Claiming Compensation for an Injury Abroad20 May 2019
Whatever reason you are abroad, be it on holiday or on business, how do you claim compensation in the UK if you suffer an injury?
Travelling abroad independently
If you are travelling abroad independently, it is vital that you purchase travel insurance to cover your trip. Depending on your policy, your travel insurance can cover for delays, cancellations, stolen or lost personal belongings and most importantly, medical emergencies such as personal injury. While the UK is still a member of the EU, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers you for free emergency medical treatment in public hospitals in several European countries. However, the EHIC will not cover you, if for example, you need medical assistance and support to facilitate your journey home to the UK.
What should you do if you are injured abroad?
When you travel always bring your travel insurance details with you – especially your policy number and insurer contact details, including any emergency numbers. If you are injured or require medical attention while abroad, get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible, and keep them informed. It may be helpful to gain your insurer’s agreement for any medical treatment before it happens, but we recognise that this may not always be possible. Remember to keep any receipts for costs incurred, as you may have to pay out of your own pocket initially and then recoup the money through your insurance broker.
Tip: You don’t always have to purchase travel insurance from an insurance company. Sometimes bank accounts and credit cards provide travel insurance as part of their normal financial packages, but before you rely on this solely, it would be a good idea to check what exactly is covered.
It is also very important that you report your accident to the hotel/restaurant/swimming pool or the police if it was a road traffic accident.
Please also take as many photographs of the defect as you can, keep the contact details for the witnesses, and make sure they have your contact details.
When you arrive back in the UK
When you arrive home from your trip, get in touch with your insurer again. You will be sent a claim form which you should complete, making sure that you keep a copy for yourself. You will also have to include copies of receipts or medical certificates with your claim submission. Bear in mind there may be a time limit in which you can claim, so act as soon as possible. Also remember that there will likely be an excess charge for you to pay.
Travelling with a Tour Operator
Please remember to purchase travel insurance to cover your trip
If you are on a package holiday and you are injured or become sick and it is someone else’s fault, you can claim compensation from the trip organiser. The tour operator is also obliged to assist you if you need medical assistance, for example to help you access local medical services.
The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018 means that more travel arrangements are classified as package holidays and as a result are protected legally and financially. Limited protection is now also extended to ‘linked travel arrangements’. These specific regulations apply to sales in the EU only. In addition, holidays booked through an ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) travel company provide further protection and support to their customers: for, to maintain their accreditation, a travel company must comply with the ABTA code of conduct. Be aware that not all travel companies are ABTA members.
What to do if you suffer an injury
If you have been injured during your holiday, you can claim compensation for a variety of factors, including expenses incurred as a result of what happened, distress because of the event and of course, personal injury. As with independent travellers, to support your personal injury claim, it is vital that you keep any relevant documentation, such as booking forms, witness statements and medical records. Pertinent photographs may also be useful, such as taking an image of the area where your accident/injury occurred.
Are you a victim of crime or terrorism?
If you incurred your injury abroad because of a crime committed against you or as the result of a terrorist act, you may be able to claim compensation from the UK Government. Since 27th November 2012, victims can claim compensation if they were physically or mentally injured in a terrorist act or were a witness to an event where a loved one was injured or killed. You can also claim if a close family member or partner was killed. More details for the Victims of Overseas Terrorism Compensation Scheme can be found here.
Remember: Always seek specialist advice from a Solicitor for these personal injury claims
Navigating through the various rules and regulations for different countries can be tricky. For example, there are different time limits for claiming compensation, depending on your circumstances: the limit is 3 years to make a claim against an ABTA tour company while if you sustained an injury during a flight, there is just a 2-year limit. In the case of road traffic accidents outside the EU, it all depends on the laws of the country you are in, while an accident within the EU is covered under European Directives and the claim can be undertaken in the UK.
Due to the complexities and intricacies of International law, National law and personal injury claims, it is advisable to seek specialist advice from a Solicitor if you are pursuing compensation for a personal injury, no matter whether you travelled independently or with a package operator. A solicitor will help your personal injury claim proceed smoothly and in a timely manner, adhering to time constraints and within the applicable laws and regulations. To help your solicitor do their best job for you, have all the details and evidence to hand and presented in a clear manner. Your case be settled outside of court, but if it goes to court, any financial settlement will be valued by a judge.