Dealing with personal injuries on holiday - some useful advice

3rd August 2017

Dealing with personal injuries on holiday

The one thing you don't want to think about when going on holiday is what happens when things go wrong. The easiest way to appease this worry is to arrange travel insurance. The cost of repatriation in the event of an illness or injury, as well as treatment abroad, can run into thousands of pounds. For the sake of a few pounds, travel insurance protects your finances and makes sure you are not left penniless and unwell thousands of miles from home. If you are planning to take part in any extreme sports while you are on holiday (such as skiing) then bear in mind that you will need specialist insurance to cover the heightened risk of injury.

Who is to blame?
From a nasty tumble on a wet patio by the pool, or food poisoning after a gourmet dinner, it is possible for personal injury claims for holiday accidents and illness to be brought against various parties. That could be the hotel itself, a supplier (if you were injured on an excursion, for example), or your tour operator if you are hurt or become ill during a package holiday. Compensation claims can be made for:
Injuries sustained in your accommodation or hotel
Injuries during excursions arranged by or booked through the tour operator
Injury or illness that can be directly related to a service that is part of a package deal.

Compensation claims for package holidays
If you are hurt or ill during a package holiday, it is important to establish if the incident that caused your misfortune in the first place is covered by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992. This defines a package holiday as any that lasts for over 24 hours and includes overnight accommodation, is paid for under a single invoice to a single company, and includes at least two of either transport, accommodation, and other services such as sightseeing or activity events.
If your holiday falls within these parameters then the tour operator can be held directly responsible for accidents or illness that are the result of the negligence of another party. This does not only apply for overseas trips but also for package holidays within the UK.
Importantly, for the regulations to apply, the negligent act must be directly linked to your accommodation, travel arrangements, or activities and, therefore, if you are hurt during a bus ride to an attraction, or contract food poisoning at your hotel, you may be entitled to make a holiday injury compensation claim.

Cruise ships
The regulations are slightly different if your holiday accident or illness happens on board a cruise ship, including during embarking and disembarking the ship. In certain circumstances, you will be covered by a different set of regulations, namely the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974. The time limit for making a compensation claim for any illness or injury on a cruise is two years from disembarkation, so you will need to talk to a solicitor as soon as you can.

When can you not claim?
To make any injury claim, you need to show that a third party was negligent in some way. That can be anything from poor hygiene in the kitchen that leads to contaminated food being served, to badly maintained furniture. However, if your accident was a result of you disregarding warnings or safety notices, then your claim may be rejected.

What should you do?
If you do have an accident abroad, then the same principles apply as with any other accident claim.
Get evidence ??" you are bound to have a camera on you when you are on holiday, so use it to take pictures of everything, from the scene of the accident through to pictures of the injuries sustained. Make sure you get medical reports if you receive treatment, and take names so that you know who treated you, and when.
Get the names, addresses and contact details (email and telephone) of all witnesses.
Tell your rep ??" if you are on a package holiday, tell your rep immediately after suffering an injury or illness. When you get back, ensure you get in touch straight away with the tour operator and notify them of the situation.
Keep receipts for all out-of-pocket losses and expenditure arising from the accident.
Talk to a professional ??" compensation claims for holiday accidents can be complicated by the distances involved, and sometimes language barriers can be a stumbling block too. So talk to a solicitor that has experience in representing clients making holiday compensation claims, and who can work with you to get the compensation you deserve.

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