Accidents Abroad

I was injured in a holiday accident – what are my compensation rights?

holiday accident and injury
10 min read time
03 Aug 2022

Holidays are meant to be a time when everything is right with life, whether it’s lying on that poolside lounger, sailing away on that long saved for cruise or that fly-drive adventure that you’ve planned for so long.

Fingers crossed your trip is all you hoped it would be, and more!

But it’s worth remembering what your rights are if you’re injured or have an accident while abroad.

UK Government figures show more than 2,600 Brits found themselves in a foreign hospital in 2019.

Unfortunately holiday accidents do happen, but in many cases you can claim compensation. Here’s a look at the most common holiday accident claims and what your rights are:

Accidents on planes and at airports

Sitting in your plane seat should really be an uneventful part of your trip but accidents and mishaps are not uncommon.

If a hot drink is spilt on you through no fault of your own, or if an item falls from an overhead locker injuring you, damages could be awarded.

Airline travel is governed by what is called ‘The Montreal Convention’, this imposes a form of strict liability on airlines when it comes to death or personal injury during a flight or when in the process of embarking or disembarking.

What this means is that you do not necessarily have to prove fault.  However, the person must establish that there has been an accident to make a holiday injury claim.

Drinks trolley on plane

Under the Montreal Convention one of our clients was recently awarded £11,000 after his knee was injured when a drinks trolley hit him as it was being wheeled down the aisle.

The case was settled out of court and without the airline admitting liability.

Read more: Damages awarded after drinks trolley hit passenger’s knee

Successful claims are not just limited to accidents on planes, damages can be awarded if you are injured while embarking or disembarking.

Another client, a 70-year-old holidaymaker, was awarded £10,000 after being thrown from her seat when travelling on a bus taking passengers from the airport to board the plane.

The woman had been on her way back to the UK following a holiday in Tenerife when the bus stopped suddenly causing her to fall.

Read more: Holidaymaker awarded damages after fall on airport bus

What other in-flight incidents can lead to damages claim?

  • Collision on the runway
  • Spilt hot drinks
  • Luggage falling from overhead lockers
  • Defective seats
  • Slips, trips or falls within the aircraft

Read More: Passenger wins damages after being scalded on easyJet flight

Hotel, apartment, caravan or camping site accidents

Slips by the pool, walking into glass doors or even food poisoning are some of the common causes of getting injured or becoming ill at your holiday accommodation along with faulty equipment or electrical items.

If you should experience any of those while abroad, you may be entitled to make a claim, especially if you have booked a package holiday as you are covered by the benefits of the Package Travel Regulations.

The main advantage is that any case which can be brought under the Regulations can be heard in a court in this country, using the laws and established legal processes of England and Wales. This is much more convenient, cost effective, quicker and makes it easier to resolve disputes.

One client, had to cut short her holiday to Portugal after she fell on a hotel’s wet floor while carrying cups of tea, striking her head and scalding herself.

A small section of the floor had just been mopped by staff, but no hazard signs had been placed in the area.

Read more: Woman awarded £8,000 after slipping on hotel wet floor

Another client, a 39-year-old man, was walking from his hotel swimming pool in Turkey to the changing rooms when he slipped on a wet floor and broke his wrist. There was no rubber matting or other non-slip flooring and no warning signs.

Read more: Holidaymaker awarded £7,000 after slipping at hotel pool area

Poor maintenance at your accommodation could also lead to illness.

A 62-year-old woman from the West Midlands, spent two weeks at the Hard Rock Hotel in Goa on a package holiday booked through tour operator TUI.

She was severely ill when she returned home and needed hospital treatment after being diagnosed with pneumonia and Legionnaires’ disease.

It was alleged that she had been exposed either through the hotel bedroom air conditioning or through ‘mist fans’ aimed at keeping guests cool outside.

Read more: Woman awarded £6,750 after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after trip to Goa

A good way of checking you have booked a package holiday is if it is all priced together in one inclusive deal, if so, it is likely to be a true package holiday.

Read More: How the Package Travel Regulations offer protection & peace of mind

Accidents on cruise ships

Cruise Ship Holiday passengers

Thousands of UK holidaymakers relax on cruise ship holidays every year. It should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but they can be ruined by injury or illness.

Whenever you embark on a cruise, the crew, cruise carrier and tour operator have a duty of care to you as a passenger.

Having successfully launched claims against several well-known tour and cruise operators, our cruise ship accident lawyers are extremely experienced in this field.

