Expert Serious Injury Lawyers Urge Investigation After 13 Britons Injured in Alps Coach Crash

Survivor of previous French coach crash says incident ‘brings back painful memories’


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

Expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have called for an urgent investigation and improvements in safety measures after a coach carrying 32 British holidaymakers, who were due to fly back to Manchester and Southampton airports, crashed in the Alps near Chambery in the south of France.

The specialist serious injury solicitors were joined in their call by their client, ski instructor Steve Ratherham, who was seriously injured in a similar coach crash in France three years ago and said the news of the latest incident had brought back ‘painful memories’. 

His comments came after a coach carrying the British tourists skidded off a motorway near the village of Sainte-Helene-du-Lac on Sunday (4 January). Local police confirmed 13 people were taken to hospital following the crash, while other passengers were examined close to the scene. 

Reports suggest the holidaymakers had left the Alpine ski resort of La Rosière Montvalezan and crashed on the A43 motorway.
Expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell represent victims of coach crashes around the World including 25 British school children and adults seriously injured in a fatal coach crash in Chalons En Champagne, 90 miles east of Paris, France in February 2012 on their return journey to Alvechurch Middle School in the West Midlands following a skiing trip. They have expressed concerns relating to the latest coach crash and have repeated calls for improved safety measures for coach journeys.  
The driver of the coach which was carrying the children from Alvechurch Middle School is due to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter at court in Chalons en Champagne, France in March 2015. 

Irwin Mitchell said this latest coach crash has clear parallels with the Alvechurch school crash and confirmed that the cause of the accident must be identified as soon as possible, not least so that lessons can be learnt to improve coach safety in the future.

Clive Garner, Head of International Personal Injury and Group Actions at Irwin Mitchell, who has represented hundreds of victims of bus and coach crashes in the UK and around the world including the USA, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, South Africa and Germany, said: 
Expert Opinion
The first priority is to ensure those injured are provided with the treatment and care they need. At the same time it is also vitally important that any measures that can be implemented to prevent incidents like this in the future are identified and acted upon.

“It is crucial that the exact cause of this shocking accident is thoroughly investigated as soon as possible. No doubt the investigation by the French police will already have commenced already and it is likely that an investigating judge will also be appointed. As well as seeking to determine exactly what caused the coach to leave the road, a decision will also be made as to whether any one will face any criminal charges in respect of the incident. If there criminal charges are made, the full criminal process in France following an accident of this kind can be a drawn out procedure.“

“While it is too early to understand the exact cause of this crash, we know from our experience in many previous coach crashes around the world that relevant factors may include driver fatigue, failure to drive at a safe speed and failure to adapt to adverse weather conditions.“

“We have repeatedly called for improvements in coach safety including improved driver training, monitoring and supervision, and the provision of adequate rest breaks and adequate rest facilities for drivers. It is vital that the industry takes steps to further improve passenger safety, particularly on long haul coach journeys, and that any lessons that can be learned from this latest crash lead to positive improvements and reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future.”
Clive Garner, Partner
Ski instructor Steve Ratherham, from Yardley Wood in Birmingham, suffered serious injuries to his back, ribs and chest after travelling on the Alvechurch-bound coach, said: “It brings back painful memories of what happened when our coach crashed. 

“I hope that the victims of this latest crash are OK and that they seek out the expert help that is available to them but it’s worrying that this crash has happened in such similar circumstances. If anything can be learnt from these coach crashes, then the authorities need to do everything they can to ensure this is the last incident of this nature that we hear about.”

If you or a loved one has suffered an accident or illness abroad as the result of a road traffic accident while on holiday, we could help you to claim the compensation you deserve. See our Road Traffic Accident Abroad Claims page for more information.