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Case Study

Settlement for skier after negligent bindings proved to have caused serious leg fracture

Locations

United Kingdom

On holiday in Scotland, Tony booked a skiing lesson with the Lecht Ski School in preparation for a European skiing holiday later that year. He provided information in advance about his weight, shoe size and skier profile but when he and his family arrived, no equipment had not been prepared.

The ski school was disorganised and understaffed and did not appear to have the details provided to be able to allocate the correct equipment right away. After trying several pairs of boots and seeing a member of staff use a hammer to force his boots into his ski bindings, Tony received his equipment and was able to begin his lesson.

Having skied before with the military, Tony showed proficiency during his lesson and his instructor permitted him to ski alone for the rest of the day. When he re-joined his nephews later that afternoon they completed a slope together. At the bottom, Tony turned to watch his nephews come down but his skis became stuck in deep snow causing him to fall. Under the pressure of his fall, his left ski boot automatically released from the binding allowing his left leg to fall freely. However, his right boot did not release from its binding and, as his body rotated in the fall, his right leg remained fixed in position. Tony heard a loud crack as he hit the ground.

The ski school's first aiders arrived using a snowmobile. By profession, Tony is a global search and rescue expert with military and fire services experience, through which he has medical training. He informed the first aiders that he had most likely fractured his leg but, despite his advice, the first aiders chose not to fix Tony's injured leg in position or put him on a stretcher before transporting him down the mountain on the back of the snowmobile.

From the ski school Tony's wife drove him to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. X-ray imaging later showed that he had suffered a complex spiral fracture damaging his right tibia and fibula. Due to his leg being placed in plaster cast, he was prevented from boarding his commercial flight home to South West England, requiring him instead to charter a private flight at great expense in order to avoid a 16-hour car journey in a cast.

Back home, Tony made a reasonable recovery with the help of intense physiotherapy and acupuncture. However, his memories of the accident affected his otherwise fast paced life. As CEO and co-founder of his own Search and Rescue company, Tony's ability to travel abroad and participate in rescue projects was curtailed.

After his physical recovery, he found that the psychological impact of his fracture caused a reduction in his previously large risk-appetite. He participated far less in work-related activity as well as in his frequent skydives and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

On instructing Mark Bowman and Henry Kirwan, the Ski School denied any liability for the malfunction Tony's right ski binding, arguing instead that the accident was merely part of skiing. With the assistance of eminent experts in ski safety, Mark and Henry produced evidence to show that the release mechanism technology in Tony's ski binding was designed decades before to prevent spiral fractures from occurring. It was argued therefore that negligently maintained bindings was the only plausible explanation for why Tony's right ski boot failed to detach.

One month before trial on the question of why the right ski binding failed, the defendant agreed to a five-figure settlement to conclude Tony's claim. The compensation went some way to remedy the loss Tony suffered, including the cost of his treatment and changes to his lifestyle.

Following settlement, Tony said:

"I found the services of Fieldfisher to be professional, respectful and kind in equal measures. Mark and Henry were really communicative, supportive and able to work with me to resolve this issue. My work/life is incredibly busy and I know that they worked hard to minimise the impact of the case upon me. The Barrister (in Scotland) whom they instructed was great. Another lovely professional to work with. I highly recommend Fieldfisher."

Contact us

For further information about sport injury claims or personal injury claims, please call Mark Bowman on 020 7861 4043 or email mark.bowman@fieldfisher.com or call Henry Kirwan on 0330 460 6766 or email henry.kirwan@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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