Handling an Accident Abroad While Solo Travelling

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Handling an Accident Abroad While Solo Travelling

Dealing with an injury in a foreign country can be a daunting experience, even more so when you're travelling alone. The absence of familiar faces, coupled with potential language barriers, can make the situation particularly challenging. 

Here, JMW equips solo travellers with the knowledge and steps to take should they find themselves injured abroad.

Keep Your Wits About You

Assess the Situation

Before you do anything else, take a moment to assess the severity of your injury and your immediate surroundings. Are you in immediate danger? Do you need to move to a safer location? If you're in a remote area, consider how far you are from medical facilities or populated areas where you can seek help.

Use Your Smartphone

If you have a smartphone, use it to your advantage. Most modern smartphones have built-in emergency features that can automatically dial local emergency numbers. Additionally, translation apps can help you communicate basic needs if you're facing a language barrier.

Reach Out Virtually

When you're travelling solo, you may not have someone on hand to provide immediate assistance. However, you can still reach out to friends or family via messaging apps or social media to let them know what's happened. They can offer emotional support and may be able to assist with tasks like contacting your insurance company or the nearest embassy.

Immediate Medical Assistance

Call for Help

Your first priority should be to call for medical assistance. If you're unsure of the local emergency number, a quick internet search should provide the information. Alternatively, some smartphones automatically list emergency numbers based on your location. Make the call and try to explain your situation as clearly as possible, using translation apps if necessary.


While waiting for medical help, try and check over yourself to understand the severity of your injuries. This will help you communicate more effectively with medical professionals once they arrive. If you have a first aid kit, use it to treat minor injuries, but avoid moving too much if you suspect fractures or other serious injuries.

Local Medical Facilities

Once medical help arrives, you'll likely be taken to the nearest medical facility. If you have concerns about the standard of healthcare, remember that your immediate wellbeing is the priority. You can always seek a second opinion or further treatment once you're stable. If you're in a country where you don't speak the language, use your smartphone to communicate essential information, such as allergies or existing medical conditions.

Document Everything

From the moment you receive medical assistance, start documenting everything. Take photos of your injuries, the accident scene and any other relevant details. Keep all medical records and bills; these will be crucial if you decide to seek compensation later on.

Embassy and Consular Support

Contacting the Embassy

Once you're medically stable, your next step should be to contact the nearest British embassy or consulate. The embassy can provide a range of services, from helping you understand local medical procedures to contacting your family back home. Keep the embassy's contact details saved in your phone and perhaps written down in a notebook as a backup.

Language Assistance

If you're struggling with a language barrier, the embassy can assist in translating critical information between you and the medical staff. This can be particularly helpful when you're travelling alone and don't have the support of a companion who speaks the local language.

The embassy will also document the incident, which can be invaluable if you need to take legal action or make an insurance claim later. They can guide you on how to file a police report if your injury was the result of a crime, which is another important document for legal or insurance purposes.

Emergency Funds

In extreme cases, the embassy can assist with emergency funds or help facilitate a transfer of funds from your family or friends back in the UK. However, this is generally a last resort and it's expected that you repay any funds provided.

Financial Considerations

Insurance Claims

Before you even leave for your trip, make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses abroad. If you've been injured, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to initiate a claim. Keep all medical documents and receipts, as you'll need these to substantiate your claim.

GHIC Cards

If you're in an EU country, your Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) can be a financial lifesaver. These cards entitle you to state-provided healthcare under the same conditions as nationals of that country. However, they're not a substitute for travel insurance, as they won't cover things like repatriation or non-urgent medical treatment.

Payment Plans

If you're facing hefty medical bills and your insurance won't cover the full amount, ask about payment plans or financial assistance. Many hospitals have provisions for this, especially for foreign nationals who may not be familiar with the healthcare system.

Currency and Payment Methods

Be aware of the currency in which you'll be billed and the payment methods accepted. Some places may not accept foreign credit cards, so you may need to arrange a bank transfer or use another payment method. Always keep records of all transactions related to your medical treatment.

Claiming Compensation

Identifying Negligence

If your injury was the result of someone else's negligence, such as a poorly maintained hotel facility or a reckless driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The first step is to identify the negligent party and gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim.

Gathering Evidence

Collect photographs, video footage or any other form of evidence that can help your claim. If there are witnesses, try to get their contact details and statements. The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.

Consult a Solicitor

Once you're back in the UK, or even while you're still abroad if your condition allows, consult a solicitor who specialises in personal injury claims abroad. They can guide you through the complexities of international law and help you understand what compensation you may be entitled to.

Time Limits and Jurisdiction

Be aware that legal systems and time limits for filing a claim can vary from country to country. Your solicitor can advise you on the specific rules that apply to your case, including whether you should file your claim in the UK or in the country where the injury occurred.

Talk to Us

For more information on holiday injury claims, call our accident abroad personal injury solicitors today for advice and support. Contact us on 0345 872 6666, or fill out an online contact form and we will return your call at a time convenient for you.

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