The news is full of headlines all year round with stories of holidaymakers who have travelled abroad for a much-deserved break but ended up with a much more stressful situation on their hands than they expected.
Sometimes this is because the accommodation they were given was substandard, or they weren’t provided with the services they had expected or paid for. In more serious cases, a plane, train or road traffic accident, or an accident in a public place.
The story that continues to make headlines in the UK at the moment is that of teacher Peter Rippington, who sadly died in a coach crash in Northern France while accompanying pupils on a skiing trip.
Holidays are supposed to be peaceful and relaxing, or fun and exciting; whatever you choose. But accidents can happen that turn the holiday upside down, and sometimes compensation can be claimed when the accident was the fault of a third party.
With many people now frantically booking their summer trips, or heading out on skiing adventures in the snow, there are a number of things people should know just in case somebody gets injured and wants to try to claim compensation.
Holiday Accidents FAQ
Q) I became ill or had an accident while abroad, what should I do?
A) Try to gather as much information and evidence as you can and report the incident to the hotel or tour operator in question. This includes documents such as the holiday contract, brochure, booking form, email exchanges and the ticket. If the accident took place in a public place, tell the manager of the establishment or contact the police and obtain an accident report. In addition, you should try and take photos and/or a video and get the contact information of any witnesses.
Q) Do I have take the claim to the country in which it occurred?
A) Not necessarily. A lot of compensation claims can be dealt with in the UK, removing the issue of having to deal with foreign representatives that speak another language, which leaves you open to miscommunication. A solicitor will be able to explain the process you will need to go through for your specific case, as it often varies based on who the holiday was booked with and the country in which the defendant is based.
Q) Is there a time limit for making a claim?
A) Yes. The time limit where English law applies is three years. There are exceptions. The time limit for claiming for injuries sustained while travelling by air or sea is often two years. More importantly the time for bringing a claim and how to stop time running could be governed by the law of the country were the accident occurred. This period can be short eg Spain one year from date of accident, as it is for injuries sustained by travelling by sea.
Q) What are the rules regarding package holidays?
A) There is a set of rules called The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 that makes relevant holiday providers responsible for all services provided as part of the package holiday. In addition, tour operators may be responsible for ensuring you do not fall ill while on holiday. This is one of the main benefits of booking the flight and accommodation through one of the package holiday providers. However a holiday booked on the internet may be covered depending on the circumstances. Also paying by credit card often gives you additional protection against the credit card provider.
While we wouldn’t for a second want anyone to set off on their holiday thinking only of the problems that might befall them, we would suggest people make sure they know their rights in the event of an accident and know that they do have access to justice even if it happened abroad.
This article was written by Lanyon Bowdler, which has a team of leading Herefordshire solicitors specialising in holiday accident claims.