Grandmother’s holiday nightmare after fall led to Greek hospital stay

A grandma’s longed-for dream holiday turned into a nightmare after she broke her ankle in three places in an fall at their Greek hotel. Emilia Fabiszewska’s family were meant to be celebrating the grandmother’s retirement at the Zante hotel, but instead, Emilia spent it in hospital.

The grandmother fell on a wet floor on the second day of the holiday, which was booked through Tui, as she left the hotel shop. It resulted in her ankle being broken and she had to be transferred to a private hospital in Athens on the mainland which involved an eight-hour ambulance trip via a ferry.

“The holiday was entirely ruined,” her daughter Oliwia said, when speaking to Yorkshire Live. “We had been looking forward to it because it was my mum’s retirement but as soon as we arrived, we thought the hotel wasn’t what we thought it would be.

“The standards didn’t seem that good. Then the accident happened and it turned into a nightmare. TUI didn’t want to know and the whole holiday was horrendous.”

According to the government, accidents abroad can be rather costly for those without insurance, ranging from £500 to treat a sprained ankle in a popular holiday resort like Corfu, to £15,000 to £20,000 for a scheduled flight, stretcher and medical escort from Australia.

The family flew from East Midlands Airport in June 2018 and spent around £2,000 on the seven-day package holiday which included flights and accommodation at the Alykanas Beach Village, Zakynthos. Hudgell Solicitors’ travel claims expert Tracy Stansfield represented Mrs Fabiszewska in her claim against TUI.

She said: “When people book a package holiday they quite rightly expect excellent health and safety standards and sadly this wasn’t the case. Package holiday firms also have a duty of care to their customers, and we felt this was also lacking.

“This wasn’t simply compensation for a ruined holiday, this was compensation because the holiday operator did not ensure our client’s safety. Hotels are meant to have vigorous checks and policies to ensure accidents are rare,” said Ms Stansfield.

In an out-of-court settlement TUI agreed damages of £12,000; no liability was admitted. Mrs Fabiszewska, her husband and daughter spent most of the week in the Athens hospital where her mother underwent an operation. After arriving back at the hotel on the final day, following another eight-hour ferry journey, to catch their flight home her daughter Oliwia said things then went from bad to worse.

She said: “The TUI rep told us not to worry as she had arranged for assistance at the airport and she said the plane’s crew had been alerted and knew her mother was now in a wheelchair and had a leg brace and they would find her a suitable seat, but none of that was true. There was no assistance waiting at the airport, they wouldn’t let her on the plane until she could provide a medical certificate to prove she was ‘fit to fly’ and no seat had been reserved to accommodate her broken ankle.

“My husband had to phone the hospital to get the certificate emailed just in time and then boarding the plane my mother had to hop on her good foot down the aisle to the back of the plane to find her originally booked seat. It took ages, she was crying in pain and distressed. Then the cabin crew told her she wouldn’t be allowed to sit there due to health and safety reasons and she then had to hop to the front of the plane.”

The family contacted TUI a few weeks after returning home and explained how the accident happened and how they felt let down by the travel firm. Oliwia continued: “My husband asked them if they would refund the cost of the holiday and they just said ‘no’ and that was the end of it for them. So, I looked up Hudgell Solicitors online, saw they had good reviews and made a call.

Ms Stansfield, associate solicitor in travel, said: “My client fell when she was walking down a ramp from a shop onsite at her hotel. The ramp was wet, as it may have just been mopped and the fall caused my client to break her ankle in three places, and she then spent five days in hospital.

“In this case we believe checks and policies were not up to scratch and because of the fall our client has had a prolonged period of getting back on her feet.”

Oliwia says her mother’s surgery involved metal wires, screws and plates being inserted and on returning to the UK she had to be treated at Doncaster Hospital. Four years on she still requires physiotherapy.

“The last straw was how my mum was treated on the return flight. It really could have been avoided and there has never been an apology. Thanks to Tracy the legal process was straightforward, she kept us updated throughout the whole process,” she said.

The claim was brought under regulations that protect customers who book package holidays, by stipulating holiday operators ensure: “The accommodation, facilities and services supplied will be of satisfactory standard so that they are safe.”

It was alleged that TUI breached its contractual duty of care that a package holiday offers clients because there was a failure to ensure that the ramp was well maintained, free from any substances that could cause injury and there were no adequate efforts to warn of the existence of the water on the ramp by way of signs or notices which exposed Mrs Fabiszewska to a hazard and a risk of injury.

A spokesperson for TUI said: “We remain sorry for Ms Fabiszewska’s accident and are pleased this has now been amicably resolved. We’d like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of our hotels in respect of health and safety.”

For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.