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Personal Injury

Tourist injured in ‘shocking’ staircase fall on India package holiday

A trip of a lifetime to India was ruined for a retired holidaymaker whose fall on hotel stairs left her with a catalogue of injuries.

08 February 2024

Margaret James*, 78, had visited India during her working life and had always wanted to return to see more of the country.

However, her much-anticipated trip – a package holiday geared around relaxation – was left in tatters when only three days into the 15-day visit, she fell down some marble stairs, which were poorly designed, badly lit and were, in places, missing a handrail.

The pensioner was left with fractures to her spine and ribs, and extensive bruising to her left arm and leg, which caused significant pain. Her pain continues even now, almost four years on from the incident in November 2019.

While her package tour operator, Newmarket Holidays, offered little assistance other than to ask if she wanted to end her trip and return to the UK, Margaret decided to stay – although confesses most of the remaining 12 days were “a blur” due to the strong painkillers she was prescribed by local medics.

“I had looked forward to going back to India for years, because when you’re working you rarely see more than the office and the hotel – but after what happened, I continue to suffer from the consequences,” she says.

She booked the trip with a friend, which was designed as a ‘Marigold Hotel Experience’ which involved moving to a different destination in India every three days. They had just arrived at the hotel in Jaipur, and Margaret was making her way down the stairs to the reception to meet others for pre-dinner drinks, when she fell. Photographs show the staircase turns abruptly to the right, with no handrail at that point.

“The stairs were absolutely shocking. I slipped off the edge and then slid down about ten marble stairs,” recalls Margaret.

“I was in a great deal of pain, and I was taken to the hospital for an X-ray and given some strong painkillers.

“But while my friend and others helped me when it happened, nobody wanted to talk to me about it from the tour operator. The travel guide who was taking us round India was off-site with a friend when it happened and didn’t return until the next day, and the operator’s only reaction was to ask if I wanted to go home.

“I was in shock after it all but was determined to have a go at enjoying the rest of the holiday.”

It was only after returning to England the full extent of her injuries were discovered, and she has needed injections to help with her back pain and extensive physiotherapy. Even now, she continues to experience pain and restriction with activities she previously enjoyed, including playing golf.

“I wanted to do something about it. I was really upset with what had happened and how I’d been treated,” she says.

She turned to Onyinye Ebizie, a specialist solicitor in dealing with accidents abroad, who supported Margaret in successfully settling her claim – although responsibility was initially denied by Newmarket Holidays, who produced reports claiming that the staircase was safe.

It is understood the staircase in the hotel is now no longer in use – which, while good news for other guests, does little to help Margaret, who has been left with life-changing injuries.

“Looking at the photographs of the stairs, it is not hard to see how this happened. This is the worst layout of stairs in a hotel I have seen in my career, and holidaymakers like our client were being exposed to this risk totally unnecessarily,” says Onyinye, who is able to handle claims on a no win, no fee basis.

“Having looked forward to this trip for so long, it was completely spoiled for our client because of what happened on that staircase. This was supposed to be a relaxation retreat, but instead she spent most of the time in significant pain and with injuries that continue to affect her even now, four years on.

“On package holidays, people who have been involved in an accident have three years to make a claim for their injuries.

“Often, we meet people who feel it has been too long, or think they’ll just try and put it behind them – but it’s important that those who have suffered such experiences feel they have a voice and are supported in making change that will help others to avoid the same misfortune. We’re really pleased to have helped our client in this case in doing that.”

If you have experienced an accident abroad, our expert solicitors will be able to advise you on next steps. For more information, contact us here

*Name has been anonymised

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