If you or your family suffered from food poisoning or illness on holiday, you could be eligible to claim compensation. Slater and Gordon has acted for clients who have fallen ill and contracted holiday illness while travelling all over the world, securing thousands of pounds in compensation.
Tour operators have a legal duty to ensure that the hotels that provide them with services are compliant with international food safety standards and general hygiene procedures. If you have suffered illness through the negligence of the hotel and their failure to observe those standards, you may be entitled to claim.
Up to a quarter of Brits report having suffered from food poisoning whilst overseas. Holidaymakers who believe they have suffered from food poisoning should always seek medical help straight away as the consequences can be very serious if left untreated.
Types of holiday illness
Food poisoning is the most common type of holiday illness, but holidaymakers can also experience other types of sickness while abroad. For example, illnesses caused by:
- Incorrect waste disposal
- Poor maintenance of in-room appliances such as air conditioning units
- Cross-contamination by insects and animals
- Poor pool hygiene and maintenance
- Poor health and safety practices with regards to spas, pools and hot tubs, causing serious illnesses such as Legionnaires’ disease.
Causes of food poisoning on holiday
Salmonella is one of the more serious types of food poisoning that commonly affects holidaymakers. Salmonella is a bacterium that can be found in dairy products, meat and fish and can cause severe gastrointestinal problems including diarrhoea and vomiting, as well as fever. The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning can last for several days, but in most cases can be treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, Salmonella food poisoning can progress into more serious symptoms requiring hospital treatment, as well as causing long lasting effects.
Other common causes of food poisoning for travellers that we see include the Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Campylobacter, Shigella and Clostridium botulinum bacteria, all of which exhibit symptoms associated with Salmonella food poisoning.
Among the main causes of food poisoning are:
- Incorrect food handling
- Poor hygiene and cleaning practices in food preparation areas
- Poor temperature control
- Improper storage of food
- Contamination (for example, raw meat coming into contact with other food)
Not all cases of illness will be as a result of acts or omissions by the hotel or other food provider – sometimes we just get sick due to a change in diet or through too much sun. Contact Slater and Gordon and we will be able to tell you if you have a case or not.
Can I make a claim?
If you booked a package holiday and you mainly ate in hotel-run facilities before falling ill, you may have strong grounds for a holiday sickness claim. However, you can also seek compensation for other circumstances. Contact your personal injury lawyer for expert advice on whether you have a case.
What happens if my holiday was not a package holiday?
Even if you haven’t booked a package holiday, you may still be able to pursue a claim against the hotel and/or their insurers. Our experienced solicitors will need to have a look at the booking documents and speak to you about the booking process. We will then advise you where, and against whom, you should pursue your claim.
With the ability to book online being so widely available, an increasing number of tourists are finding it cheaper to book the different parts of their holiday with separate providers. Sometimes, the tourist will not necessarily realise that they are buying separate elements, because deals are sold already put together by travel agents. This is why it is always worth speaking to a specialist in holiday illness compensation claims to see if you have a case.
How much compensation for holiday sickness?
The amount you may expect to receive in compensation if you win your case depends on a number of different factors. You will need to provide details of what happened, your symptoms and how long your symptoms lasted. As well as compensation for pain, discomfort and a ruined holiday, you can also claim for other expenses. For example, medical fees, travel costs and other expenses related to the holiday you didn’t get the chance to enjoy.
If the holiday was for a special event such as a wedding, honeymoon, anniversary or birthday, this could also affect the amount you receive in compensation. Such landmark events inevitably incur additional costs, from booking venues to making special travel arrangements and paying for all those little extras that make your holiday really special.
The process of claiming for holiday sickness
If you suffer an illness whilst on holiday, taking the following steps will help us to help you:
- If possible, take a sample of the food you think caused your illness
- Take video footage or photographs of any poor food hygiene practices in the hotel
- Keep a food diary and make a note of what food and drink you have eaten, and from where, in the days before you became ill – it will be much easier for you to do this soon after contracting any illness, rather than trying to remember after you have returned home
- If there is widespread illness within the resort, take contact details of any other holidaymakers who have fallen ill
- Report your illness to the hotel and tour operator, and ask for written confirmation of your complaint.
