What to do if you suffer an injury while on holiday abroad

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Jet-setting abroad and lounging about on a beach is the aim of many now that the summer is here – but sometimes holidays aren’t relaxing.

If you experience an accident while abroad, that blissful vacation bubble can soon turn into something of a nightmare. Here's what to do if you suffer an injury while on holiday overseas.

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Seek medical attention

If you need urgent medical attention, your first port of call should be to contact the emergency services.

The emergency contact number in all European Union member states is 112, and is free to call 24 hours every day.

If travelling outside of Europe, the SOS app is a handy tool for finding an emergency number, with more than 130 countries in the directory.

If you require medical attention during a trip to an EU country, make sure to have your European Health Insurance Card with you, to make admin and reimbursement for your treatment much easier.

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Health care systems will vary from one country to another, meaning in some you may be required to pay for treatment upfront.

Alternatively your travel insurer should offer 24 hour emergency assistance, so you should contact them immediately for advice.

Contact your travel insurance provider

Protecting yourself before going abroad is key in case you suffer an accident or illness during your trip.

Joshua Hughes, head of complex injury at Bolt Burdon Kemp law firm, advises on the steps you should take if faced with an injury while on holiday, and what you’ll need to make a legal claim.

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The first step should be to contact your travel insurance provider immediately, to ensure you are provided with all available medical and non-medical support.

Often, those injured abroad can fail to notify their insurer and end up paying thousands of pounds for treatment, therapies and accommodation, without realising support may be available from their insurer.

You should contact your travel insurance provider immediately if you suffer an injury abroad (Photo: Shutterstock)

Failure to notify your insurer may also impact on your ability to recover incurred expenses.

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If you have booked a package holiday, you may be entitled to additional protection.

You should contact your travel agent immediately in these circumstances, and they will be able to advise.

Gather evidence

In the event of an accident, try to gather details of witnesses who may be able to corroborate the details of what happened.

In extreme examples, a claim for personal injury can fail where witnesses cannot be traced who might otherwise have supported your claim, so gathering as much evidence as possible is important.

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In the event of an accident, you should gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim (Photo: Shutterstock)

Keep records

As well as evidence from witnesses, take photographs to help demonstrate what caused your accident and injuries.

For example, if you were involved in a road traffic accident, photographs of the aftermath and positioning of vehicles may assist, and if the police have been involved, retain the details of those dealing with the incident.

You should also retain and record evidence of the expenditure incurred as a result of the accident, such as taxi or medical receipts, as these will assist your solicitor when it comes to recovering the costs.

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Which accidents are the most common abroad?

Despite the prevalence of potholes in the UK, we are fortunate to enjoy well maintained and safe highways, and we have a Highway Code and traffic laws acting as a deterrent to poor driving practices.

This isn’t always the same in other countries, so enquiries regarding injuries in road traffic accidents, either as a driver or passenger, occur regularly.

Incidents also commonly arise from recreational activities abroad, such as sailing, diving or skiing accidents.

What are the typical costs for making a claim?

If the claim can be brought in the UK Courts, certain firms will represent it under a No Win, No Fee Agreement, which in general terms means you don’t have to pay for your legal representation.

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In high value claims involving serious injuries, legal costs in securing compensation will often rise to tens of thousands of pounds – sometimes higher.

Expenses incurred by you as a result of your injuries, including medical treatment received abroad (which can run into the tens of thousands), are usually claimed as part of your overall damages claim.

Injuries commonly arise from recreational activities abroad, such as jet skiing, diving and sailing (Photo: Shutterstock)

Insurance policies

Insurance policies will frequently cover you for summer activities and excursions for a small additional cost.

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However, it is vital that you check with the insurance company as to the extent of your cover before you leave.

Coverage for sports and other adventure, or hazardous activities, will vary from provider to provider, so you must ensure the policy suits your trip.

When to seek legal advice

If you have sustained an injury following an accident abroad which was not your fault, legal advice should be sought as soon as possible, so steps can be taken to assist with your recovery and rehabilitation.

[Main image: Shutterstock]