The concept of liability with regards to accidents and injuries is the same throughout the developed world. There is a general misconception that claiming for personal injury compensation for accidents abroad is virtually impossible. True, there may be slight differences in the way an accident abroad claim for compensation is approached, the evidence required and the laws to follow, but the concept is still the same.
While it is safe to say that the majority of personal injury claims involving accidents overseas are holiday accidents abroad, this is not always the case. The accident may have happened while travelling for business, perhaps stopping off on a long haul flight or maybe even visiting family and friends. Whatever the case, if you have received an injury abroad as a consequence of negligence by one or more third parties then you may have a valid claim for compensation.
Common accidents abroad
Before we take a look at the various aspects involved in pursuing compensation for accidents abroad it is worthwhile listing a few of the more common accidents that can happen while travelling abroad.
Accidents whilst on an aeroplane
Even though air travel is one of the safest forms of transport there is still an array of dangers in an aeroplane. This could involve:-
- Luggage falling from overhead compartments
- Trips, slips and falls
- Food poisoning
- Injuries caused by unruly passengers.
It is worth noting that the Montréal Convention 1999 imposes strict liability on airlines in the event of accidents which result in injuries to passengers or staff. However, the typical three-year time limit in which to pursue a claim is cut to 2 years under the convention.
Accidents on cruise ships
Whilst cruise ships will in the vast majority of cases provide the holiday of a lifetime, there are still a variety of common and fairly unique risks. It is worth noting that ferry/cruise liners are legally obliged to have sufficient insurance cover in place as a consequence of the Athens Convention introduced in 1974 and updated in 2002. The situation can be little different for some smaller UK cruise companies but they still require a form of insurance sufficient to cover any potential liabilities.
Some of the more common injuries received as a consequence of accidents on cruise ships include:-
- Medical misdiagnosis
- Slips, trips and falls on deck
- Instances of passengers falling overboard
- Food poisoning and allergic reactions
This list is by no means exclusive but it does give you an idea of the often unique injuries associated with cruise ship holidays.
By far and away the vast majority of overseas injuries will occur to holidaymakers, often the victim of substandard equipment/procedures in hotels and resorts. In many ways this is the simpler form of an accident abroad compensation claim because very often there is a UK agent through whom the injured party can pursue compensation. The UK agent will then pursue their own case against the partner/associate ultimately liable for the accident/injuries and any compensation payments.
The more common holiday hotel injuries tend to include:-
- Slips and falls due to wet flooring
- Slips, trips and falls caused by faulty flooring
- Head injuries in and around hotel swimming pools
- Drowning is also far too common
- Broken bones from accidents around swimming pools
- Falls from balconies due to damaged masonry
- Defective equipment such as sun loungers
Again, this is not an exclusive list although it does give you an idea of the more common injuries associated with holiday hotel accidents.
Accidents in public places
The concept of liability is very strong across the developed world and many parts of the developing world. Therefore as you might look to claim compensation as a consequence of accidents in public places in the UK, there are also laws in place for such injuries received overseas. The types of accident abroad claims associated with public places tend to be varying forms of slips, trips and falls whether on public walkways or in private buildings. It may be that the local authorities/council is liable or in the event of a private building, the owner.
Claiming compensation from an agent for an accident abroad
When we talk about suing an agent for injuries received as a consequence of accidents abroad, we automatically tend to think of holiday companies. In reality, an agent could be any party who arranged an element of a visit overseas where a direct partner/associate was liable for an accident and resulting injuries. This could take in an array of different parties responsible for:-
- Local excursions
- Vehicle rental
- Training courses
- Teambuilding exercises
The above list is just a few common examples. In cases where a UK-based agent is responsible for the overall package, they would be your first port of call if you decided to pursue compensation.
Where a third party in an overseas country is being pursued for personal injury compensation as a consequence of negligence, any accident abroad claim would be made in line with local laws. These can obviously vary slightly from country to country so it is important that you are fully aware of the potential consequences. Unfortunately, many people automatically assume laws overseas are the same as the UK when sometimes there will be differences to a varying degree.
Accidents inside/outside of the European Union
It may surprise many people to learn that in the event of an accident in a foreign country, not involving a UK-based agent, the process is essentially the same. In theory it may be easier to communicate with fellow EU members but in reality there is no difference with regards to the procedure. Any claim would need to be registered in the country where the accident occurred although you can still pursue the claim from the UK via a personal injury claims solicitor. In reality, the days of difficult communication across continents have long gone with the Internet, email and other messaging systems proving to be a game changer.
Gathering evidence for an accident abroad claim
While it is easy to assume the evidence gathering process for accidents abroad is exactly the same as that in the UK, it probably does need to be more detailed. It is also very important to avoid issues regarding translations to and from foreign languages which can sometimes cause confusion. In the event of significant confusion between different party recollections this can significantly weaken what may well have been a strong case for compensation. The type of evidence required generally include:-
- Photographs of the scene
- Written timeline prior to the accident
- Warnings given/not given
- Witness statements (correct contact details are vital for foreign witnesses)
- Details of medical assistance required
- Note of injuries received on the day and any additional medical issues
- Confirmation your injuries have been reported to the parties responsible
Many UK personal injury claims solicitors will have experience in pursuing compensation for accidents abroad. Indeed some solicitors may well have overseas contacts in the industry who can advise in more detail about local legal differences.
How much compensation for an accident abroad?
It would be the responsibility of your personal injury claims solicitor to present a breakdown of your accident abroad claim for compensation. While it will obviously depend upon the country, and local laws, there may be some variation with regards to some elements of compensation. This may include the perceived impact on the victim’s personal and working life. The element related to direct costs incurred as a consequence of the injuries received is fairly straightforward. An an example, if it cost you £20,000 in medical fees and additional transport costs to get home then these should be included as part of the compensation settlement.
While it is obviously sensible to have some kind of travel insurance to cover costs in the event of accidents and injuries when overseas, this would have no impact upon whether or not a personal injury claims solicitor took on your claim. Indeed, as in the UK, where liability is fairly straightforward such a claim may never even reach the courts. Where negligence has been admitted the victim might also receive an interim compensation payment to cover any immediate expenses such as medical care/transport costs.
Accident abroad claims advice from a personal injury solicitor
If you have been injured abroad, as a consequence of an accident due to negligence, then you may well have a strong case to claim compensation from the parties involved. There are however two main issues to take into account, the scope of local laws which will dictate any compensation claim overseas and the reduced window of opportunity in areas such as air travel. You can however get free advice on an accident abroad claim from a personal injury solicitor by calling us on 0800 652 1345 or by using one of the forms on this page to set up a consultation.