07 Jan 2022

Personal Injury

Sun, Sea and Slips: Claiming for an Injury on a Package Holiday

With a whole host of countries, including the US and Australia, confirming the reopening of their borders to international travellers, holidays seem to be firmly back on the agenda (for now!).

However, jetting off in search of some much needed rest and relaxation is not without risk. According to research conducted by the Post Office, an estimated 4.4 million British people were injured over a three year period while on holiday – with slips and trips, food poisoning and accidents while on excursions topping the injury list.

Partner and head of the Personal Injury team, Victoria Smithyman, explores the protection offered to holiday-makers, before offering her top tips to those injured while abroad.

All packaged up

Claiming compensation for an injury sustained while abroad is often regarded as notoriously difficult, with language barriers and differing legal systems deterring many from seeking the compensation they deserve.

While it can be tricky to know where to begin when you’ve suffered an injury sustained on foreign soil, the good news, if you are injured while on a package holiday, is that you are protected by quite a powerful piece of legislation known as The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations, which came into effect from 1 July 2018.

Traditionally, the law only applied to package deals that consisted of at least two of the following, when booked together:

  • Transport (such as a flight, coach or train).
  • Accommodation (including a villa, hotel or apartment complex).
  • An excursion.

In 2018, the legislation was updated to reflect the changing nature of ‘holidaying’, as an increasing number of breaks were booked online. Individuals are now protected across a wider range of accidents and injuries, as long as their package holiday covers a period of at least 24 hours (or includes overnight accommodation), and combines at least two different types of travel services, including car rental, accommodation or a tourist service (such as a tour guide).

Under the updated regulations, you can pursue a claim for compensation on the basis that hotel staff, contractors or other parties involved had failed to use reasonable care and skill to ensure the injured person was kept safe, and/or whether the cause of injury complied with local safety standards.

If your claim is successful, the compensation awarded will include general damage , which is the pain, suffering and loss of amenity you have suffered as a result of the accident, medical expenses, additional hotel expenses (if for example, you have been unable to travel home) and loss of earnings.

Despite the increased flexibility offered, if you have purchased a ‘tailor-made holiday’, you may not be considered a passenger on a package holiday, from a legal point of view – so it’s always worth checking the small print before you pack your bags.

 

What to do if you’re injured abroad

While your first priority should always be getting yourself or a loved one the necessary medical care, if possible, taking certain actions can help assist in making your claim later down the line.

This includes:

  • Speaking to the package organiser’s representative about what has happened, as well as the management of the hotel in which you are staying.
  • Recording as much information as possible about the event. This can include taking photographs, noting the location in which the incident occurred and keeping medical records and receipts of any charges incurred by treatment.
  • Taking the name and contact details of any witnesses.

And of course, before you even step foot on the plane (or train, or boat!), I would strongly advise having a travel insurance policy in place.

While the legislation covering a package holiday means that it may not be necessary to make a claim on your insurance, for a small sum you are guaranteed invaluable layers of additional protection against an array of uncertainties. Aside from injury, travel insurance also ensures you are protected should your trip be cancelled or cut short for reasons beyond your control, or if your luggage is damaged or stolen in transit.

 

Who’s responsible?

Depending on the nature and location of your accident, the individual or organisation at fault will vary. The safety net offered by a package holiday means that this will often fall at the feet of the tour operator, but not always.

A tour operator is a company that puts together a range of package holidays, purchasing the various aspects (such as flights, transfers and accommodation) before bundling them together to sell to the consumer.

This differs from the role of the travel agent, who work to bridge the gap between the customer and tour operator to make it easier for the customer to select the deal best suited to them. Once booked and paid for, the individual will find themselves wholly in the hands of the relevant tour operator, rather than the agent with whom they booked it.

However, there are still limitations. ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) state that tour operators can be held liable for accidents, but ‘only when the injury occurred during an activity or in a place in which they were involved in its organisation’. So while you may be covered against a slip on a wet surface within your hotel complex, it’s much less clear who (if anyone) is liable if you trip due to a pothole in the road while visiting the local town.

It’s always worth speaking with a solicitor to understand the complexities of your compensation claim.

If you’ve suffered an accident or injury on holiday that wasn’t your fault, speak to our expert personal injury team who can help you find out if you’re eligible to make a claim. Get in touch today via phone (01633 244233) or send an email to hello@hevans.com.

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