19 August 2010
Foreign Accidents: Ruining Your Holiday
We are now in the holiday season. Those of us who are lucky enough to escape what is rapidly turning into a “British Summer” will find ourselves in such far away places as the United States, Caribbean or even closer to home such as in Spain. Part of the holiday is likely to involve some travel. Perhaps a hire car will be used and travelling in a foreign country is no different to travelling in the UK in that we all face risks on the road and also on occasion, risks in the resorts that we use such as in the hotel or pool. For the vast majority of us our holiday plans go without a hitch. For the unlucky ones an accident abroad involves an injury and perhaps even treatment at a local hospital.
The law in relation to such claims once successfully repatriated to the UK (and hopefully there is holiday insurance on which to claim), is that a claim can be brought against the tour company under the Package Tour Regulations if there are at least two elements of the holiday that are booked through the tour company and we can establish fault. If, for example, the flight and hotel are booked through a tour company and the accident occurred when you slipped on steps in the hotel because water collected on them after plants were watered, a claim can be brought against the tour company for the negligence of the hotel employee.
If however, the accident involves a road traffic accident on foreign soil, the claim will still be brought against the driver however, where the claim is brought (sometimes called the forum) depends very much on the location where the accident occurred.
In some European countries the level of damages that you would expect to receive for your injuries and losses is very modest indeed. In the US of course one expects large levels of damages and we are regularly in contact, since each state generally deals with matters differently and any lawyer instructed as an agent must be qualified to act as a lawyer in that state or at the local Bar.
If instead the accident occurred in Europe, the Rome Convention (currently known as Rome II) allows for such claims to be brought in this country rather than for example in Spain or Italy. The argument is that whilst local customs apply in respect of liability, the level of damages should be the level of damages that you would expect to receive had the accident occurred in England or Wales and we have a number of European lawyers we use if there is any dispute as to liability.
Always remember the importance of evidence and obtaining details of any witnesses who are able to assist. This applies also to notifying the local police if a road traffic accident has occurred.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.