London tourist who broke her spine in Spanish water taxi accident awarded £15,000 in damages

A general view of Fuerteventura  (Getty Images)
A general view of Fuerteventura (Getty Images)

A British tourist has been awarded a damages settlement of £15,000 after experiencing "excruciating" pain during a water taxi crossing in Spain which left her with a broken spine.

The woman, from London, was on holiday with her daughter and had enjoyed a calm crossing from Fuerteventura to the uninhabited island of Lobos before the weather turned and they battled massive waves on the return journey.

“It was absolutely horrendous, one of the worst experiences of my life,” the 54-year-old woman told MailOnline.

“The crossing in the morning was fine, and I must admit that at that point I'd not really been concerned as we were not given life jackets. It was a pleasant experience.

“However, when it was time to return, the sea was really rough. The captain struggled to get the boat to the area where we had to board.

“It must have taken him about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the steps where we were waiting.”

Once they were out to sea, she immediately felt uncomfortable with the 8ft high waves and the speed at which the captain was going.

“We went over a huge wave and I was thrown up into the air and I was slammed back down into my seat. I immediately felt the most excruciating pain in my back and I was completely unable to steady myself,” she recalled.

“Because I screamed out so loudly and was clearly in so much pain, he stopped the boat. But because the sea was so rough it felt like the boat was going to tip over, and that would have been me in the water, with a broken back and no life jacket.”

She was in a state of “complete panic” as she struggled to make her way to a hard seat at the front of the boat, which had a rope to hold onto.

“I still get flashbacks to that moment. I can remember my daughter trying to get to me and help me, and the boat rocking. I was fearing we'd all end up going overboard.”

Once back at Fuerteventura, she was taken to hospital by ambulance where she was told she had fractured her spine.

She returned to the water taxi company the following day, having been advised to ensure she had documentation detailing the accident, signed by the operators to confirm she had been injured on their boat.

She said: “I was told by a man who was working at the ferry port, who was from London, that even the ferries had not been out that afternoon because it was so dangerous, and when I thought back I couldn't remember seeing many other boats in the sea.

“He said that I had to get this form filled in and signed by the water taxi operators, and that if they refused to sign it, I should go to the police.”

When she returned home, the woman got in touch with injury claim specialists Hudgell Solicitors.

A claim for damages was made on her behalf against the boat trip operators, Fuertecharter, which is based in Corralejo, Las Palmas.

Solicitor Paul McClorry described the case as “challenging”, but they were able to secure compensation for the woman by serving Fuertecharter and their insurer with legal proceedings.

He added: “At times this was a hugely challenging case. That is often the case when people are injured on holidays which they have not organised through a package holiday specialist, which bring greater protection should something go wrong.

“In this case we had to commit significant legal resource and cost to bring it to a successful conclusion.

“This was a really good example of how the 'no win, no fee' legal agreement can really help people to fight for and secure justice. We had a team of specialist English and Spanish lawyers working on the case on my client's behalf.”