If you have an accident or suffer an illness whilst abroad, which was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation.
It would be advisable to speak first to a solicitor about the circumstances before pursuing a Personal Injury compensation claim.
If you suffer an accident whilst on holiday abroad, whether in a vehicle, the collapse of a poolside chair or tripping over uneven tiles, you may still be able to bring a legal claim in the UK courts.
You may be assisted by the “Package Holidays” Regulations. This can avoid the difficulties associated with bringing a claim in a foreign country. These Regulations allow the injured victim to bring a claim against the Tour Operator in his or her own country.
Even where the holiday was purchased by another person, a company or a club, or even won as a prize, each holidaymaker still has direct rights to seek compensation.
Whatever the circumstances from the most serious (eg a fatal coach accident) to a slip on a cruise ship, seek legal advice as soon as practicable because of the many pitfalls which may apply and the stringent foreign time limits in which to bring a claim.
What you should do when things go wrong
Whatever the problem, it is important to bring it to the tour operator’s notice or report it to the local representative immediately. If you wait until you arrive home before you complain, you could technically be in breach of contract. If your complaint is acknowledged by the representative, obtain proof by getting a copy of the complaint form. Record dates and times and make a note of any person (hotel manager, staff and representatives) that you speak to.
Keep evidence of your problem
- Take photographs or a video. This is crucial if you feel that you have a complaint
- Retain receipts if you incur unnecessary expense
- If you are ill or have an accident, try and obtain medical evidence. If you are too ill, try and get a friend or relative to get this information for you. Make sure you get names of any doctors who treat you and the address of any clinic or hospital
What you must do when you arrive back in the UK
You must immediately put your complaint in writing to your tour operator. The booking conditions usually specify a time limitation in which to register your complaint with them. It may be anything from 6 – 8 weeks from the date of your return to the UK.
Tour Operators responsibilities
A Tour Operator may have to warn the consumer of any known danger he or she is likely to face in the resort in question, eg extreme weather conditions in certain seasons.
The holiday brochure will be important – both the description of the facilities and the ‘small print’ of the Terms and Conditions of the Contract. Brochures usually state that local Health & Safety Standards apply and these may be lower than UK standards. However, the Balearic Islands Swimming Pools decree 53.1995 requires the complete absence of micro organisms from swimming pools – something difficult to achieve at the best of times.
Not every failure can be attributed to the Tour Operator. A robbery and assault at a hotel by determined criminals may be unavoidable unless the beach front hotel has been turned into a compound! Nevertheless, Thomson Holidays were brought to account when a flight delay of 23 hours through Air Traffic Control problems necessitated a freezing night for a holidaymaker on a ‘gold’ package.
If the injury was caused outside the sphere of the travel company (e.g. tripping on uneven pavements in the town) or when engaged in a sports activity arranged privately with a local company, you cannot claim under the UK Package Tour regulations. It would be necessary to seek local advice about suing the company in the country in which they are based but this can be quite difficult and costly. We would recommend that you seek advice in the UK before taking legal action abroad.
Road accidents abroad
If you receive an injury in a road accident, whether as a driver or passenger, and the other party was to blame, you may be able to seek compensation.
It is advisable to seek immediate medical assistance as some countries insist upon this before a compensation claim can be considered. It is also vital that you have full details of the other driver and witnesses. Report the matter to the police and keep a record of any reference numbers they may give you.
If you were employed by a UK based company (with a registered office or place of business in the UK), and received an injury that was not your fault whilst working abroad, you can claim compensation in the same way you would if the accident had happened on the UK mainland.
If the company is foreign owned, you would need to seek specialist advice about your options for pursuing a claim.
Funding your claim
We offer a full range of funding options including “No Win, No fee”, whereby you do not have to pay any upfront costs and there is nothing to pay should you lose the case.
Please click here for full details of all funding options.
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