In one recent case a cruise operator agreed a £19,000 damages settlement with our client who was left with permanent scarring to her face after being hit by a water bottle dropped by a waiter. It ruined what was meant to be a ‘dream holiday of a lifetime’.

Read more: £19,000 damages for cruise ship passenger left with facial scar

In another case a woman and her husband were on a TUI Marella Cruises 14-day trip of the Caribbean.

Halfway through, the couple were on the open deck when the woman moved towards a sun lounger to sit down. However, it flipped as a result of windy conditions and hit her above her eye.

Our client required stitches and eventually our travel litigation experts secured a damages settlement of £7,750 for her.

In this case Hudgell Solicitors cited the Athens Convention during the claim. The international carriage of passengers by sea is governed under English law by the Athens Convention 1974 and provides for compensation in the case of death or injury to passengers on ships engaged in international voyages.

Read more: Clients make cruise ship accident claims after injuries ‘ruin’ their trips at sea

Accident at sea claims are not just limited to traditional passenger vessels like ocean liners; they also apply to ferries, pleasure craft, yachts, jet skis, a pedalo and speed boats. If you suffer an accident or injury that was caused by poor safety measures or as a result of someone else’s negligence, you could bring a case against them.

Road Traffic Accidents Abroad

Two thirds of Brits who have driven abroad have run into problems and tourists are three times more likely to be involved in a road accident than local drivers – a recent survey shows nearly a third (31%) have driven on the wrong side of the road.

No matter where in the world it happens, a road traffic accident can have a life-changing impact.

Our travel experts represented a 13-year-old girl who suffered long-lasting physical injuries and emotional impact after a Spanish motorist collided with the family rental car when they were on holiday in Spain. Thankfully, all passengers were wearing a seatbelt.

Liability was admitted by the Spanish insurer and damages for a significant five-figure sum were awarded to our client.

Read more: Teenage girl sustains physical and emotional scarring after Spanish motorway collision

The law concerning road traffic accident claims abroad differ between countries.

At Hudgell Solicitors we work with a network of lawyers across the world, and have settled claims for accidents involving cars, HGVs, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians — so you’re guaranteed expert legal representation whatever your circumstances.

Ski Holiday Accidents

Let’s face it, skiing and snowboarding are two of the most high-risk winter sports activities you can take part in – due largely to a combination of speed and relative inexperience from participants.

Unfortunately, this means that injuries are a common occurrence on the slopes.  You may be entitled to make a claim if the accident was:

  • Caused by the negligent actions of another skier.
  • Created by a hidden obstruction you could not be expected to anticipate – such as a snow mobile parked around a corner.
  • Due to the negligent care of a ski guide or tour representative.
  • Due to poor ski school instruction or teaching unsafe techniques.
  • Caused by faulty equipment (skis, bindings, ski lift or tow).

Should an injury occur whilst taking part in an activity that’s been booked as part of a package holiday, it could be possible to claim compensation from the tour operator if reasonable precautions were not taken to protect you from foreseeable harm.

Unfortunately, more than half of all holidaymakers who are planning to take part in a winter sports activity abroad do not fully understand why they need to buy a specialist travel insurance policy.

Always take out an appropriate level of cover that suits your needs as this will help meet the costs should any medical expenses be incurred. Otherwise, you may not be covered in certain circumstances or only covered up to a certain amount.

Read more: Am I entitled to make a skiing accident claim?

When booking a trip it’s worth remembering that you get peace of mind booking a package holiday because of the added benefits that the Package Travel Regulations give consumers.

Holiday claims made under the Package Travel Regulations usually fall into the following four categories:

  • Personal injury: Compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity of any injury or illness sustained abroad.
  • Diminution in value: The difference between the amount you paid for the package holiday and what you actually received; sometimes known as “loss of bargain”.
  • Loss of enjoyment: Compensation for the distress and disappointment caused by things going wrong.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses: Any reasonable expenses you were forced to incur as a result of your injury or illness.

Not every claim falls into every category. My advice if you’ve been affected by any of the circumstances outlined above is to seek specialist legal advice.

Always do so as quickly as possible because, if the Regulations do not apply, the time limits for pursuing a claim do differ from country to country. In some circumstances, these can vary from one year from the date of the incident in Spain to three years in England and Wales.

If you’ve recognised that you or a member of your family has come to harm as a result of an injury because of the actions of someone else, then you have the right to make an accident on holiday claim.

The first step is to get in touch. You can begin by contacting us via our claim form and selecting Holiday Accident.

Read more: Accidents and Illnesses Abroad

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I was injured in a holiday accident – what are my compensation rights?

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