Each year, millions of individuals travel overseas with family and friends to enjoy exotic getaways, city breaks or relaxing beach holidays. The last thing on anyone’s mind is what to do if an accident happens, but unfortunately statistics show that between 2012-2015, 4.4 million people suffered injuries whilst abroad.
Many holiday accidents are easily preventable if you take simple precautions. With this in mind, we have put together a quick ‘need to know’ guide about holiday accidents so you can make sure a trip doesn’t ruin your journey!
The Most Common Holiday Accidents
Slips, trips and falls
When travelling abroad, you are often unfamiliar with your surroundings and this may increase the risk of slips, trips and falls. Further, health and safety requirements are not always as stringent in other countries, so there may be more hazards and uneven surfaces compared to UK standards or what you’re used to. While it can be tempting to soak up the sights and sounds of your holiday destination, do keep an eye out for potential trip hazards. Ensuring that you remain aware of your surroundings at all times and holding onto hand-rails when walking down stairs can make all the difference – the most amazing artefact or architecture won’t look as impressive if you’re looking up at them from the bottom of a flight of stairs!
Swimming pools and being nearer to the sea or other bodies of water also risk surfaces being more slippery and increase the risk of slips. Walking slowly, taking more care when it is dark and not running near the pool-side will help to keep your family safe in these situations. In line with this, being aware of the depth of water when diving into swimming pools and the sea can minimise the risk of you, or your family, sustaining a serious injury – such as a head, neck or back injury.
Sunburn and heatstroke
Spending too much time in the sun can cause serious health issues with long-term consequences quicker than you think. A simple action to prevent this is to make sure that you are wearing a high-SPF sun-cream with a high UVA star rating, which is reapplied throughout the day (especially after swimming) and that you keep hydrated.
Staying out of direct sunlight at the hottest points in the day (12-3pm), making sure you don’t fall asleep in the sun and wearing protective clothing (such as, hats and sunglasses) will also protect you from dangerous UV rays.
There is a high risk of heat stroke during hot weather, but ensuring that you know the symptoms of this dangerous condition (including: headache, dizziness and a body temperature above 40o) will allow you to seek help as soon as possible.
The risk of being involved in a road accident whilst abroad can be higher due to the differing road conditions and variation of laws that apply. Staying alert, rather than being too focused on following a map and ensuring that you aware of any difference in driving regulations can help to prevent any accidents.
When hiring a car, it is imperative that all necessary checks are made before you travel (such as, the condition of the tyres, lights and brakes). As in the UK, always wear your seatbelt and an appropriate helmet if you are travelling on a motorbike/moped.
The incidence of food poisoning is often increased whilst abroad as bacteria grows more quickly in warmer climates. To ensure that you are able to make the most of your holiday, there are many small steps that you can follow. Some products are at a higher risk within higher temperatures, so avoiding seafood, meat and dairy products can all reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning – in particular when visiting countries where refrigeration isn’t common. Similarly, drinking bottled water, washing your hands regularly with soap and water, and ensuring that any food you consume is fully cooked through and has not been kept warmed up for a long period of time, will help to protect you and your family.
How To Make Sure You Are Protected, Should an Accident Occur?
Make sure you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
To ensure that you and your family are fully protected whilst travelling in Europe, it is advisable to carry an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) at all times. An EHIC card provides all EU citizens access to fundamental medical support across 27 European countries; importantly, this will not be affected by the recent Brexit vote.
The EHIC card can easily be applied for online, it is a free service and remains valid for five years. At least six months before you travel, ensure that your EHIC card is in date, so that you can re-apply for a new one if not.
Make sure you have holiday insurance
It is a common misconception that the EHIC card acts as a replacement for travel insurance – this is not the case. Recent estimates suggest that one-in-five individuals are not covered for the cost of an emergency whilst abroad. Although the EHIC card entitles individuals to state-provided care, this does not necessarily cover all forms of healthcare that may be needed.
To ensure that you are fully protected, it is crucial that you take out a travel insurance policy before your trip. As policies start from as little as £5 for an individual and £17 for a family, and the costs of an accident can easily cost in the thousands, travel insurance is well worth the investment.
When choosing a policy, ensure that it provides sufficient cover for your holiday, that you have read all of the small print and that you print out and take all of the relevant details with you on holiday.
When Can You Make A Holiday Accident Claim?
What criteria do you have to meet to make a holiday accident claim?
If an accident happens whilst on holiday, you may be able to make a holiday accident claim. However, to do so you need to be able to prove liability – in simpler terms, this means that the injury occurred as a direct result of someone else’s negligence.
Under English law, the time limit to make a claim is three years from the date that the accident or injury took place.
What is the process?
If you have been injured whilst abroad, you must seek medical advice first and foremost. If it is safe to do so, try to gather evidence of the scene where the incident occurred and document what happened in as much detail as is possible – photographs of the location or your injuries are helpful. You must also report the accident to the most appropriate organisation.
The process for making a holiday accident claim can differ dependent upon how your holiday was booked. If you booked through a UK-based tour operator, then claims can be sometimes be pursued against that specific company. However, this becomes more complex for independent travellers who must make their claims through the country’s legal system.
Who do you contact?
Every accident is different and as the rules surrounding holiday accident claims can be complex. However, Thompsons Solicitors has many years of holiday accident experience and their team of skilled personal injury solicitors who can advise you on whether you have a holiday accident claim and ensure that you are supported throughout to get the right result.