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Sustaining an injury while on holiday can be a devastating experience. At a time when you are trying to relax and take time away from the strains of your life, an injury can add unnecessary difficulty and stress that can be hard to deal with. At the very least, if you are no longer able to make the most of your holiday, it can cut short your trip, force you to cancel activities or other plans and lead to a significant loss of enjoyment. At worst, an injury can result in a long stay in a hospital far away from home, or permanently change your life.
If you are injured in an accident that isn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. As well as an award for your pain and suffering, this can help to account for any expenses you incur as a result of medical treatment you need and any loss of enjoyment of your holiday, and can also help to pay for any time away from work you need for your recovery, or any lifestyle adjustments you need to make to help you to deal with your injury.
However, it can be difficult to determine who is responsible for your accident, and as a result, to know whether you have a possible claim for compensation. Speaking to a specialist personal injury solicitor is the best way to determine this, but if you hope (or intend) to make a claim then there are other things that you will need to know. Here, the accidents abroad experts at JMW Solicitors explain how you can make a compensation claim for an injury you sustained while on holiday, and the steps you should take from your accident through to your claim in order to maximise your chances of success.
Was Your Holiday a Package Holiday?
The type of claim you will make and how this will work are affected by whether you were on a package holiday or not. A package holiday consists of two or more travel services booked together - whether through a linked booking process or a single checkout, and whether provided by one or multiple companies. This might include travel, accommodation, and any tourist services (such as guided tours, tickets to theme parks or other services) that constitute at least 25% of the value of the holiday, or are fundamental to the experience.
On a package holiday, your tour operator is responsible for keeping you safe. This applies to your travel or accommodation (if these were booked as part of the package) and any activities you participate in that are organised by the tour operator, so if you are injured during these activities, while staying in a company-operated hotel or during travel to or from your destination, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
The process of making a claim is different if you have not booked a package holiday, and can be more difficult. If your travel services were all booked separately, the individual companies are responsible for keeping you safe when you use the services they provide, and might be found liable if you suffer an accident or injury while in their care. However, it can be harder to pursue a claim as the operators of these services will often be based in the destination country, rather than in the UK, and it can be complicated and expensive to pursue a claim against a company overseas.
With that said, travel claims are treated in the same way whether you travelled abroad for your holiday or remained in the UK. You should not be put off from pursuing a claim because the company responsible for your injury is based in another country, nor because you stayed in the UK for your holiday. Contact us for advice on your options.
What to do if you are Injured on Holiday
When you are injured, the first thing you should do is seek necessary medical attention. If you have a valid EHIC or GHIC with you, you can access free state health and medical care in any EU country, but outside of Europe (or if you do not have a valid GHIC or EHIC) you may have to pay your own medical expenses. However, it is important to receive medical treatment if you need it, and this can help to support your claim by providing medical evidence of your injuries.
Any money you need to spend on medical treatment will usually be accounted for in any compensation you receive. In addition, you should keep any receipts for trips to the hospital or to any medical appointments as these expenses can also be provided for in any award of damages.
If possible, you should take pictures or make notes about the circumstances in which your accident took place, as soon as possible after the incident. You should also collect the details of any witnesses of the accident who can provide further evidence. If you cannot do this immediately, you can have a travelling companion help you and collect this information.
As soon as you can, you should inform your tour operator or representative of the accident, and make sure it is logged in an accident book where relevant. All of these actions can help to support your case and provide evidence if you decide to make a claim for compensation.
How to Make a Compensation Claim for an Accident on Holiday
Before pursuing a claim, you should always check which company was responsible for providing your travel services. This can be ambiguous, because some holidays may include services from multiple companies (a hotel provided by one company and flights provided by another, for example) that are nevertheless considered a package because they are booked through a single checkout (or a linked booking process).
If you have confirmation documents, these will explain which company is your tour operator, which means that they are responsible for your holiday. Alternatively, if you have an ATOL certificate, this will also contain the information you need. If other companies are found to be jointly responsible, they may be brought into the case as co-defendants, but in the first instance, it is important to identify the tour operator that is ultimately responsible for your safety.
A specialist solicitor will be able to help you with this. It is often worthwhile to call and speak to a personal injury solicitor to determine whether you have a claim to pursue and what steps you can take. Many personal injury lawyers will offer a free initial conversation to talk about your circumstances and the nature of your accident, and may even provide a no win, no fee service to avoid the possibility of any financial risk associated with pursuing your claim.
Speaking to a solicitor early in the process can also help you to gather evidence quickly and effectively, and ensure that you are properly prepared to represent your case. Another consideration is the fact that there is generally a three-year deadline from the moment of your injury for you to make a claim, so it is important to start the process as soon as possible.
For information on whether you have a valid case to claim compensation and advice about your next steps, visit our dedicated page or contact JMW Solicitors today. You can reach our expert personal injury team on 0800 054 6570, or complete our online enquiry form to arrange a call back.