Compensation from injury whilst on holiday in paradise

PUBLISHED 18 Oct 2013

In 2008 our client and her partner were on holidays at an island resort in Vanuatu. On the last day of the trip having packed to return home to Australia at about 4:30am, our client used the mini bus shuttle which took guest from their bureaus to reception. It was extremely dark at the time and the shuttle bus stopped beyond the normal pathway entrance to the reception area. Our client stepped off the bus and unfortunately into a section much lower then the roadside causing her to fall. As a result she suffered a serious fracture to her right leg.

She was treated in Vanuatu Hospital however, the serious nature of her injuries required her to return to Australia and receive treatment in our hospital system.

Prior to coming to our firm our client had seen a number of other compensation lawyers seeking advice on suing the resort and was given advice that she could not act as she would not win as the accident that occurred in a foreign country.

Our firm took instructions to act on behalf of our client. There is a number of ways to deal with these matters and there is always great difficulty pursuing matters in which the accident occurred in foreign countries.

We instigated investigations and were able to successfully establish that the owner of the resort had a company presence within Australia being a foreign registered company. Accordingly, we were able to commence proceedings in Australia and in particular New South Wales. This allowed the matter to continue with a local element and significantly reduce the potential costs which may have been occurred in this type of matter.

Proceedings were commenced against the occupier of the resort which had the Australian link. Proceedings were commenced on the basis of negligence by the resort which created a foreseeable and real risk of injury occurring to our client as a result of poor lighting in the area and dropping our client off in a dangerous position which she would not have been aware of due to the poor lighting. No costs to our client, our firm obtained extensive medical evidence dealing with our client’s serious injury and an expert engineer to comment on the lack of lighting and dangerous nature of the spot in which our client had fallen.

The matter was vigorously defended by the Australian lawyers for the resort and the matter was ultimately sat down for hearing.

An Informal Settlement Conference was organised and held with our client, our firm and Counsel. Whilst the international legal issues were discussed, in relation to the quantum or damages aspect of the matter as a result of our medical and expert evidence we were able to convince the defendant that we would be successful in proving negligence and the severity of the injury.

As a result of where the accident happened, this matter required an assessment for damages under that countries law. The matter in which damages was required to be assessed under the law of that country. The similarity can be described as a table relating to various injuries and accounts associated with those body parts. Similar in a way to tables used in worker’s compensation cases here in New South Wales in the past.

The amount also needed to be assessed in that foreign currency.

Notwithstanding the decrease value of the currency compared to the Australian currency we were able to successful settle the matter based on the amounts which were similar to settlements achieved for that type of injury within Australia.

The matter settled in excess of $140,000.00 in compensation.

The client was extremely happy with the result and appreciated the fact that we were able to keep legal costs to a lower level due to our investigations in establishing the Australian link allowing us to sue in New South Wales rather than commence proceedings in that foreign country.   

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