affect the recovery of victims.
“There are also concerns about the amount of insurance cover and the assets of those liable for the disaster, to satisfy any further civil claims. If this is the case then we will be pressing the Thai authorities to discuss alternative arrangements for all those that were injured and the families of those that were tragically killed in the incident.
“We will continue to investigate all available avenues in seeking to obtain full and fair financial compensation for Mr Smart so that he can make the best possible recovery from his injuries.”
Oliver Smart, 35, from Millhouses, Sheffield, was enjoying the New Year’s Eve celebrations with his girlfriend at the nightclub when fire started. Mr Smart was treated for serious burns to his body, face, hands and back in Thailand. He has since undergone extensive treatment at the Burns Unit of Northern General Hospital in Sheffield and is expected to be on constant medication for the rest of his life. He also has to wear special burns compression garments under his clothes. He suffered severe burns and was taken to intensive care..
It is understood the fire was started by fireworks set off inside the club while a rock band was playing. The fire quickly ignited the ceiling causing of toxic smoke to spread before the whole nightclub was ablaze. Mr Smart was lucky enough to be pulled out by the emergency services, which were called to the club. He and three other Britons were injured in the blaze.
Two people were jailed in Thailand for negligence which led to the fire .The nightclub’s owner Wisuk Sejsawat was sentenced to three years in prison, as was Boonchu Laosrinak who was responsible for the fireworks at the club. The court acquitted four other people in connection with the case, including the lead singer of the band playing at the time of the fire.
Mr Smart commented: “The fire spread so very quickly and flames engulfed the club. Everybody was terrified and desperately trying to find a way out. It has been a devastating experience for my whole family. I have spent months in hospital and I am likely to be on medication for the rest of my life.
“I’m relieved that at last someone is going to be held accountable for what happened. I was worried that no action would be taken but hopefully now people realise the importance of health and safety measures and regulations, and measures will be out in place to prevent anything like this from happening again.
“However, it is disappointing to see how much those responsible have been asked to pay the victims. My own claim for my injuries has been valued at around the same amount that the Court has ordered to be paid in total to all of the victims and the families of those that died.”
Garner added: “This is a truly tragic case. While it will be of some relief to the victims to see those responsible brought to justice, the fight to enable victims to receive full and fair compensation including the treatment and rehabilitation they deserve now continues. 66 people died and one hundred more were seriously injured in this incident. Had proper safety precautions been taken this terrible incident could have been avoided."
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