My client was part of a nursery day trip to a local ski centre. The group were to take part in tobogganing.
The group were shown to the smaller slope and supervised by one member of staff who showed them how to descend the slope in rows of 2 or 3.
After a few supervised goes on the slopes, the children were then allowed to descend whenever they wanted as the only staff member was also tasked with hosing the slope to keep it wet and checking on children at the foot of the slope.
On one occasion, my 6 year old client who was toboganning for the fir time, had walked back to the top to have another go. However, one of the other children pulled him along with him, causing him to descend when he had not intended to. Unfortunately, another child who had descended just before had come to a halt part way down the slope and my client collided into the back of her and, in doing so, suffered a double leg fracture of both the fibula and tibia.
The ski centre denied liability on the basis that adequate supervision and training was provided at all times. Therefore, we instructed a technical expert in ski sports safety to consider the circumstances, assess the supervision provided and report on whether or not the ski centre had breached its duty to properly supervise the children.
The technical expert was in no doubt that the ski centre had breached its duty of care in failing to provide a high enough ratio of supervisors to children. Furthermore, he stated that the multiple tasks that the one supervisor had to perform compromised the effectiveness of the level of supervision required. In his opinion, a supervisor should have been present at the top of the slope at all times taking into account the young age and inexperience of the children and, if a supervisor, had have been present at the top of the slope, this accident would not have occurred.
Expert evidence was then obtained from an orthopaedic surgeon and a psychiatrist. Damages were also claimed to cover the loss of earnings suffered and additional time spent by the child’s parents in caring for him and attending him whilst in hospital.
The ski centre’s insurer initially offered compensation of £19,000 but, after further negotiations, we were able to recover £27,500. This settlement was then approved by the County Court with some of the compensation being paid in to the child’s own savings account and the majority of the balance then being paid into the Court Funds Office, where the money will be invested on the child’s behalf so that, when he turns 18, he can apply for the release of what will be a very significant sum of money indeed.