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How to Deal with Falls from Balconies Abroad

Balconies in a hotel abroad | What to do after suffering a balcony fall abroad


When you travel abroad, having booked your holiday as a package holiday with a tour operator, it is their responsibility to ensure you stay safe and well.

This means the operator MUST ensure your holiday accommodation is well maintained and of a ‘reasonable’ standard, including the balcony or any outside areas you may use.

Unfortunately, this does not help to prevent tens of falls from balconies every year – some of which may have been preventable and wholly avoidable.

Whilst I acknowledge that some of these incidents are linked to alcohol consumption or the worrying ‘balconing’ trend, which sees people jump between balconies or into the swimming pool from height, this is not always the case. Sadly, the victims of falls at hotels and holiday apartments – not just from balconies but also from windows and staircases – are often babies, children and the elderly.

In the rare instances where the victim does not sustain fatal injuries as a result of the tragedy, they usually suffer from serious, life-changing injuries.  My role, as an experienced travel litigation and serious accidents abroad specialist, is to establish whether the incident was avoidable or caused by a defective balcony at holiday accommodation. If the answer to either of these questions is yes, my job is to help secure justice for the victim and their loved ones.

How do we determine who’s responsible for a fall from a balcony abroad?

When dealing with claims for falls from balconies, it is important to establish whether the balcony complied with the relevant regulations.

Each country has its own health and safety standards and they may be different to those we are accustomed to here in the UK. Building regulations also vary depending on the country you visit, and often they are not as stringent as in the UK.

If it can be established that a balcony did not comply with the laws of the country where you were staying on holiday, it may be possible to pursue a  case.

If you booked your holiday as a package holiday through a tour operator, and something goes wrong which is not your fault, you are protected by the Package Travel Regulations 1992. Having failed in their responsibility to keep you safe and well, the tour operator would be liable and you could claim for compensation for your injuries and losses in the Courts of England and Wales.

If you have booked a flight and accommodation separately, the hotel itself could be prosecuted for failing to adhere to the correct safety standards and it may be possible to sue the hotel’s insurer in your own country.

In both of these circumstances, the party responsible for protecting your safety should have carried out a full health and safety audit of the balcony’s height and suitability, the quality of construction and any safety glass or materials used in the design.

Steps you can take to prevent falls from balconies

Dealing with claims for falls from balconies is never an easy or straightforward process, which is why I would advise anyone to take every step possible to prevent it from happening in the first place.

To do this, it’s a good idea to immediately report anything in your holiday accommodation that may be faulty or potentially dangerous to a member of hotel staff or a holiday representative.

Sometimes, balconies are constructed at too low a height or with rails which allow children to get through and fall.

If there is anything that’s a major cause for concern, ask to be moved to a ground floor room – especially if you have children or elderly relatives in your company.

5 top tips for using hotel balconies safely:

  • Never sunbathe on a balcony wall in case you fall asleep and fall.
  • Don’t sit on or lean over balcony walls or railings in case it is not load bearing.
  • Never leave balcony chairs or furniture next to a balcony railing or wall.
  • Always lock balcony doors when the area is not in use.
  • Never leave babies or children unsupervised on any balcony.


What to do if someone suffers a fall from height on holiday

Unfortunately, accidents will happen. When they do, it is important to take the appropriate steps to protect your rights or those of a loved one.

Irrespective of the fall’s severity and any injuries sustained, it is vital to adhere to the following checklist:

  • Take photographic evidence of the balcony, window or staircase where the incident happened.
  • Report the incident to the police, hotel staff and your holiday representative.
  • Collect any other evidence you can – such as names and contact details of any witnesses.

Obviously, the health and well-being of the person involved will be of primary concern – especially for their loved ones. But if you are dealing with the aftermath of an incident like this, it makes sense to get help and advice from an expert solicitor.

At Hudgell Solicitors, we are experienced at dealing with balcony falls abroad and we understand how important it is to secure justice for what has happened. If necessary, we can also try to secure early compensation payments to pay for any medical treatment or rehabilitation needs.

If you’re weighing up whether to pursue legal action, please complete our online call-back form or call our team to discuss your case. We will put you in contact with an expert solicitor who will carefully consider the strength of your claim and take into account the testing circumstances you face in order to get your life back on track.

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30/08/2017 No Comments

The ride of your life?

rollercoaster on holiday


As the summer season gets into full swing, many families will be looking forward to that much-anticipated break away, escaping to the sun, sea and sand of foreign lands for a week or two.

Whilst the adults might be happy enough to laze by the pool all day, chances are the kids might need a little more occupying and attention often turns to some of the local attractions, such as theme parks and waterparks.

Presented with a glossy brochure or website, families may be persuaded into booking excursions based on the strength of the images alone, which is often where problems can arise.

