£6,500 Damages for Teen Following Fountain Spill at Holiday Hotel

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A Belfast teenager whose nose was broken due to an accident in a Spanish hotel has received compensation from First Choice.

This is the fountain where the accident took place

The boy, 14 years old at the time, was with his parents, his grandmother and his 3 siblings when the incident occurred in August 2010.

The family had barely begun their £2,828 stay at the Holiday Village Benalmedena when the teenager slipped on a wet floor surface beside a reception area fountain.

"The floor was wet because children were free to play on the sides of the fountain and splash water," Simpson Millar's James Blower said. "The boy's nose was broken, which required surgery once the family were back in Northern Ireland."

Floor beside fountain was wet

The accident happened whilst the family were checking-in on the first day of the holiday.

"We were at the reception desk behind about 10 people," our client's mother said. "My son suddenly slipped on water on the floor next to the fountain."

"He fell forward, hitting his face. The accident happened so quickly that he had no chance to put his hands out in front of him to protect himself. He was bleeding profusely from his mouth and nose and I immediately thought that he had broken his nose."

The IT tutor added: "There were no warning or wet floor signs around the fountain area alerting people to the danger."

Our client's mother asked First Choice's holiday rep for some ice. "The rep explained that they were not allowed to administer ice to any injuries."

The rep acknowledged that it was First Choice's responsibility to ensure children did not climb on the fountain. However, he said that enforcing the rule often caused problems with parents and it was hard to keep children away.

NO fracture, said local doctor

On the rep's suggestion, the family attended a Spanish private hospital, where a local doctor asserted that the boy's nose had not been fractured.

"However, by the time the family got home to Northern Ireland, the teenager's nose was still badly swollen," James said. "They were referred to an ENT clinic, where a specialist doctor immediately confirmed that the boy's nose was broken and he needed immediate surgery."

Rhinoplasty needed

James noted that, although the teenager underwent a straightening procedure, his nose was still not completely straight. "The family were advised that he might need further surgery to rectify the shape of his nose."

"After the initial medical report, further medical evidence was recommended to ascertain whether he would require rhinoplasty surgery to fix any deformity," James said.

"Once he turned 18 he was able to give instructions himself and the settlement of £6,500 did not need court approval."

Example to others

James said the incident stands as an example to others about how easily disaster can strike when abroad.

"Standards of safety are different in other countries and holidaymakers must remember that they are not always as stringent as they are in the UK," he said. "The injury could have been much worse and might have happened to a child much younger than our client."

Sidelined for weeks after injury

James concluded that the accident ruined the holiday for the teenager and his family. "Since the accident and his surgery, the young man was unable to ride his mountain bike or take part in any contact sports until at least 6 weeks after his surgery."

"He's a very keen cyclist and rides his bicycle on a daily basis. He has greatly missed not being able to pursue this."

"Accident was preventable"

Our client's mother praised Simpson Millar's "excellent professional staff and service... would highly recommend". James was "very informative... answering all queries and concerns effectively".

However, she expressed anger with First Choice over the preventable accident to her son.

"The First Choice office at the hotel was directly in front of the fountain and staff failed repeatedly to stop children playing and climbing on the fountain," she said.

"First Choice did not take any measures to rope off the fountain or put up warning signs alerting people to the wet floor or the dangers of climbing on the fountain. This was still the case when we came to leave the resort seven days later, our holiday ruined."

"We thought First Choice was a reputable and well respected holiday company."


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