What to Do if You Are Injured While Travelling Alone

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What to Do if You Are Injured While Travelling Alone

There are many reasons why people travel alone: the opportunity to explore, meet new people and follow your own path can be exciting and very rewarding. However, it also brings specific risks - you must take sole responsibility for your own safety, as there may be no one to help you should an accident occur.

As such, if you intend to travel alone - whether for a few days in the UK, a journey through Europe, or somewhere further afield - it is important to prepare yourself in order to minimise any risk to your health and safety and ensure you enjoy the best possible trip. This includes understanding what you should do if you experience an accident or injury while out on your travels.

The expert personal injury team at JMW Solicitors has a wealth of experience supporting injured travellers. We know what the most common injuries are, and what you should do if you sustain an injury to give yourself the best possible chance of recovery. Here, we will discuss the best ways to avoid an injury while travelling alone, and how you should react if you are involved or injured in an accident in another country.

It is important to add that if your trip will take you through multiple countries - for example, if you are travelling through Europe on an Interrail pass - it is vital to understand the laws that apply in each individual country. However, the advice we provide here will apply generally to any country in the world.

If you need legal advice following an injury that was not your fault, you can contact JMW for a free initial chat on 0345 872 6666, or use our online enquiry form to arrange a call back at your convenience.

Be prepared

The most important thing before you travel is to be prepared, as this can significantly reduce the likelihood that you will be involved in an accident or sustain an injury. Consider the types of risks you are likely to face and make sure you have anything you might need to react safely. The risk factors will be determined by the activities in which you intend to participate - climbing or hiking may pose a much bigger risk of broken bones or falls from height, but slips, trips and falls can happen anywhere. As such, you should consider the general risks and the things you might need, along with any more specific problems you might encounter.

The following items may help you to help you deal with some of the most common accidents and injuries, although you should consider whether or not they will be applicable to your specific circumstances: 

  • Painkillers
  • A power bank or phone charger
  • Food and water
  • A first aid kit
  • A secure travel bag
  • Wet-weather gear

If there are specific risks associated with the activities you plan to undertake, factor these in as well. If you are hiking, for example, make sure that you take suitable footwear and that you understand the types of wildlife you may encounter, and how to react. Certain activities may require personal protective equipment, and you should check this carefully before you travel to ensure it will be suitable for your purposes. If you are using Interrail or travelling through multiple countries by other means, prepare a travel itinerary that details where you are going and share it with someone you trust. 

You should also ensure that you have memorised the emergency number for the country you are visiting - while you can save this into your phone, you will be able to react more quickly if you know the number from memory. Most European countries use the same emergency phone number, which is 112, and operators in these countries can usually provide services in English and French as well as their national language. However, many countries have additional emergency numbers for specific services, or may not use the EU emergency number, so you should check this before you travel to make sure you can access emergency services if you need to. 

Once you have considered the risks involved in your trip, arrange a travel insurance policy. These can vary significantly in terms of the level of cover they provide, and now that you understand the types of accidents you might face, you can make sure that you are covered for anything you might realistically need. Save the number for your insurance company into your phone so that you can contact them if you need to, and make sure you can access your policy details. In the event that you are injured, you should contact the company to inform them at the earliest opportunity.

Travelling in Europe

If you are travelling to one or more countries in the EU, you should also apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) before you travel. This allows you to access medical treatment and healthcare in any EU country (and Switzerland) through state healthcare providers, if they deem that treatment cannot wait until you return to the UK.

This means that if you need emergency medical care or certain types of routine care - for example, for a pre-existing or long-term condition - you can access these services throughout the EU without needing to pay. However, it is important to note that you may need to pay for some services that would be free in the UK through the NHS, if they are not provided as free state healthcare in the country you are visiting.

You should make sure that you have a travel insurance policy as well as a GHIC, as this will typically cover a broader range of health expenses and may also cover the cost to fly you home, if necessary.

How to respond to an accident or injury

If you are injured in an accident, your first step should be to determine whether or not you need emergency medical help. If so, you should call the emergency services as soon as possible. If you are in an EU country that uses 112 as its emergency number, operators can typically speak to you in English, and can access your location in order to send help.

Even if you determine that you do not need emergency assistance, it is still advisable to have a doctor or other medical professional examine you following an injury. There may be underlying conditions or invisible symptoms that could develop into more serious problems later, and it is vital to detect these as early as possible.

If you are able, you should take photographs of the site where you were injured and any circumstances that might have contributed to or been responsible for the accident. Exchange contact details with anyone who witnessed or was involved in the accident. If you are injured at a hotel, you should report the incident to a representative of the hotel and ensure it is recorded; the same applies if you are injured on an excursion planned by a tour operator, or on a flight or train journey.

You should also report the case to your insurance company as soon as you can, especially if you need medical services or intend to consult a doctor. Their emergency contact number should be easy to find in your policy documents, although ideally you will have it saved into your phone. 

If you need to seek medical treatment or healthcare in the EU, you should present your GHIC card at the time that the service is provided. Alternatively, your insurance provider may be affiliated with certain hospitals or treatment centres, particularly in countries outside the EU. If you need to claim back the costs of certain services, you may need to seek treatment at one of these specific locations. You may need to pay for the services you access at the time and claim back the costs from your insurance provider later - however, you should still provide details of your insurance policy to your treatment provider when you access the service.

If you are injured abroad in an accident that was not your fault, you may be able to claim compensation. This can not only help you to pay for medical expenses, the time it will take you to recover, and a return flight home if you need one, but can also ensure that the responsible party takes action to prevent similar accidents from happening to other people in the future.

Your eligibility to claim compensation will depend on the specific circumstances, but in many cases, you will be able to make a claim if the injury was not your fault. This is true no matter where in the world you were injured; while our team has significant experience representing UK clients who were injured in the EU, we have also successfully secured compensation for clients who were injured further afield, for example in the USA, the Caribbean, Turkey and Mexico.

Common circumstances under which you may be able to claim compensation include:

  • An accident on an excursion
  • An injury in a hotel
  • A road traffic accident
  • An accident on a plane or helicopter
  • An injury on a package holiday

We are able to pursue many cases on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that there is no financial risk to you in making the claim, and there are no costs upfront. We take our fees from your compensation payout, at a rate that is agreed upon in advance, meaning that there are no surprises at the end of the process. We also work diligently to ensure you are awarded the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled, which can help to cover lost earnings during your recovery, any private medical treatment you require, and any lifestyle adjustments you need to make to accommodate your injury.

Injuries for which you can receive compensation range from relatively minor cuts and scrapes to serious head and neck injuries. Our compensation calculator indicates the types of injury for which you may be eligible to claim, but for a more detailed insight, contact our team for a free chat about your circumstances. Call us on 0345 872 6666, or use our online enquiry form to request a call back at a convenient time for you.

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