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Compensation for Holiday & Overseas Injuries

If you’ve suffered an injury on holiday, or while you were overseas, and it wasn’t your fault, you could be eligible to claim compensation.

Suffering an injury while on holiday

For most of us, our annual holiday is the biggest investment we make every year, particularly if it’s to another country. The prospect of holidaying abroad is even more appealing in the post-pandemic when, for a year or two, international travel had been heavily restricted in an effort to contain the spread of covid-19. The summer of 2022 has seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of people taking advantage of their regained freedom to travel on holiday – but with this comes the inevitable increase in holiday accidents and illness.

After months of saving, planning and anticipation it can be hugely traumatic to suffer an injury on holiday, and even more so if the injury was caused by the negligence of someone else. You may have injured yourself in a leisure pool, in a car accident or suffered food poisoning after eating in your hotel. Whatever the cause of your accident or illness, if it was someone else’s fault you should be able to make a no win no fee* claim for compensation.

If you or a loved one has recently been hurt or fallen ill while on holiday, get prompt medical advice and tell your tour operator (if you’re on a package holiday). You should also make sure your holiday accident is reported where possible and check the terms of your travel insurance.

For the best chance of winning the compensation you deserve, seek the legal assistance of specialist solicitors at a law firm experienced in holiday accident claims. To find out whether you can make a claim for holiday accident compensation for injuries sustained abroad, get in touch for a free consultation on 0800 234 6438. If you prefer, complete the online contact form and request a call back to discuss the compensation claims process.


In 2021, UK residents took just 19.1m trips overseas compared to 93.1m in 2019, reflecting the impact of covid-19 on travel.


Can I make a claim for an accident while away on holiday?

It’s natural to doubt whether you could claim for an accident abroad, however, it is still possible to bring a claim – even after you’re returned home. While the legal situation may be more complex because of differing rules in other jurisdictions and the inevitable effects of Brexit, with expert legal advice from specialist solicitors there’s no reason why you can’t bring a claim for compensation.

The essential starting point is – if you’ve suffered a holiday accident abroad, compensation should be due to you if someone else was responsible for what happened. Call today for a free initial consultation on 0800 234 6438 or complete the online contact form and request a call back to discuss your compensation claim.


In 2021, Britons spent 18 nights abroad on average, compared to just 10 nights in 2019.


What are the most common causes of holiday accident?

Injuries abroad can be caused in just about any situation you might find yourself in on holiday. However, the most common causes of illness and injury for holiday makers include:

  • Cycling and road accidents
  • Skiing accidents
  • Cruise ship accidents
  • Food and carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Legionnaires disease
  • Aviation, aircraft and helicopter accidents
  • Leisure accidents, ranging from swimming to sky diving accidents
  • Faulty hotel equipment

What are the most common types of injury abroad?

Holiday accidents can lead to all kinds of injury, ranging from minor cuts, bruises and soft tissue injuries, to serious injuries and death. However, the most common forms of injury suffered abroad include:

  • Broken bones
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Slip and trip injuries
  • Water injuries and drowning
  • Scalds, burns and serious sunburn
  • Spinal injuries

Where accidents abroad happen and it was not the fault of the injured holiday maker, it’s unfair that their holiday should be ruined by the pain and injury caused by another person’s negligence. Even if your injuries are minor, the most important step you can take is to get in touch with a specialist personal injury solicitor to find out how you can make a holiday accident claim following your injury abroad.

Telephone for free advice on 0800 234 6438 or simply complete the online contact form and request a call back to discuss your holiday accident compensation claim.

What are the duties of tour operators?

Tour operators are under a duty to ensure that their customers’ accommodation is safe and hygienic, and that they are not unreasonably exposed to the risk of injury, disease or infection. Unfortunately, there are instances where tour operators fail to discharge their duties, increasing the risk of someone suffering an accident on holiday.

And if you’re injured you should be able to expect tour operator representatives to look after you if you’re injured – even if the operator was responsible.

If you believe the operator was to blame for the incident, the burden is on you to prove that they failed to discharge their duty of care or were negligent. Once you’re back home in the UK, it can be trickier to prove this unless you’ve collected sufficient evidence at the time and soon after the incident. So if you’re still on holiday, get as much evidence as you can while you’re there – this will improve your chances of making a successful holiday accident claim.

What will I have to prove for a successful holiday accident claim?

In any personal injury claim, there are three facts which must be established:

  1. The person or company you’re claiming against owed you a duty of care to keep safe from the risk of injury
  2. They breached that duty and an accident happened as a direct result
  3. You suffer injury or illness because of their breach or negligence

In the case of an overseas holiday accident claim, demonstrating each of these facts may be more challenging. For example, your solicitor will need to consider local safety procedures and standards in the relevant country.

