An Edinburgh man has won £16k in damages after agonising' skiing injury in French Alps

A holidaymaker who suffered agonising injury in a skiing accident has been awarded £16,000 in damages after a 5-year nightmare that “never should have gone to trial.”

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 7:02 pm

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Paul Kirkwood had to be stretchered off a mountain in the French Alps after a couple blocked the track as he was going up on a tow lift with his wife Sheila.

Mr Kirkwood, from Edinburgh tried to move around them when the pair didn’t get out of the way but his ski caught in the bank at the side of the track.

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Paul and his wife Sheila skiing in the French Alps
Paul and his wife Sheila skiing in the French Alps

When he tried to release it the father-of-three suffered an agonising rupture to his anterior cruciate ligament, one of the four main banks of tissue that keeps the bones of a knee joint together.

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Mr Kirkwood said: “I was shocked to find two people standing together blocking the track who were seemingly oblivious to the danger they were presenting. It gave me a terrible fright. They were blocking most of the central tow which was very built up on either side with banks of snow. I immediately started shouting, ‘get off the poma’.”

"I worried that if I attempted to dismount, I would fall backwards given the steepness of the slope, and either I would be injured in that process, and/or, that I would form an obstacle for my wife and that she might be injured.

Paul Kirkwood says he is glad the ordeal is over

“I had no option but to try and ski around them but my ski stuck in the snowbank and fell.”

He was left with skis still jammed into the snow bank, lying on the poma track, unable to move and terrified other skiers would crash into him. When he tried to pull the ski out of the bank he said he heard a loud pop.

He added: “I had to be stretchered off the mountain and when I got to hospital it became clear how bad the tear was. The impact of my injuries has taken a long time to get over.”

The solicitor and mediator was flown back home to Edinburgh where he had reconstructive surgery and more than a year of rehabilitation therapy.

But the injury also triggered osteoarthritis leaving him suffering in permanent discomfort. He wasn’t able to ski again until two years after the accident and now has to wear a metal brace on the slopes.

At the trial in Birmingham, Judge Her Honour Judge Ingram accepted the argument by his lawyers Hugh James that the couple who blocked Mr Kirkwood while he was on the lift were going to attempt to ski down the track, against the rules.

The defendants lawyers argued they were clearly visible and that Mr Kirkwood should have got off the lift but the court ruled in his favour on 19 April 2021.

Paul said: “I’m glad this is over. It was outrageous of them to say it was my fault. I was incredibly relieved and not ashamed to say that I cried. It was a release from the stress of having the whole case hanging over me for five long years.”

Lawyers Hugh James said justice had been served in the long fought out case which should have never gone to trial.

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