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Although accidents and illness can happen anywhere, being injured during a holiday abroad can be particularly challenging. An unfamiliar setting or language difficulty can make it difficult to ensure you get the right treatment, and can also make it difficult for you to assert your legal rights.

If the cause of your illness or injury was not your fault, it may be possible to claim compensation for your injuries, whether you were abroad on holiday or on business.

Accidents you may be able to claim for include:

  • Injuries in hotels, restaurants or leisure complexes caused by slips on wet surfaces
  • Trips or falls on uneven flooring, loose carpets and rugs, appliance cables or inappropriately placed objects
  • Falls from balconies or terraces
  • Injuries while participating in sporting activities or on organised excursions
  • Injuries sustained on public transport (trams, buses, trains, ferries, aeroplanes), stations and airports

Illnesses you may be entitled to compensation for include:

  • Gastrointestinal upsets caused organisms such as Cryptosporidium found in contaminated water in swimming pools or used to wash salads and fruit.
  • Food poisoning contracted due to poor hygiene practices in hotels and restaurants
  • Viral illnesses such as Rotavirus and Norovirus outbreaks that are not properly contained (for example on cruise ships) 

What to do if your injuries occurred on a package holiday

If your injuries were sustained in the accommodation, or during an excursion or through an activity or on transport or car hire organised by the tour operator you may be able to claim compensation under the 1992 Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tour Regulation Act. 

These regulations give holidaymakers the legal right to expect and receive the holiday they booked and paid for. It means the travel agent or tour operator is directly responsible if this is not the case. This includes sustaining injury or illness if it can be proven to have been caused by the negligence of the operator.

For example, if the selected hotel’s hygiene standards were not checked by the tour operator and there was an outbreak of food poisoning, the operator would be liable. However, if the Claimant had chosen to eat in a restaurant outside the hotel and fell ill as a consequence, the claim would be against the specific restaurant (and more difficult to pursue).

Claims brought under these Package Travel Regulations are made in the UK and generally straightforward.

Accidents and injuries to independent travellers

Regardless of where you stay or travel, those who provide a service, whether a transport company, hotel, activity or excursion or car rental company, have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their customers.

However, independent travellers may face more difficult claims, since the claim is usually made in the country where the accident or injury was sustained. This means dealing with different legal processes.

It is important to collect as much evidence as possible at the time of the injury. This will help your solicitor to pursue the claim on your behalf.

  • Evidence may include:
  • Photographs of any defective equipment
  • Photographs of the site of the accident and its surroundings
  • Photographs and notes of the injuries sustained
  • Details of any witnesses, including contact numbers, addresses and any statements
  • Receipts for any treatment or medication you have to pay for
  • Any medical reports

What if my injuries were caused in a road accident abroad?

If you have a road traffic accident while abroad you should follow similar procedures in evidence gathering and exchanging details to those in the UK.

It is advisable to report the incident to the local police, but you should not admit liability or enter into any formal correspondence without legal advice.

Advise your insurer or vehicle’s hire company of the accident as soon as possible. 

Insurance companies usually provide a European Accident Statement (EAS) form. This is a standard form available throughout Europe. It will help obtain an agreed statement of facts about the accident and is useful when pursuing an insurance claim. You will need to keep a copy.

Where the party at fault has no insurance there may be provision to make a claim for compensation through the country’s equivalent of the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, details of which may be provided by your insurer or the British Embassy in the country in which the accident occurred.

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