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Holiday Accident and Injury Complaint

Ryanair concedes liability for passenger injury – was there mental and emotional distress too?

Holiday Accident and Illness Claims Specialist Claire Rabbetts

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Dated: 29th February 2016

Ryanair is facing a lawsuit brought by a passenger who was hurt by a falling bottle following a flight from Italy.

The 40 year-old, a student psychiatric nurse, told the High Court she was injured when a liquor bottle fell from an overhead locker shortly after the aircraft landed at Dublin.

"Blood pooled on the seat"

Airplance accident complaint

The claimant, who had been celebrating her birthday in Rome with her husband, was forced to cancel a second party at home in Ringsend.

The bottle, which was in a plastic bag, is understood to have been jolted free by a fellow passenger retrieving his own luggage.

The High Court heard that the bottle hit the claimant's nose, causing a substantial amount of blood to pool on the seat beside her.

When called to the airport, ambulance medics advised the claimant that because she was a nurse trainee, she was capable of monitoring her injury at home. However, they warned her that she would probably experience headaches and black eyes.

The court heard that, after the incident, the mother of 2 continued to suffer serious headaches for some months and that she is still distressed by the facial scarring.

Claimant seeks compensation for disfigurement

The claimant added that her injury had inhibited her exam studies and had continued to be an issue until the following Christmas.

Although her nose was left with a "slight scar", the claimant is pressing for compensation for mental and emotional distress. While the judge acknowledged an initial scarring of up to 2cm, he did not agree this was disfiguring.

When cross-examined, the claimant concurred that no evidence could be brought to support a broken or fractured nose. However, she disagreed that the scar could only be seen when closely inspected.

"Not a normal personal injury case"

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Noting that Ryanair has conceded responsibility for its passenger's injury, Claire Rabbetts, Holiday Accident Claims Specialist at Simpson Millar LLP, said this is not a normal case of personal injury.

"It was brought under the Montreal Convention, which governs the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo," Claire said.

"Now a legal dispute has belatedly arisen over whether the judge, in making any compensation award, should take account of mental and emotional distress to the claimant.

"The low-cost airline will know soon whether distress and upset caused will be considered by the court as part of the current case, and how this will affect any compensation claim."

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