Accidents often happen on holidays, but it used to be difficult to secure compensation. Some comfort is afforded to families travelling abroad under the Package Holidays (Trade and Travel ) Act 1995 where in S (20) it states that a defendant travel company owes its customers a duty of reasonable skill and care in performing its contract obligations and can be liable if found in breach.
A family brought its three year old on holidays with them to Tenerife on a package holiday purchased from Sunway Travel.
The father injured his hand on a ceiling fan that was fixed too low and complained to reception to no avail. They told him they had no alternative room when he raised the issue again a day later. A few days later he lifted his child up and the fan hit the back of the child’s head requiring stitches.
The father sued but appealed the Circuit Court’s dismissal of his claim. Expert evidence established that the fan was fixed too low and was a hazard and the father had complained twice about this to reception with no success. The hotel had not disclosed that there was in fact another room which they could have moved to thereby avoiding the child’s injury.
The High Court found that there was a clear breach of Sunway’s duty of care to the plaintiff. The father had twice complained about the fan and an accident was therefore foreseeable. If the family had been moved to another room, the accident would not have happened.
The child was awarded €8,500 in damages by the High Court and the father was refunded €3,596 being cost of the holiday.
It might be useful to point out, as an adjunct to the above High Court decision, that if the family had arranged the holiday themselves without any agent, they would not have secured compensation unless they issued proceedings against the hotel in Spain where the level of damages is quite low.