- Record details or obtain evidence of any medication you have taken or been prescribed.
It’s important to seek legal advice as soon as you can after your holiday. The quicker you act, the more likely it is that you can make successful holiday sickness claims. Bring all of the details of what happened and as much evidence as you are able to gather to our experienced personal injury solicitors here at Slater and Gordon. We can then advise whether you have a valid case and whether your claim is likely to be successful, before starting and managing the process of claiming compensation on your behalf.
Time limits for claiming compensation
Time limits apply to holiday illness compensation claims, and those time limits vary from country to country. We would therefore advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible after your holiday for the best chance of success.
Will I need a medical examination?
A medical report from a qualified doctor will go a long way to supporting your claim for compensation. However, this kind of supporting evidence could be in the form of documentation or medicine you were given on holiday. Your medical history may also be reviewed, to rule out existing medical conditions which could have caused or contributed to the illness.
How do we claim if the whole family was ill?
The whole family, or several members of a group travelling together, often fall ill at the time when food poisoning is the culprit. You can claim compensation for the whole party, with one of you acting as the main point of contact. The other members of your party will need to agree to pursue a compensation claim, and adult family members can claim on behalf of any children who fell ill at the same time. To claim for a whole family, contact Slater and Gordon to start the process.
Will I need to go to court?
Most holiday illness compensation claims are settled out of court, with your solicitor conducting any necessary hearings or legal proceedings on your behalf. If you’re worried about having to make a claim through a foreign court, you should know that many claims can be made in the UK if the tour operator is based here. UK-based personal injury lawyers such as Slater and Gordon will also work closely with their counterparts in other countries to secure the best and quickest possible outcome for you.
How long will the claim take?
On average, holiday illness claims take around 12 months to complete, slightly longer than claims made for accident or illness within the UK. It all depends on the complexity of your case and whether more than one person fell ill during the trip. The holiday company you travelled with may also affect how long your claim takes. Legally, tour operators have 6 months to investigate your case.
The good news is that once you’ve provided the initial details and any evidence you’ve managed to obtain, you probably won’t need to do much else. Your personal injury solicitor will manage the whole process on your behalf, keeping you updated with the important developments you need to know about.
Even better, 98% of our holiday food poisoning claims are funded through a Conditional Fee Agreement, which is more commonly known as a no win, no fee agreement. This means there is no financial risk to you.
What are my rights when claiming for holiday sickness?
As a holidaymaker booking and paying for a holiday with a tour operator, you have certain rights with regards to the service and product you receive. If your holiday does not meet these standards, you could be entitled to claim for compensation.
The package travel regulations 1992
The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 allow holidaymakers to claim compensation if the package holiday does not match what is described. This applies to cases where you have been given misleading information, but it also applies to the standards of facilities – such as restaurants and bars, for example – in the hotel. Your solicitor can use this law to claim for loss of enjoyment, out of pocket expenses, loss of value and personal injury.
Additionally, the Athens Convention 1974 covers personal injury claims made by passengers who have suffered damage while at sea, such as on a cruise ship.
A British holidaymaker launched legal action with the help of Slater and Gordon's specialist lawyers against Thompson Holidays after his family holiday was ruined when he contracted salmonella poisoning. Read all about what happened here.
To find out more about people we’ve helped in holiday illness and other personal injury compensation claims, click here to read some of our recent case studies.
Why choose Slater and Gordon for your claim?
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the UK's largest and well known law firms with offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Preston, Watford and Wrexham.
We have decades of experience claiming compensation for customers whose well-earned breaks have been ruined by holiday illness that could have been prevented. Moreover, we have the knowledge to navigate the different rules and procedures involved in claiming in different countries as well as the UK courts.
Many solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers are members of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Pan European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers (PEOPIL).
Call our no win, no fee solicitors on freephone 0800 112 4665 or claim online and we’ll give you a call. Our UK contact centre is open 24 hours 365 days a year.