Expert Travel Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell Secure Access to Rehabilitation Support
A girl who fractured her leg in a skiing accident has won her battle for justice, as lawyers secured a substantial five-figure settlement to help cover the costs of her future medical care, rehabilitation and recovery.
Northern Irish student Rona McKnight was just 11-years-old when she was booked onto beginner skiing lessons for children for her first time on the slopes at the Soldeu el Tarter ski resort, Andorra.
After only four days of lessons, the ski instructor took the class to the top section of the steep “Guineu” piste. Unfortunately for Rona, the ground was particularly icy on that day, and she was unable to stop with the rest of the group on the way down the piste. Half way down, Rona lost control, gained speed, and eventually hit an unprotected metal post at the bottom of the slope.
She suffered various fractures to her left femur, one of which permeated the skin on her thigh. As a result, Rona has been left with a shortened left leg, as well as permanent scarring where the bone broke through her thigh.
Specialist travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who work with many people injured in accidents abroad, secured Rona a substantial five-figure settlement from the tour operator, Panorama Holiday Group Limited, just days before a court trial was due to begin.
The funds will help cover the costs of the treatment and rehabilitation support Rona has received so far, and will pay for further surgery which Rona will need in future.
Expert Opinion"This was an accident on foreign ski slopes which left a young girl with several injuries.
"We have fought on Rona’s behalf for damages to help with her recovery and for the further surgery she needs to reduce her scarring. Thankfully, Rona has now been able to begin to move on with her life and is now looking forward to the future as she finalises her degree at Queen’s University, Belfast.
"Rona should never have been put into the situation she was in. It was not a safe environment for a beginner skier, and sadly, Rona has suffered injuries because of the negligent actions of the tour operator’s service providers.
"Sadly, during the ski season, many people suffer injuries on the slopes, and these accidents can change their lives forever. We urge anyone carrying out winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing, to be extra vigilant, to remain aware of others and their surroundings, and to try and help as many people as possible avoid serious injuries." Jennifer Lund - Partner
Rona’s aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Rice, from Bangor in County Down, took Rona on the skiing holiday. Because Rona had never skied before, they made sure to book beginner ski lessons for her as part of the package holiday provided by Panorama Holidays.
Rona, 19, from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, said: “I was so scared. I wasn’t keen on going to the top section of the mountain anyway, as it was my first time skiing, but the instructor wanted to take us. On the way down I just couldn’t stop on the ice as it was too steep, and I hit a metal post at the bottom of the slope which was not surrounded by any barriers or padding, and was just covered in orange plastic netting.”
Rona was treated at the Nostra Senyora De Meritxell Hospital in Andorra for 12 days, before being repatriated by air ambulance to Ulster Hospital, in Belfast, where she stayed for two months.
She needed surgery to stabilise her fractures and then further surgery to remove the metalwork from her thigh. Rona also had skin grafts and physiotherapy. Although Rona has been left with a leg-length discrepancy and scarring, she prefers not to dwell on this, and is now very much focusing upon her future.
Rona added: “It was just horrible having to spend all that time in hospital and having surgery so many times. I’ve also been left with scarring, but thanks to the settlement, once I’ve finished university, I can now have the further treatment I need.
“I would urge anyone going skiing to take care on the slopes, as serious injuries can change your life. I also hope that any ski instructors will make sure that their students are ready for the various slopes they are taking them on, as I was obviously pushed too far.”