My son missed a flight from Heathrow because of a crash on the motorway. The bus he was travelling on was hours late. Who bears financial responsibility and what should one do if an accident causes one to miss a flight? Matt D
Legally speaking, there are two possible avenues to consider – neither of which is likely to be very productive.
First, if a driver can be found negligent for causing the accident, you might imagine your son has a claim against his or her insurer, but such a claim is not likely to succeed. The reason is, there was no injury to your son, nor damage to property he owned. That is the test the courts set.
Next, could there be a breach of contract claim against the bus company for failing to get him to the airport at the specified time? I have been looking at the terms and conditions for National Express. They say: “We recommend you allow at least 180 minutes between the service scheduled arrival time and your flight departure time.”
Your son may have allowed the recommended three hours, but even though he did, the firm warns: “We will not be responsible for costs caused by circumstances beyond our control.”
Had the driver failed to “provide the service with reasonable skill and care”, for example by getting lost, then a claim under the Consumer Rights Act might be possible. However, I sense the driver was in full control and was unable to get to the airport because of the closure of the motorway.
As one of the lawyers I talked to said: “You would usually expect someone to take out travel insurance to cover this type of loss.”
I hope this applies to your son.