Solicitors Say Injured Britons Court Success Proves Lessons Must Be Learnt
Solicitors representing 24 British tourists injured when their coach crashed in Bulgaria say that lessons of safety must be learnt by tour operators after the judge ruled the crash was caused by driver errors.
The holidaymakers were on en-route from the airport to the ski resort of Borovets when the coach they were travelling left the road, drove down a bank and overturned. The passengers suffered multiple injuries that travel litigation experts from law firm Irwin Mitchell say could now lead to hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.
Crystal/TUI UK Limited, who provided the package holidays, claimed that the accident was caused by a strong gust of wind that blew the coach off the road but, following a three day trial at Birmingham County Court (09.11.09-11.11.09) were forced to accept liability.
Philip Banks from travel law specialist, Irwin Mitchell, which specialises in acting for the victims of coach crashes around the world, said of the Judgment today: “I am extremely pleased that the Judge, His Honour Judge Robert Owen QC, today found in favour of our clients on the basis that he considered the accident to have been caused by driver error.
“It is remarkable that the tour operator Crystal/TUI denied liability throughout and, despite our requests, refused to negotiate settlements for our clients before the trial. If they had done so this case could have been resolved years ago, giving our clients the damages they deserve and substantially reducing the legal costs, which the defendants have also been ordered to pay by the judge. We hope that they have learnt their lesson. "
Melissa Boylen (36), of Romford, Essex, said: “Justice has finally been done. Of course I am so very pleased with the result however it's been an emotional and physical journey for me and I only wish Crystal/TUI had not dragged this out for almost five years. At least now I finally have the chance to move on from all of this.
“I would like to say a big thank you to Katie Jones at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors for persevering and believing in us and for getting this deserved result for all the passengers on board the coach that day.”
Ronald Nethersole (42), of Seaton, Devon, said: “I am relieved that this is all over and that there has been a successful outcome. I, and the other passengers on the coach, have had to wait almost five years for answers and it is such a relief to know now that the driver was to blame for this accident.”
Anthony Wilkinson (41), of St Neots, Cambridgeshire, said: “I am so pleased with the result today, it is extremely good news for everyone involved in the accident. I feel that justice has finally been done. I am just disappointed that Crystal/TUI put every obstacle in our way during the last five years in an attempt to drag this matter on for so long. I am very grateful to Katie Jones at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who has fought very hard on behalf of all of the passengers on the coach to get this fantastic result.”
Mr Banks continued: “We represent dozens of British clients every year who have been seriously injured in coach accidents abroad. In the vast majority of cases, crashes are caused by either driver error or fault on the part of the tour operator or those that they have employed.
“In the light of so many previous coach crashes over the last decade, we have repeatedly called for stricter safety measures for coach travel to protect British and foreign tourists. This includes ensuring that tour companies and coach operators monitor and supervise drivers to ensure that they drive safely; ensuring that safe routes are chosen and that drivers do not take risks by driving in hazardous weather or other conditions. Too many Britons suffer serious injury on foreign roads each year. More clearly needs to be done now to reduce the risk of accidents involving coaches."
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.