In many holiday accident claims, responsibility for the accident will be pretty clear. However, claimants are often surprised to find that the other party vociferously denies responsibility in the immediate aftermath of an event, but becomes much more amenable once legal action is threatened.

Indeed, the majority of accident claims are settled out of court when the other party accepts that defending it will most likely be futile and expensive to argue further. That’s why it’s vital that you speak with a personal injury lawyer who’s experienced in making holiday accident claims. They are best placed to build a strong case and ensure you’re awarded a fair level of compensation.

How are holiday claims dealt with?

How holiday injury claims are dealt with depends upon whether the injured person was travelling as part of a package deal or independently; and where the accident abroad actually took place. Holiday accident claims that arise because of an incident that happened during and as part of a package holiday are relatively straightforward as the tour operator will invariably be legally responsible.

However, an accident that happened while out in public, for example while out for a walk in the town or a road traffic accident, could be more complicated. Similarly, accidents abroad that happen in circumstances where you’ve arranged the travel and holiday on your own may be more difficult. It may, for instance, mean that the courts in the foreign country where the accident happened will deal with the claim, rather than in England and Wales.

Your solicitor will, therefore, need to liaise or partner with a foreign lawyer to ensure you have local representation. It’s reassuring to know that experienced holiday accident solicitors typically have local contacts who are personal injury lawyers in different jurisdictions who can assist in claims for Britons where accidents abroad took place.

Has Brexit made it harder to claim for an accident abroad?

Not in any meaningful way because Brexit resulted in minimal changes to personal injury claims following accidents abroad. Perhaps the most notable change relates to the availability of compensation for injured rail passengers under 2007 regulations: the Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/1165  limits protection to rail journeys only in the UK.

That said, it is more important than ever to have your case run by a solicitor who is experienced in cross-border injury compensation claims. They will need to determine whether your claim can be brought in the English courts; how any proceedings can be served in the relevant country; which laws – UK or the other country’s laws – will apply to the issues in questions; and whether a local solicitor that speaks English can assist with local legal services.

Could I sue the package holiday operator?

The laws covering package deals are set out in the 2018 Package Travel Regulations (as amended). This legislation states that tour operators are legally responsible for their customers while they are at the hotel complex or partake in activities that form part of package holidays. In these cases, the regulations allow you to claim directly from your tour operator in the courts in England and Wales.

So where this reflects your experience, you should be able to pursue a claim against the package provider in the UK. If, for instance, you head off for a night out independent of the package holiday provider, and you’re subsequently injured in a bar, the provider cannot be held legally responsible. Instead, you would need to consider suing the bar operator or another individual.

A package holiday is defined relatively widely and includes a combination of at last two different types of travel services for a holiday/trip:

  • if provided by the same trader, paid for at the same time and as an inclusive package; or
  • provided by separate traders but through ‘linked’ online booking processes

These provisions make it more difficult for one provider to deny responsibility for an accident or injury. However, the rules are complex and how they apply to your particular holiday and travel arrangements will be for your solicitor to determine and advise.

For example, the regulations state that if your UK based travel agent has sold you a package holiday, but they later add an additional night at the airport hotel to help you catch the early morning flight home, it may well not form part of your package holiday. If you were to be injured while staying at that hotel, you probably can’t sue your tour operator. This illustrates why it’s so important to discuss the exact circumstances of your accident abroad with personal injury experts so that you know where you stand legally.

Once your solicitor has identified who should be held responsible for your injuries, they will have to demonstrate that, on balance, your holiday provider failed to fulfil its duty of care to keep you free from the risk of injury.


Out of 62.7m international passenger movements at UK airports in 2020, 71% travelled to and from Europe alone.

SOURCE Department of Transport

What are the legal duties of a holiday operator?

Millions of holiday makers every year arrange their holidays through package holiday companies. There are many trusted holiday operators who provide excellent holidays across the world, including Thomas Cook and First Choice, Virgin Holidays and Cosmos, to name just a few. The majority of holiday makers have a successful and safe holiday, but unfortunately accidents can happen and people can unexpectedly fall ill.

Sometimes, these things ‘just happen’ or the injured person was clumsy; but more often than not, injury is caused because someone else has failed in their duty of care. Where a holiday maker has been hurt and it was because of a failing on the part of the holiday operator, they should have the legal right to claim compensation.

