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Solicitors are not easily intimidated and are well able to defend their clients against groundless accusations. In one case that proved the point, a grandmother won over £30,000 in damages after defeating claims that she was drunk and wearing unsuitable footwear when she suffered a serious fall whilst holidaying on a Greek island.
The woman, in her 60s, was on the final day of a two-week package holiday when she fell down a flight of steps that led to a pool at the hotel where she was staying. She suffered facial injuries and a badly broken arm. The accident also had serious psychiatric consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
In defending her claim, the hotel's owners argued that she was so drunk before the fall that she could barely stand up and that she was wearing inappropriate heeled shoes. In rejecting arguments that she was wholly to blame for her own misfortune, however, a judge found that she had been wearing flat-soled sandals and had not had a drop of alcohol to drink on the night of the accident.
The judge ruled that she was 25 per cent responsible for her fall because she had not paid proper attention to where she was putting her feet. However, he found that the primary cause of the accident was the absence of a handrail from the right-hand side of the staircase. Had there been a handrail, there would have been no accident. The tour operators through which she booked her holiday were ordered to pay her £33,750 in damages. The judge, however, ruled that they could recoup that sum from the owners of the hotel.