If you have an accident abroad and your holiday was booked as part of a package, your tour operator is bound by “The Package Travel Regulations 1992” to ensure they deliver the highest level of safety to you and your family. If, however, you decide to go it alone and book your flights, hotel and extras separately it is not quite so simple to claim compensation for any mishaps you may encounter.
The term “Package” means the “pre-arranged combination of at least two of the following components when sold at an inclusive price and when the service covers a period of more than 24 hours or includes overnight accommodation”:
- Other tourist services not ancillary to transport or accommodation and accounting for a significant proportion of the package.
The package travel regulations ensure that if you do suffer an accident or illness abroad not only can you claim compensation directly from your tour operator but you can do so in the UK courts. This is provided your accident or illness occurred whilst within the grounds of the hotel complex. So if you injure yourself in a badly maintained hotel pool or contract food poisoning after eating meals from your hotel you are entitled to claim compensation under the regulations.
The regulations do not cover you for activities which have been arranged separately in resort or that occur outside of the hotel grounds, for example sports activities. You can not claim compensation from your tour operator for an injury sustained during an activity which may be deemed dangerous such as diving or paragliding as these would not have been booked as part of a package deal.
Where your holiday was not booked as part of a package it still may be possible in certain circumstances to make a claim in the UK but it is not quite as straightforward as claiming against your tour operator. In recent years developing European legislation has increased the possibility of obtaining compensation for foreign accidents through the courts of the country in which the victim lives; it’s all down to the second Treaty of Rome. It’s far from straightforward to interpret so legal advice is essential.
If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident abroad, for example a Road Traffic Accident, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of receiving compensation. You should always:
- Take photographs & measurements
- Take details of the other party
- Report the incident to the local police
- Seek medical attention straight away
- Retain all paperwork/receipts relating to the accident.
It is also important to remember that there is a time limit in which you must bring your claim. For most claims in the UK this is 3 years but each country’s law in respect to limitation is different. In some countries you have as little as one year so it is important to seek legal advice at your earliest opportunity. In some cases it may be necessary to seek advice from an expert in local standards; If this is the case then your solicitor should arrange this on your behalf.