Injured Skier Takes Legal Action Following Severe Injury

The Need For Additional Safety Precautions Highlighted

19.02.2016

Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

A wife who booked a special holiday for her husband’s 40th birthday is taking legal action after suffering a severe knee injury ruining their skiing trip to Bulgaria. 

Gemma Adshead-Downs from Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, is seeking compensation for her pain and suffering and help with her recovery and rehabilitation after her holiday was ruined on just the second day, when it is alleged that her skis were bound too tightly to her boots, preventing the skis from releasing. 

Gemma, 34, was practicing going down the slope and making the snow plough manoeuvre. She took one turn and then another, but on the second turn her skis overlapped. It is alleged that the twisting of the skis should have caused the skies to release but the bindings did not come loose and caused her leg to twist and her knee ligaments to tear. 

The pain was so severe that the ski instructor had to remove Gemma’s skis for her whilst she was on the ground. She was then taken down the slope in a tractor and rushed straight to hospital.

Gemma was diagnosed with torn anterior cruciate ligaments. A metal pin and two prosthetic rods were inserted into her knee and when Gemma returned to the UK she had to wait for several weeks before her leg could be taken out of plaster and an MRI taken to determine the extent of her injury. She has since been referred to a consultant for physiotherapy and been told that her knee will never regain the ability to fully bend. She has been told that she will never be able to ski again.

Gemma booked the Balkan Holidays skiing trip through Thomas Cook. She booked the trip as a surprise for her husband’s milestone birthday but the injury ruined all their plans and Gemma was in hospital on the day of her husband’s birthday. As a result of the incident Gemma has instructed specialist international personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help recover compensation and funds for her treatment and to cover the costs of the ruined holiday. 

Nina Harrison, a specialist travel lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Gemma, said: “What was supposed to be a special holiday for a happily married couple quickly turned into a nightmare that Gemma is yet to recover from.

"Each year we represent many British skiers injured in accidents abroad and see the impact a serious injury can have both in the short and long term."

"In this case, Gemma had total trust in the equipment she was given, and thought everything had been set up correctly. Months later she has still not recovered from the injury and it’s unlikely that her knee will ever be the same again. 

"During the ski season we run a Safety on the Slopes campaign to help raise awareness of the potential dangers and to try and prevent injuries like this."

After the accident Gemma was off work for four months and she is currently undergoing a course of physiotherapy. 

She said: “I wanted to give my husband, Scott, a holiday to remember and it ended up being a disaster that I keep re-living, due to the constant pain and medical check-ups. 

“Instead of spending a week skiing, I ended up in agony at a Bulgarian hospital with some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt.  Not only did it ruin the trip, it cost me four months at work and I have had to deal with incredible pain in my knee.

“I hope to get compensation and financial assistance for my treatment and that this case acts as a reminder of the dangers that skiers face and that all ski holiday operators make sure they keep skiers safe during lessons, especially novice skiers.”

Irwin Mitchell have previously successfully represented other skiers whose bindings were incorrectly set and have produced an interactive Safety on the Slopes website as part of a campaign to help skiers prepare for their holidays on the slopes. The site can be viewed here.