Having an accident at any time is not ideal. However, the comfort of being close to friends and family is always reassuring. When an accident happens abroad it can be all the more stressful as most people will be uncomfortable in their surroundings and unsure of the law and what their rights are in a foreign country.
Common accidents that can happen while abroad may include road traffic accidents, slips or falls and skiing/sporting injuries for example. The claims process will, of course, be a little different to the approach taken for ordinary claims arising out of accidents that have happened in Northern Ireland. Below we have provided a guide to some of the accidents that can happen abroad and how you should deal with them:
Road Traffic Accidents
You may have been driving a hire car or been a passenger on a vehicle organised as part of a package holiday deal. If you were involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you sustained an injury you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
While the law may differ in foreign countries you should still follow the standard protocol for road traffic accidents. Specifically, you should exchange details with the other driver and report the accident to the police. A police report should be requested if possible. You should also take pictures of the accident locus and get the details of any witnesses to the accident.
If you are travelling as part of a package holiday you should report the accident to your hotel or travel representative. You should then seek legal advice as soon as possible and our experienced personal injury solicitors can guide you through the claims process.
Slips, Trips and Falls
If you suffer injury as a result of a hazard or defect that has caused you to fall while on holiday then you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. For example, if you fall and injure yourself as a result of a slippery floor in your hotel that hadn’t been cleaned up or adequately cordoned off then you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
You should firstly seek medical treatment. You should then take pictures of the accident locus and obtain details from any witnesses. You will then need to report the incident to your hotel and/or travel representative. Our expert personal injury solicitors can then help to make a claim on your behalf and will aim to recover damages for pain and suffering, as well as any medical expenses and loss of earnings incurred.
There are risks involved with skiing and winter sports. Sometimes fault can clearly lie with the injured person if they caused injury by their own negligence. However, there are many examples of accidents happening as a result of faulty equipment, improper training or supervision and collisions with other skiers. The extreme nature of skiing means that if accidents do occur it can lead to quite serious injury and the injured party may incur significant medical expenses for example.
Many skiing holidays are booked through a travel agency in the UK or Ireland. If you have suffered an injury that wasn’t your fault, we may be able to make a claim on your behalf against the travel agency for negligence and/or breach of contract.
How We Can Help
The claims process can vary slightly from case to case but will generally adopt the following format:
1. Free Initial Consultation – If you have had an accident abroad and wish to pursue a claim for compensation you should arrange an appointment with one of our personal injury solicitors as soon as possible after you return. Your solicitor will take instructions from you and ask you to provide any relevant information including insurance details, package holiday details and photographs.
2. Letter of Claim – Your solicitor will then send a letter to the at fault organisation or provider setting out detailed allegations of negligence and breach of contract. They will then be obligated to pass this on to their insurance company or legal representatives.
3. Medical Evidence – If you have attended with your GP or went to the hospital, we will obtain those notes and arrange for you to be examined by a specialist medical consultant who will provide a report on the extent of your injuries.
4. Decision on Liability – If the third-party provider admits liability, we will the enter into settlement negotiations with their insurance company or legal representatives. We will then attempt to recover damages that reflect the loss and damage you have suffered.
5. Court Proceedings – If liability is not admitted your solicitor will advise you on the merits of recovering damages by issuing court proceedings against the third party. When Court proceedings are issued your solicitor will instruct a specialist barrister to help prepare your case for Hearing. Court proceedings can also be issued in a case where liability has been admitted if we feel the compensation being offered by the insurance company is not sufficient. Our expert solicitors will advise clients on their options, but the final decision will always be made by the client and we will ensure that their wishes are carried out.
The legal jargon can sometimes be difficult to understand. To help make this information more accessible to our clients we have devised a hypothetical scenario below where a client has had an accident abroad and makes a claim for compensation:
Mark was on a skiing holiday in Italy with his friends that they booked through a local travel agency. Prior to booking they were assured that the package would include their hotel, ski equipment and ski lessons as they were inexperienced skiers. When they arrived, they discovered that the hotel and ski equipment were provided, but there was a misunderstanding between the travel agency and ski resort which meant that ski lessons would not be provided.
Keen not to waste the holiday Mark’s group decided to take to the slopes and start skiing. On the first day of skiing Mark lost control and collided with a tree at high speed coming down a steep slope. His friends managed to get him down the slope and he then received medical attention. It was later confirmed that Mark had sustained a minor fracture to his nose and 3 broken ribs, as well as a concussion. He was fit to travel home a few days later and arranged an appointment with PA Duffy and Company.
Mark’s solicitor asked him to provide the contractual details between him and the travel agency. His solicitor the sent a letter to the travel agency setting out allegations of negligence and breach of contract which caused Mark’s injury. The travel agency accepted responsibility.
Mark was then instructed to attend with a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon to provide a report on his injuries. The report stated that his injuries were serious but would eventually settle within 6-8 months from the accident. Mark also had to take 4 weeks off work as a result of the accident.
Medical evidence and details of Mark’s loss of earnings were then sent to the travel agents insurance company, who subsequently made an offer of £16,000 in final settlement of the claim. Mark’s solicitor argued that this was inadequate and managed to negotiate £24,000 to include his injuries and loss of earnings. Mark was happy to accept this offer and bring the case to a conclusion.