It has been reported in the last few days that a hotel in Bath was fined £10,000 following a fall by a two year old girl from a first floor window.
The child suffered a fractured skull and spent 5 days in a specialist hospital head injuries unit, following the fall in July 2011. Her family had been attending a wedding celebration, taking place at the hotel, when her father had taken her up to the bar area. As they were stood near a large pair of open double doors, she slipped through the two horizontal bars which were in place to prevent falls, and fell almost 10 feet onto the wooden decking below.
Bath and North East Somerset Council's senior trading standards officer, Robin Wood, confirmed that there were inadequate safety measures in place at the window, saying " .. the hotel has accepted they had a duty of care towards people not in their employment. They didn't take reasonable and necessary steps to prevent an accident like this from happening".
The Old Mill pleaded guilty at Bath Magistrates' Court to two health and safety charges, and expressed considerable regret for the incident. Representatives of the hotel confirmed that following the accident, a pane of glass had been fitted over the metal bars, which had satisfied the Council's health and safety requirements. The Council's senior environmental health officer went on record to say that the Council felt that the accident was entirely foreseeable, and could have been prevented by the hotel following published guidance on window safety.
The maximum fine possible for the two charges levied at the hotel was £40,000, but their representative confirmed that given the recession, the hotel was struggling anyway, and such a fine would have severe financial implications on the business. Magistrates fined the hotel, a limited company, £10,000 plus almost £2000 towards the Council's costs, and a victim surcharge. The hotel made an agreement to repay the sum in instalments.
Whilst certain issues were raised in respect of the adequacy of parental supervision in this case, it is inevitable that sometimes parents will take their eyes off their children, and children being children, they will want to "explore". Therefore, venues such as the hotel in this case, which do invite children onto their premises, must ensure that all recommended safety advice is followed to reduce any risks to the absolute minimum.
Should you, or any member of your family suffer an accident, then Stephensons have a dedicated team of professionals who can assist in pursuing your claim. Call us on 0845 144 1441.
By personal injury executive, Pauline Smith