We are all responsible for our own health and safety. For the most part this fact goes without saying, whether we are working in the kitchen with sharp knives, climbing a steep flight of stairs or cycling on busy roads.
However, there are some situations in which we entrust parties other than ourselves with a certain level of responsibility for our health and safety. This could, for example, be when we choose to fly – in this situation we have every expectation that the airline will properly train staff and maintain aircraft – or, as another example, when we eat in a restaurant – in this situation we have every right to expect kitchen staff will take reasonable steps to ensure good food hygiene.
Going on holiday and duty of care
The same principles apply when we embark on a package tour holiday or travel arrangement; although we accept that we are of course responsible for looking after ourselves, we also have a reasonable expectation that those we have entrusted to transport, accommodate, feed and entertain us will do so to a professional level. In short, package tour operators have a duty of care, a fact that is made explicit in the Package Travel Regulations.
Yet, we must always remember, even when we are on a package holiday, however "looked after" or mollycoddled we might feel, responsibility for our health and safety does not rest solely with the tour operator; as individuals, we must also take all reasonable steps to look after both ourselves and our family members.
One case that neatly illustrates this is Brannan v Airtours PLC.
The cases listed below usefully illustrate some of the issues of duty of care.
Brannan v Airtours PLC
In Brannan v Airtours PLC the claimant participated in a tour operator-organised party which involved the consumption of "free and unlimited alcohol". During the event the claimant struck his head on a ceiling fan while climbing on a table. As a result he sustained a pretty nasty head injury. Airtours were found to have a duty of care, not least because they were providing him with an amount of alcohol sufficient enough to impair his judgement. However, given the particular circumstances of the night and the decisions made by the claimant, he was ruled to be 50% to blame for the accident and his award of holiday accident compensation was reduced accordingly.
Roberts v Ibero Travel Ltd
The case of Roberts v Ibero Travel Ltd is another that provides useful illustration on issues related to duty of care and liability. The claim was made by the family of a six-year-old boy who sustained a serious brain injury as a result of being left in a swimming pool, under the supervision of only his nine-year-old brother, despite being unable to swim. As a result he became submerged, nearly drowned, and sustained a serious brain injury.
In deciding the case the court ruled that the tour operator (through the hotel) was primarily liable because the pool shelved too steeply and, contrary to Spanish Regulations, there was no life guard in attendance. However, the parents were found to be partly negligent and were found to be 50% to blame.
Package Travel Regulations claims
The standard of care in Tour Package Regulations cases is assessed by reference to local standards of the place where the holiday took place. British Safety Standards are not relevant.
Thompsons Solicitors has dealt with many claims for compensation made under the Package Travel Regulations. Contact us if you have had an accident on holiday, and one of our specialist personal injury lawyers will let you know if you have a valid compensation claim.
Call us on 0800 0891331 and take your first step towards compensation.