Obtaining fair compensation for holidaymakers who are injured abroad can pose real difficulties. The case of a pensioner who was reduced to a shadow of his former self following a road accident in Spain, however, showed that English lawyers are well equipped to rise to the challenge.
The extremely fit and healthy 69-year-old and his wife were staying at their holiday villa in Spain when he was knocked off his bicycle by an uninsured motorist who was on the wrong side of the road and who did not stop. He suffered catastrophic head and other injuries which rendered him partially sighted and unable to walk without a stick. Robbed of his zest for life, his horizons have since narrowed dramatically and he is essentially trapped in his home.
After proceedings were launched in this country, on the man's behalf, against the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) – the body responsible for compensating victims of negligent drivers who are uninsured – a judge ruled after a contested trial that the motorist was 100 per cent to blame for the accident.
Although the proceedings took place in England and were conducted by English lawyers before an English judge, the location of the accident and the nationality of the motorist meant that the pensioner's compensation had to be calculated in accordance with Spanish law.
After familiarising himself with the Spanish Civil Code – which takes a fundamentally different, and in many ways more restrictive, approach to compensating personal injury victims than that applied under English law – the judge found that the man had been absolutely and permanently incapacitated by his injuries. The MIB was ordered to pay him £539,096 in damages.