Holidays are a welcome break from our normal day to day responsibilities, and when things go wrong we feel that we need to be rightly compensated for our inconvenience, whether this be misrepresentation of our hotel accommodation or lost luggage, our specialist solicitors can help resolve your issues.
Can I claim for an accident or injury abroad?
Does it matter if it was a package holiday or not?
You have more rights if you have booked a package holiday. This is because the package tour company is answerable for anything that goes wrong, providing you can prove it was somebody's fault. This applies anywhere in the world.
If you booked the different elements of your holiday independently you have less protection. This means, for example, if you use the internet to book your flight directly with the airline and your accommodation directly with the hotel it will be much harder to bring a claim if something goes wrong.
Can I make a claim if my hotel is poor quality?
If you have booked a package, the travel agent must ensure they have described the hotel and facilities accurately. For example, there must be a swimming pool if the brochure says there is one, or the beach must be within walking distance if that's what you are told.
The holiday must also be of a reasonable standard, bearing in mind the price and location. Obviously you would not expect a budget hotel to be the same as five star luxury. But you can expect basic standards to apply whatever the cost.
If your holiday cost more than £100 but less than £30,000 and you paid by credit card you can claim against the travel agent and the credit card company.
Can I still get compensation if I have signed a disclaimer for things like skiing, sailing or scuba diving?
It depends. Signing a disclaimer means you accept there are risks with these sorts of activities. You won't be able to claim if you were injured in line with these normal, accepted risks.
However, you may be able to claim if you are injured because of something like defective equipment, even if you signed a disclaimer.
Will my travel insurance cover any legal costs?
Some travel insurance policies have legal expenses insurance (LEI) attached. This means you get a certain amount of legal advice if you need to make a claim. If it doesn't have an LEI policy, it may not be much help.
Do I need to use a lawyer from the other country or can I use an English lawyer?
If you are making a claim for something that has happened on a package holiday, you can use an English lawyer as you will be claiming against the travel agent.
However, if you are making a claim about a holiday you have booked yourself, you might have to use a foreign lawyer.
Is there a time limit for making a claim?
In England and Wales, you have three years to make a claim for personal injury. For other sorts of claims, for example, inaccurate descriptions or poor quality, you have six years. If you claiming for an injury caused on an airline, you have two years.
These time limits will be different in other countries and the first question you should ask a foreign lawyer is how long you have to make a claim.
What are my rights if the operator cancels my holiday? Does this apply if I booked the holiday myself?
Again, you are better protected if you have booked a package holiday. Under the Package Travel Regulations the travel agent must offer you an alternative or a full refund and compensation. The only exception is if they cancel your holiday because of events outside their control, for example, terrorist attacks.
If you have booked your holiday directly yourself, whether you will get a refund or compensation will depend on the small print of the website or contract, so make sure you read it!
What can I do about lost luggage or flight delays and cancellations?
The Denied Boarding Regulation means you will get compensation and an alternative flight if your flight is cancelled or you are "bumped off". Your entitlement depends on the distance you are flying.
If your flight is delayed you are entitled to be looked after while you wait. This means you should get refreshments and sometimes accommodation. You should also given the opportunity to contact people to let them know what's happening. Ultimately, if there is a long delay, you can ask for your money back.
For more information on this, see the fact sheet on flight rights.
If your luggage is lost, you are entitled to compensation and you don't have to prove anyone was to blame.
What should I look out for when I am booking my holiday to try and avoid problems?
You should make sure you book with an agent that is signed up to a scheme such as the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) or the Association of British Tour Operators to France (ABTOF).
They have to comply with strict quality control and your money will be protected if they go out of business.
As with many of these issues, these schemes don't apply if you have booked your holiday independently. Although many of us now choose to book our holidays ourselves over the internet, for consumer protection it makes more sense to book a package.
Where can I get more information?
You can get more information about your travel and holiday rights from Consumer Direct. Please be aware that this is not legal advice and if you are concerned about any of the issues mentioned you should speak to a lawyer.
Call our Travel Rights & Consumer Law Solicitors on freephone 0808 175 8000 or contact us online.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the UK's largest and well known law firms with offices in Newcastle, London, Manchester, Ashton-Under Lyne, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Preston, Wakefield and Wrexham.