Woman receives 5-figure settlement after dislocating her shoulder on a cruise
Our client, a 57-year-old meditation teacher, was travelling on a cruise with her partner which was visiting Japan, South Korea and China. The cruise was booked with RCL cruises.
Our client was playing table tennis with her partner on one of the interior decks, when she went to retrieve the ball, which had rolled away at the end of a rally. As she bent to pick the ball up, she slipped and fell on a patch of grease on the floor. This led to her falling and sustaining a fractured dislocation to her right shoulder.
Following her injury, our client received initial treatment on board the ship. When she returned home, she also received physiotherapy. Unfortunately, despite the treatment, she developed a ‘frozen shoulder’, which resulted in ongoing restrictions in her range of movement.
The effects of the accident also led to our client developing psychological symptoms, for which Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was recommended. She was unable to undertake domestic chores for many weeks. Our client is a keen gardener, but the shoulder injury impacted her ability to tend her garden as she had done before the accident, therefore causing a great deal of upset. The weakness in her shoulder also prevented her carrying her young grandson – something that was also very distressing.
The claim was brought under the Athens Convention, which is a multilateral convention which governs the liability of cruise lines when passengers are injured during international sea travel. The UK is a signatory to the convention. Under the convention, our client was able to sue the defendant cruise company in the English Courts, and English law applied to the claim.
We alleged that the defendant cruise line was negligent by failing to operate a reasonable system of cleaning and inspection on the boat. The defendant denied liability for the accident, arguing that they did have a reasonable cleaning policy in place. At the same time as denying liability, they also made a ‘without prejudice’ settlement offer (meaning the trial judge can’t be told the offer has been made) in the sum of £4,000 to our client.
Our expert team, headed up by Fletchers’ Associate Solicitor Michael Hagan, advised our client that, despite the denial, we felt she had a strong case. This was because we had good evidence that the substance on the floor had resulted in her slipping, and the defendants hadn’t produced any documentary evidence to support the cleaning policy that they said was in operation.
As well as this, we also knew that if our client succeeded on liability, the nature of her injuries meant she was guaranteed to recover substantially more than the defendant had offered. We advised the client to reject the offer, as it was too low. She accepted our advice and the case continued.
Further issues arose within the case – most notably the time limitation on the claim was due to expire. This was because, in Athens Convention cases, there is only a two-year period in which to make the claim, as opposed to the three-years in most other accident claims in English law. However, we were able to agree with the defendant to extend the time for her to bring her claim. This isn’t something which can normally be done in a personal injury case, but the Athens convention contains a specific provision which allows this, if both parties agree.
In the extra time we had following the agreement, we were able to negotiate an excellent five figure settlement of our client’s case. The settlement saved her from the stress and hassle of having to issue court proceedings and vindicated her decision to reject the original offer – despite the defendant having denied liability.