Although rides may appear controlled and well-maintained on the surface, safety regulations and standards abroad can often be less stringent than they are here in the UK. There have been several reports in the media lately, detailing horrific injuries sustained by holidaymakers abroad.

Dad-of-two, Jamie Norman, suffered serious injuries to his face, arms and legs after the trap door on a 60mph vertical slide didn’t open properly at the Aqualandia waterpark in Benidorm, Spain. Despite Mr Norman requiring medical attention, the slide re-opened after just 15 minutes.

Even more troubling was the death of a teenager who is believed to have fallen from the rollercoaster after a safety harness malfunctioned at nearby theme park, Terra Mitica,

Although rare, such incidents highlight the importance of carrying out detailed research ahead of visiting foreign attractions. The odd minor accident at such locations is, in all honesty, inevitable, but repeated reports of mechanical failures and dangerous near misses should instantly set alarm bells ringing.

Years of experience dealing with holiday claims has taught me that the great majority of travel companies protect themselves from accidents of this nature, particularly those involving alcohol or occurring within the resort complex. Loopholes included in the terms and conditions make it extremely difficult to make subsequent claims, so be sure to read the small print carefully when booking your holiday. Also watch out for excursions being sold by your rep in the resort. It may be that these are not covered under the package holiday.

And, above all, if you’re planning an adrenaline-fuelled day out when you get to your resport, ensure you have taken out a comprehensive insurance policy that covers the relevant activities. At least then, if, in the worst-case scenario, you do experience an accident abroad, you won’t be hit with a hefty medical bill for the privilege.

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01/08/2014 No Comments

Booze and balconies don’t mix

balcony on holiday


Imagine this; sitting on a balcony looking out over the sea, with glass of your favourite tipple, enjoying the sun go down; what could be better?

Knowing you are safe on your balcony would be a start.

Sadly the safety standards of balconies abroad are not always up to those of the UK; either in terms of how well they are fixed to the walls and floors, how close the railings need to be to each other or how high the railings have to be. This can pose significant problems when horseplay is involved or even when you are just relaxing.

Oisin Merritt, a young footballer from Donegal has fallen only yesterday (10/06/2014) and been placed in an induced coma and is currently fighting for his life after falling and breaking his skull. He was in Santa Ponsa, Majorca and his family have flown to the resort to be with him at this difficult time. This is hard on the heels of the death of Kay Flitcroft, 30, who was holidaying on the neighbouring island of Menorca only last week and fell 30 feet after watching the England v Peru match with her husband, Ben.

It is not only the risks of the balconies themselves; we have all seen those daredevils diving from their balconies into the pool, those people who have had a few too many and decided they might just be able to climb to their room faster than their friends can get to it using the stairs and those people who just need a breath of fresh air after a heavy night on the town…

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and ABTA has produced a leaflet that can be seen here:

Booze & Balconies Don’t Mix

Know the basics before you go; know the dangers and enjoy your holidays… but if you do have an accident, and it is not your fault, call our Holiday Claims experts on 0808 252 7043.

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11/06/2014 No Comments

First Choice’s Holiday Village Woes Continue…



We have recently posted that the Holiday Village Majorca seems to have an issue with sickness and diarrhoea thought to be caused by contaminated pool water however this is not the only hotel in this chain to have this issue; the Hotel Village Algarve seems to be currently experiencing similar issues, this is off the back of an outbreak at the Hotel Village Benalmadena last month.

We are aware of holidaymakers suffering with diarrhoea, cramps and vomiting; and children having itchy rashes, possibly linked to the pool water; a concern for any parent when the resort caters mainly for families with young children.

What is more concerning is we have spoken to a guest due to travel to this resort within a week, who has been told that there are no plans to accommodate her or her party of 3 under-5’s elsewhere. She has asked to remain anonymous but has expressed her concern for her friend with a serious bowel condition and the children in her party;

“When they have known about this illness for over a week now, and it will be two weeks when we go; I am furious that First Choice feel they can play Russian Roulette with our lives in this way”

TripAdvisor, an unbiased consumer based review site, has been inundated with comments;

“Me and my partner and 3 kids-8,6, baby of 9months,all came down with a form of vomiting and diarrhora [sic.] also my six year old came out with some horrible skin rash which I think came from a dirty pool-which I never see get cleaned.”

“I got the server [sic.] sickness and diarrhoea bug like many others in the hotel. Room was full of ants and kitchen work surfaces and dining table was never ever wiped when asked manager Jo why this was, her answer was the maids only make the beds and sweep!”

“…the main venue it smelt of sewage and the right hand ladies toilet leaked”

“I witnessed a maid clean up sick by using a dustpan and brush in the restaurant.”

“in the restaurant there is birds flying everywhere and dirty mouldy placemats.”

“We have just got back from a weeks holiday here and 7 out of 10 of our group all came down with a sickness and tummy bug … ruined out holiday !!”

“My 1yr old has had diahorrea [sic.] for most of the holiday and the 6yr has a skin infection from the pool. Nearly every child we saw around the pool had a sore chin which I am told by my dr it is due to poor water quality from the pools.”

“Food was uncovered and wasn’t Hot it was just room temperature. Also cold food didn’t seem very chilled either.”

“My 2 daughters also got diarrhoea and dry rashly skin, which I’m told is from dirty pool water. Reps wasn’t very helpful in the sickness bug matter and kept trying to shrug it off saying you can’t expect anything less from a hotel full of kids.”

These reports of general poor hygiene in the hotel complex and issues in the swimming pool seem to be a common feature of improper cleanliness. The standards observed are well below those we expect, particularly maids cleaning up vomit and bodily waste with dustpans and brushes; this does not kill infection. This is a severe concern for those coming back from the Holiday Village, those still in residence and those yet to travel.

If you have been affected by this outbreak, or any other holiday illness in the last 3 years please contact one of our experts for a free discussion regarding your potential No Win – No Fee claim.

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05/06/2014 No Comments

Thomas Cook counting the cost of flight delay

aeroplane in sky


Thomas Cook Airlines will be preparing to count the cost of staff shortages and sickness when their lack of crew delayed a number of flights on Sunday 31 May 2014.

The 06.00 flight from Bristol to Ibiza and the 06.45 to Mallorca were left on the tarmac with customers waiting at check in with only a clock to watch as their holidays ticked away. 11 hours passed without moving a muscle from the airport, before they were taken to a hotel overnight, although the bus forgot to bring them back the next day… they finally took off at 18.30; over 24 hours late.

Meanwhile, a similar story unfolded in Palma and Ibiza for those holidaymakers coming home.

Whilst everyone appreciates that extraordinary things can happen and the best laid plans go awry; staff sickness should not be one of them. There are provisions under EC Regulation 261 of 2004 for compensation of set amounts of between €250 and €600 per person, regardless of how much your flight cost you.  The amount you receive depends on how far your journey is and how long you are delayed.

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03/06/2014 No Comments

Need to make a holiday claim?

woman relaxing on beach


Holidays – great, aren’t they?  A chance to spend time with your family and friends – to empty your mind of all the things in your life that give you hassle and strain.  A time to relax and to do the things you really enjoy.  Why else would you hand over a sizeable chunk of your hard-earned money if it wasn’t going to be just that?

And when you get back, you’ll slide back into your normal routine, refreshed and reinvigorated, ready to face new challenges, and the old ones!  At least that’s the theory.

But it doesn’t always turn out quite like that.  Things can go wrong.  You know, it’s the ‘that will never happen to me’ scenario.  Just when things are going really well, and you’re feeling more and more relaxed, something happens that brings a sudden and abrupt end to the party.

An accident or illness, for example – either of them can turn your holiday into a nightmare.

Without wishing to look at the world of holidays through darkened glasses – I always try to stay positive and upbeat! – there are so many stories in the media where people have had their holidays ruined by negligence on the part of airlines, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, cruise companies – you name it; food poisoning, swimming pool injuries, falls and trips and sometimes worse….

But hold on – people are much more savvy nowadays about their legal rights when they’re victims of negligence, aren’t they?  Don’t you just go to Google to get all the answers?

Well, with holidays it’s just not that simple; you can spend your time looking into all the rules and regulations of here, there and everywhere and, if you don’t know what you are looking for, you can find yourself going down a lot of blind alleys.

When you’re home, and you’re busy refocusing on your return to ‘normal’ life, the last thing you need is the strain and hassle of endless phone calls, piles of paperwork, unacknowledged correspondence, endless options on a telephone line.  A nightmare.

The alternative, of course, is to leave the hassle to me: a specialist in the area of holiday claims at Neil Hudgell Solicitors.  I spend my time checking the Booking Terms, the brochures, the current Regulations and chasing up responses, in fact anything and everything that needs to be done to establish the facts and to recover compensation where we can establish blame. Once they’ve given me all the information I need to start the process, I leave them to get on with their lives while I fight their corner, and, naturally, all on a no-win-no-fee basis.

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10/04/2014 No Comments

Don’t let your holiday dreams turn into a nightmare

woman on beach holiday


As millions of UK holidaymakers prepare for their main summer vacation their dreams are of sun-kissed shores, golden beaches and plentiful food and drink.

But what happens if your dreams are short-lived and that ideal holiday that you’ve worked so hard all year to pay for turns into a nightmare as you’re taken ill or injured whilst abroad.

