Wreak revenge for holiday hell

Know your rights if you get hurt abroad, write Warren Collins and Michael Imperato

You don't have to take part in hazardous sports to find yourself in hospital abroad. If you do have to claim, examine the small print on your travel insurance (see box). Many people don't realise they may also have a case against the tour operator itself.

Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 the tour operator may be liable for the acts of its sub-contractors, such as the hotel or a local day-trip organiser.

One case we dealt with at Russell, Jones & Walker involved a British tourist, Allison Seidlar, who was caught in a horrific accident in 1994. She had booked an expensive tour of Egypt, Jordon and Israel with Jules Verne Travel. While she was travelling in Egypt there was a torrential rainstorm and severe flooding on the roads. Despite warnings from the passengers, the coach driver and tour guide decided to press on with a journey through an affected area.

Not surprisingly, the coach broke down in the middle of torrential flood water, and the passengers had to try to escape through broken windows. Many were injured and one passenger drowned.

With the support of her union, we took Ms Seidlar's case against Jules Verne to court. Liability was denied throughout. Many of the other claimants had given up hope for compensation but, armed with evidence from doctors and a professor of Middle Eastern geography, she won a settlement based on the full value of the claim (running into thousands of pounds) days before a trial was due to take place.

Such claims are not always so simple. If a package holiday company is not liable, you may have to sue in the country where the incident took place. In England and Wales we have a three-year time limit for issuing proceedings in a personal injury action. Not all countries allow you this long to bring your case.

A solicitor's costs may be covered under your insurance and you should have the right to instruct a solicitor of your choice.

Finally, if you have a personal injury while you are abroad, don't put off dealing with it until you come home. Make sure you do the following:

n report what happened to the local police;

n keep receipts for all medical treatment and prescriptions;

n if you bring a case when you come home, ensure that you have obtained as much evidence as you can while abroad, such as a video or photographs of the scene, witness details, measurements of whatever it is you may have tripped over, for instance;

n check if there is a time limit by which you can claim under your own insurance;

n if you have to go to hospital, ask for a report on your injuries and treatment to bring home to your own doctor.

n Warren Collins and Michael Imperato are solicitors at Russell Jones & Walker, a firm which specialises in personal injury claims.


Benefit for death or injury

Nearly all policies will offer a fixed sum, often pounds 325,000, for death, loss of sight, a limb or permanent disability. "Permanent disability" is usually harshly applied. Often you must be so badly injured that you are not capable of any paid work, not just the job you usually do.

Medical expenses

This is fairly obvious. Make sure it includes a flight home by air ambulance. Many policies will also pay a hospital benefit of pounds 300 or more for every day you are in hospital. This usually means overnight stays.

Help lines

Some travel policies have 24-hour help lines. You should look out for these deals as they can be crucial to get you swift confirmation you can go ahead with medical treatment.

Exclusions for ill-health and dangerous sports

Most policies will have exclusions for people already receiving treatment or who have had some treatment in the past six months. This does not mean that you will not get cover; you may simply have to pay a bit extra. Double check what your policy defines as "a dangerous sport". On some policies it includes "organised football".


You may have to pay the first part of a claim yourself - typically pounds 330. If your claim covers several sections of cover you may have to pay a separate excess for each.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas