Mediterranean sunshine and sandy beaches attract millions of British holidaymakers every year, but swimming in the sea can be hazardous. In a case on point, a woman who was struck by a yacht tender and badly injured whilst swimming off the coast of a Greek island secured the right to substantial compensation.
The woman would probably have died from multiple head, internal and orthopaedic injuries had she not received swift medical treatment. She at first had no recollection of the accident and her memory only returned when she was in hospital after being flown home to England. She launched proceedings against the driver of a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) which was in the area at the time and the company that employed him as skipper of the motor yacht it served.
Upholding the woman's claim, the High Court rejected defence arguments that she had been hit by another unidentified boat or that she had been injured whilst jumping into the sea from rocks. Her recovered memories of what happened were not the product of unreliable after-the-event reconstruction. The driver of the RIB had not seen her or been aware that he had struck her, but he had nevertheless done so.
Although it was high summer and the driver should have known that swimmers were likely to be in the water, he failed to keep a proper lookout. The excessive speed at which he was travelling contributed to the severity of the woman's injuries. As his employer, the company was also ruled indirectly liable to compensate her in full. In the absence of agreement, the amount of her damages award – which is bound to be substantial – will be assessed at a further hearing.