Sean Gordon, Senior Manager and Solicitor from personal injury specialists Neil Hudgell Solicitors, offers some expert advice and guidance on how to avoid the holiday from hell.

Vaccinations

Before you go, check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) about what vaccinations are needed for the area you’re visiting. If you’ve checked with the FCO and you’re still unsure, ask your doctor as he’ll be able to give you advice on what precautions are needed for where.

You should make sure you leave plenty of time for your vaccinations to work as some drugs need time to build up in your system.

European Health Insurance Card

For all your travels, make sure you’ve got a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is available from the Department of Health, and gives you access to state-provided healthcare in all 30 European Economic Area (EEA) countries, as well as Switzerland, at a reduced cost or sometimes even free of charge.

You need to remember however that free healthcare doesn’t apply in all countries, and you may be asked to pay for some care or for medications.

Reciprocal Healthcare Arrangements

The UK has agreements with around 20 countries – including Turkmenistan, Russia and New Zealand – whereby some free care may be available.

Travel Insurance

When travelling abroad, you should always ensure you have the right insurance policy in place. Key things to remember are:

  • Be honest and declare any pre-existing medical conditions, even if you end up paying more for your cover. The alternative is that you may find you’re unable to claim at a critical moment.
  • Check the cover applies to activities you may want to engage in. For example, some policies want you to tell them if you intend to play golf or tennis.
  • Always make sure you have enough cover. In some countries, for example the US, even £2 million may not be enough.

Make sure you take a copy of the policy with you on holiday. Don’t take the original in case it gets lost, but a copy should always be to hand. This will tell you the exact way to get help in an emergency and may also be useful if you find yourself arguing with someone over the phone.

If you have emergency repatriation cover and your medical condition permits it, consider the possibility of going back home early. But if you’re offered a return on a scheduled flight, check staff on it are equipped to care for you or that you will be accompanied.

Make sure that any doctor or hospital knows that you’ve taken out medical insurance and what it covers.  Make sure that any copy policy which you give to them is returned to you, once they in turn have taken a copy for their records.

If you need to buy any medicines whilst you’re abroad then keep both receipts and original prescriptions, and of course make sure that all instructions that you are provided with are in English, so that you know for sure that you have the correct medicine, and are taking it as directed.

Finally, in the event of a claim, you must ensure you follow the procedure detailed on any insurance policy to the letter.

Treating Minor Injuries

If you get a scrape or a cut you should always keep it clean and apply antiseptic.

Healthy Eating

Always try and be a fussy eater. Avoid undercooked meat and shellfish and salads as these might not have been washed in safe water. Always avoid drinking tap water or untreated water.

If you become unwell as a result of eating or drinking something contaminated, be sure to make a note of all the items that you have eaten or drunk for the previous 24 hours, and where they were consumed or purchased from.

Also be sure to report any incidents of food poisoning as soon as possible (see “Holiday Complaints” below), and make a note of the names and addresses of anybody else that you come across who became ill after eating or drinking the same items, or purchasing food or drink from the same supplier.

Arrange for a stool or vomit sample to be provided to a medical practitioner as soon as possible after you start suffering from the symptoms, in order that the cause of your illness can be identified as likely to have been caused by contaminated food or drink.

Sun Protection

Protect yourself with a high-factor sun lotion. The best is 15 SPF and above.

Temperature

If you start to feel unwell and your temperature increases (+38C) check your temperature every three to four hours. Not all fevers require medical attention but if yours persists then always seek the advice of a health professional.

Language Barrier

Avoid any language barriers and if you need a doctor or nurse try and get one who speaks English. If in doubt, contact the British Embassy or Consulate of the country you’re travelling in.

Holiday Complaints

If you’re not happy with any aspect of the holiday, it’s always best to register your dissatisfaction with the holiday representative or accommodation provider whilst you are on holiday.   Keep notes of your complaint, who you complained to, when you had the discussions and what was agreed.

Photographic and video evidence is also always useful, if you have been injured as the result of a dangerous or defective footpath; hotel room or other hazard, in respect of which you may be able to seek compensation.  Make sure these are taken as soon as possible, as any complaint you make may result in the hazard being put right (and your evidence disappearing).

And, importantly, keep any receipts for expenses incurred as a result of your complaint.

Neil Hudgell Solicitors are specialists in handling claims relating to holiday illness.  Every year we resolve cases for holidaymakers.  Whilst the compensation cannot often make up for the distress or ill health suffered as a result of a holiday, it can help mitigate any financial expenses incurred or cover the costs of any further treatment or rehabilitation required.

For more information please contact our specialists on 0800 321 3322

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10/06/2013 No Comments

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