Accidents and injuries abroad can take many forms; sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, slips, trips & falls, illness due to drinking contaminated water or eating unsafe foods, natural disaster, terrorist event, air turbulence or sea sickness due to poor weather whilst on a cruise. Any of these eventualities can lead to ongoing medical issues, a ruined holiday, time off work, financial worries, and considerable stress.
Incidents abroad are surprisingly common
A Post Office Travel Insurance study in 2015 estimated that 4.4 million holidaymakers had suffered an injury whilst abroad in the preceding three years, representing more than a third of all travellers. From a geographical perspective, Spain was the country in which most accidents occurred and food poisoning happened most frequently in Turkey.
Tragedy in Tunisia
Whilst most incidents are minor, few will fail to recall one event on 26th June 2015 in which 38 people were shot by a terrorist in the tourist resort of Port El Kantaoui in Tunisia. 30 of those killed were British. This event was unprecedented and not only did it irrevocably damage the lives of the many hundreds of people directly affected by the loss of loved ones, it has also decimated the Tunisian tourist industry. In February 2017, the families of 22 of the victims speaking at an inquest into the event in 2015 spoke about their intention to hold Tui (the owner of Thomson Holidays) accountable, as in their view, they had not placed “safety before sale.”
In the case of the Tunisian attacks, the tour operator may be found liable for negligence over the deaths of the holiday makers under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. For a tour operator to be held accountable for an incident that occurs, the accident must have occurred either within the hotel complex, on an excursion, or whilst in receipt of a holiday service provided as part of your package. For a claim to be upheld, it would need to be proven that the tour company was negligent in its duty of care to you – perhaps if they had not performed proper safety checks on any the companies providing the services you receive, or if the hotel was unhygienic or badly maintained.
Given the boom in online travel booking websites, many travellers choose not to book through tour operators but rather make their own arrangements. If an overseas individual or organisation caused your illness, accident or loss whilst you were travelling, it is unlikely that you will be able to bring a case against them in a British court; it would need to be in the same jurisdiction in which the incident occurred, which can be complex and costly. If you are considering this option, it is paramount that you seek expert legal advice from a personal injury solicitor who is experienced in bringing compensation claims in foreign courts.
Keeping safe whilst abroad
The World Health Organisation (WHO) report that road traffic accidents are the most frequent cause of death or injury worldwide. A great deal can be done to minimise you chance of ever being involved in a road traffic accident whilst travelling, such as wearing a seatbelt, avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or when tired, check the condition of the vehicle in which you are travelling and ensure that you travel in licensed, official public transport.
A large number of accidents abroad are related to water. It is recommended that you don’t swim alone or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, make yourself aware of venomous aquatic animals (such as jellyfish), tidal conditions, local weather conditions and avoid any unnecessary risk.
In general, the advice to travellers is to have fun but do not take unnecessary risks – always remember that your safety and that of your family is paramount. If you do have a medical emergency, contact your travel insurer immediately, who will have provided an international number. You will be assisted by a specialist company appointed by the insurer to arrange medical treatment. You can also contact your local British Consul for assistance.
Ensure you are covered
The most important advice for any traveller, whether independent or not, it to ensure you have good quality comprehensive travel insurance. Consider taking out additional cover if you have a higher chance of an incident whilst travelling – for example winter sports cover – to ensure you have full medical and repatriation cover if you are seriously injured.
In addition, it is important that you apply for and take with you a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for each of the travellers on your holiday if you are going to an EEA country. Crucially make sure it is current for the length of your stay as they do have an expiry date. The EHIC card will provide you will discounted or free healthcare anywhere within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Free Claim Assessment
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have incurred a loss including injury or illness while on holiday and would like a free claim assessment so that you can understand your rights, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.