More and more UK travellers every year are affected by serious injuries caused by an accident on holiday. Many British holidaymakers travelling to foreign destinations will regard exotic gastric infections as the biggest danger to their health, but in fact these represent only a small proportion of medical issues involving travellers.
Simon Lomax, Simpson Millar LLP’s Accident Manager found, “Last year our specialist travel lawyers successfully dealt with hundreds of accident claims, from simple fractures to more serious brain injuries.”
Infectious diseases caused by food poisoning or contaminated swimming pool are dangerous, of course. But they are completely preventable, proper food safety as well as adequate vaccination will go a long way to minimising risks.
A traveller should employ similar strategies to avoid serious injuries on holiday, and avoid circumstances where there is a risk of being injured in the first place.
Accident Risks and UK Travellers
“Many holidaymakers will have paid out a substantial amount of money in the expectation of an enjoyable trip for themselves and their family or friends. The pressure is on to have a good time regardless of inconvenient safety rules and common sense. These pressures are often fuelled by alcohol, which means travellers often behave in a reckless and uncharacteristic manner whilst away.”
Common Sense Precautions Against Injuries
Unfortunately, not all British travellers appreciate that they face greater risks of everyday accidents abroad than they do at home. In unfamiliar surroundings, the enjoyment and carefree attitude that travel creates can increase the number of hazards faced.
Simon continues, “As a general rule, apply your usual safety standards even if the legal requirements in the destination you are visiting are lax. For example, drivers in the UK wear seat belts to comply with UK law. To stop doing so when you are driving on the opposite side of the road in a hire car would seem foolish, but many people do. The same applies to mopeds and helmets. The fact that in many parts of Greece, for example, local people transport their family to the beach on a motorcycle without wearing helmets and with a windbreak under one arm, doesn’t mean you should too!”
It is estimated that over 25% of travellers go away on holiday totally uninsured exposing themselves and their families to huge bills
The same common sense principles extend to safety in your hotel. Swimming pools will require special precaution particularly from parents with infants that cannot swim. Young children are vulnerable to serious injury and death near water so the responsibility for supervising minors should not be passed to their elder siblings.
Fires in hotels are all too common and smoke, reduced visibility, and panic are the most serious hazards. When you arrive at your holiday destination the first tendency is to visit the pool or bar but you should familiarise yourself with the safety notices on the back of your apartment door and establish your fire escape route. Ideally take a torch with you on holiday in case of an alarm at night, and in the event of a fire try above all else to stay calm. A torch is certainly not wasted baggage allowance as it will also help you to see pot holes, kerbs and unfinished pathways when navigating your way home at night.
Balcony falls cause at least 20 deaths to UK citizens yearly
Hotel balconies are often designed to look nice, but are they safe and secure? Check that the fixings are maintained, their height is sufficient (1.2 m) and there are no horizontal bars to allow children to climb. There are far too many balcony fall incidents causing serious injuries to those travelling abroad. Many are caused by alcohol, others by poor design because the balcony rail was not sufficient to stop overbalancing and falling.
Don’t Go Abroad without Travel Insurance
Finally, it is advisable to take out insurance in case you need medical treatment abroad. Unfortunately, it is estimated that over 25% of travellers go away on holiday totally uninsured exposing themselves and their families to huge bills. It is essential that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance and read the small print. Holiday makers should declare pre-existing medical conditions and make sure the travel insurance covers you for everything you want to do abroad.
Simpson Millar LLP’s Travel Lawyers Can Help You
There are countless ways in which the average UK traveller can suffer serious injuries abroad. Applying common sense precautions in unfamiliar surroundings will go a long way to keeping you and your family safe. If, however, you are injured because of the negligence of the hotel owner or your tour operator then the Package Travel Regulations will help you claim compensation for your injuries.
Always take advice from a travel lawyer before speaking to your tour operator directly particularly if you have suffered a serious injury on holiday. Simpson Millar LLP solicitors offer free initial advice.