Elderly client awarded £90,000 after tripping on a hotel step

13 November 2020

The client suffered spinal cord injuries that drastically impacted on her quality of life. The hotel owners denied liability, but Co-op Legal Services obtained evidence to support Mrs P’s claim and the insurers ultimately agreed the settlement.

Client situation

After arriving at a hotel in Blackpool for a holiday, Mrs P tripped on a single step and fell, hitting her head on a fire door that was positioned close to the step. As Mrs P walked out of the lift, her attention was drawn to a sign showing the location of the rooms, which directed her gaze upwards, so she wasn’t aware of the step which was positioned immediately to the left after exiting the lift.
Mrs P sustained spinal cord injuries as a result of her fall, with a loss of sensation and paralysis in her limbs. After assessments, it was discovered that Mrs P had severe quadriparesis (loss of function of all four limbs), due to the bruising of her spinal cord. Mrs P was an inpatient at a series of hospitals for 11 weeks. She also received spinal rehabilitation to help her re-gain the ability to walk very slowly, before finally being discharged.

After returning home, Mrs P needed a wheelchair and initially required care and support from her family 24 hours a day. She also received care from a carer who visited three times a day. Various adaptations were required around her house, such as the installation of a stair lift and grab rails. She needed to attend physiotherapy weekly to help improve her ability to walk, but she remained very limited compared to her state of health before the accident.

How we helped

Mrs P instructed Co-op Legal Services to help and a claim was presented against the hotel for their failure to warn guests of the trip hazard.

The hotel owners denied responsibility throughout the claim. They claimed that there were adequate warning signs for the step, which we disputed on Mrs P’s behalf. We secured witness evidence and photographic evidence in support of the claim, but nonetheless the hotel continued to dispute liability, and it became clear that the matter would have to be resolved through a court trial.

Mrs P was active and sociable before the accident, but afterwards her ability to live an independent lifestyle was significantly compromised by her injuries. She relied on continuing and ongoing assistance from friends and family and we secured evidence in support of those needs.

Co-op Legal Services also secured the expert opinion of a spinal surgeon, who provided a comment on Mrs P’s spinal injury and the required treatment. The prognosis the expert gave for the spinal injury concluded that the accident had accelerated the symptoms of spinal cord compression and greatly increased the severity of the symptoms.

We gathered all the evidence needed to advise Mrs P of the potential value of her claim and we obtained the opinion of a barrister of the likelihood of the claim being successful.

The outcome

Despite the hotel maintaining its stance and denying any liability for Mrs P’s injuries, after negotiations with the insurer a settlement was achieved and £90,000 in compensation was awarded to Mrs P.

Mrs P is now planning to put this money towards private spinal decompression surgery, which it is hoped will relieve her symptoms and help to restore her quality of life.

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