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Compensation For Tourist Burned In Portuguese Restaurant

We’ve secured compensation for a holidaymaker who suffered serious burns and needed three skin grafts after an unattended candle set fire to her dress in a Portuguese restaurant.

Our client, GBM, was on holiday with her husband in Maderia, Portugal, in the summer 2009. One evening they decided to go for an evening meal together at the Armazem Do Sal, a local restaurant.  After dinner, she went to use the bathroom before they left: she was surprised to see candles on the floor but assumed this was the custom in Portugal. As she walked past, however, her dress went up in flames.

She ran out of the bathroom screaming. One of the staff was eventually able to douse the fire with a fire extinguisher – but not in time to save her from the serious burns to her legs, arms and back. She was rushed to hospital in severe pain, where the doctors fought to save her life.

Our client was then evacuated to the UK for specialist burns care.  She was diagnosed as having suffered 25 – 30% burns to her arms and legs, and underwent three skin graft operations.

She got in touch with us to help her make a claim for compensation. The pain she was already suffering was further amplified by the restaurant’s refusal to accept responsibility for a long time. It was only when we began legal proceedings in Portugal itself that the case was able to move forwards. Even then, allowance had to be made for the fact that the legal system in the country is slower than the UK system.

Days before our client was due to fly out to attend the trial, the restaurant made an offer for a settlement. After a long legal battle, and still recovering from the effects of her injuries, our client spoke of her relief.

She said: "I am extremely grateful to Irwin Mitchell and their agents for achieving a settlement in this case: the settlement was much higher than I had expected". 

As well as compensating her pain and suffering, the settlement allows her to access any rehabilitative care and therapy she may need to help her make the best recovery possible.

Our client GBM was represented by Debbie Manders in our International Personal Injury team. When she took on the case, Debbie obtained the help of a lawyer in Portugal, which helped move things forwards and allowed the team to secure the final settlement from the restaurant. 

Speaking about the case, she said: “Claims in foreign jurisdictions can be slow, but the moral of this story is to never give up, as we will always fight for our clients to get justice”.

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