We recently represented an elderly American woman who unfortunately suffered multiple injuries whilst on holiday in the UK.

Our client was two days into a holiday that would take her and her friend to various destinations in Southern England, starting in London. Sadly the holiday came to an abrupt end while she travelled on a London red bus. She was seated on the upper deck of the bus and pressed the button to indicate she would like to get off at the next stop.

The bus had stopped at traffic lights, and our client and her friend began descending the stairs. Our client’s friend made it to the bottom of the stairs whilst she was standing at the top about to descend. The driver, without warning, suddenly pulled away with excessive speed and acceleration, which resulted in her being thrown down the stairs with some force. As a result, she suffered fractures to her ribs, shoulder, sternum and skull.

Aside from the fact that our client had returned to the USA and communication was limited to telephone and email, the case was complex in that:

  • Our client had a pre-existing back injury that needed input from experts in the USA and UK and the analysis of records from the USA;
  • The USA records were inconsistent with the records from the UK in part;
  • The defendant bus company denied liability, stating that our client was the author of her own misfortune due to an inappropriate approach to the staircase;
  • CCTV footage was available, but inconclusive for both parties in terms of determination of speed and the positioning of our client on the staircase;
  • The issue of ‘proportionality’ was an important consideration. To fully investigate the claim would require the potential input of forensic experts, CCTV, imaging experts and medical experts that may outweigh the value of the claim.

We sought a counsel’s opinion to support our ‘After the Event’ Insurance application, but he was not supportive of a claim against the bus company. Despite this, we strategically decided to secure limited expert evidence to keep costs at a minimum and steer the defendants into negotiating with us, to avoid issuing court proceedings unnecessarily. With the support of our forensic evidence, we argued the bus driver had breached his duty of care in pulling away dangerously, thereby causing the fall.

Ultimately, after extensive negotiations, we agreed a 50:50 contributory negligence split and secured an undisclosed six-figure sum for our client.

For more information

For advice and guidance about a personal injury claim, please contact Alex Hughes.