The laws covering package deals are set out in the 2018 Package Travel Regulations (as amended) and set out the standards expected of operators when arranging and providing the holiday. For example, they must ensure that:

  • Holiday accommodation meets an acceptable standard
  • Transport provided to holiday makers is safe and regularly maintained
  • Organised tours and site seeing excursions are properly and safely organised
  • Food and drink provided is to an acceptable standard

Failures by tour operators/package providers to make suitable and effective checks under the regulations could lead directly to injury claims by holiday makers who can expect to be awarded compensation.


I arranged my travel independently and had an accident – can I make a claim?

If you arranged your own travel, accommodation and itinerary and have suffered an injury or illness abroad, you should still be able to pursue a claim if someone else was responsible. However, when making a travel accident claim it could be more challenging for your holiday accident solicitors to prove your case when no third party made the arrangements, so it’s really important to gather as much information as possible early on and get free legal advice without delay.

Your solicitor may, for example, have to deal with your claim under the laws of the country where the accident or incident happened. In practice, the general rule in most travel accident claims where the accident happened abroad, and the travel/holiday was independently arranged, is that the law of the other country will apply.

While more complex cases inevitably cost more than others, thankfully your solicitor will take your claim on a no win no fee basis if your claim is strong enough, removing any financial risk to you.

Can I claim for holiday sickness and illness?

We’ve all heard of cases where several holiday makers on a cruise ships or staying in a hotel resort have come down with food poisoning or water-borne illnesses. In June 2022 it was reported that 36 holiday makers were claiming compensation after suffering serious gastric symptoms from salmonella, e.coli and shigella while staying at a five star resort in Egypt.

These types of sickness can ruin a holiday and it’s understandable that the individuals affected feel they deserve to be compensated. The most common forms of holiday illnesses are:

  • Salmonella, e-coli, gastroenteritis and cryptosporidium
  • Norovirus
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Legionnaires Disease
  • Toxicosis

Fortunately, it is relatively straightforward to claim compensation for holiday sickness and other gastric illnesses under the 2018 Package Travel Regulations. In the case of food poisoning, so long as you can prove you were ill and that this resulted from unsatisfactory food or drink, provided under your holiday contract, your claim will be made out.

The regulations also provide for a pre-action protocol for such claims (up to a value of £25,000). The protocol facilitates a smoother and more efficient claims process for injured individuals, as well as cutting the incidence of bogus or exaggerated compensation claims being brought by chancers.


Tour operator Thomas Cook has paid £5,000 in compensation to a holiday maker from Scotland who fell ill with dysentery while on holiday in Jamaica. There were serious hygiene failings, including wild birds contaminating the buffet restaurant.

SOURCE OnHolidayClaims

Can I claim after a road accident abroad?

Travelling by road in another country is almost unavoidable, whether that’s driving a car, airport transfer buses, coaches and even sightseeing in Land Rovers and minibuses and similar vehicles. Unfortunately for Britons, the risk of being involved in road accidents abroad increases because – unlike in the UK – motorists in most other countries drive on the other side of the road.

If you’ve had the misfortune of being injured in a road accident abroad while you or a relative were driving, it’s important (if you didn’t do so at the start of your holiday) to check your insurance cover to make sure you have been adequately insured.

You may not even have been on holiday at the time of the accident- you may have been travelling abroad on a business trip.

Whatever the circumstances of the accident, you should also take specialist advice about making an injury claim – your solicitor will need to determine if your claim has to be brought under the laws of the country where your accident occurred.  If the accident was caused by an uninsured driver or a driver who cannot be traced and identified, you would have to claim compensation against the foreign insurance company or – if there is one – under the country’s scheme equivalent to the UK’s Motor Insurance Bureau. (Unfortunately, the MIB does not compensate UK drivers who are injured abroad.)


More than 3 in 4 motorists in Great Britain are nervous about the prospect of driving abroad.



Tourists abroad are three times more likely to be involved in an accident on holiday than local people.


The legal position if you’ve been injured in a road accident abroad or elsewhere in public (not under the control of a tour operator), might not be so simple, so do discuss it with your solicitor.


A Briton who suffered multiple injuries in 2018 following a motorcycle crash in Ibiza, Spain has won £58,000. A car emerged from a side street hitting the motorcyclist and knocking him unconscious.

SOURCE Manchester Evening News

Is possible to claim for negligent medical or cosmetic treatment abroad?

You may be able to claim compensation for medical negligence if your treatment for an injury or illness while abroad on holiday was substandard. For instance, if you’ve been injured in a road traffic accident and an internal injury was negligently undiagnosed, causing long-term harm (in addition to your primary injuries), you may have a potential claim for medical negligence.

You might also be able to make a claim if you’ve travelled abroad for cosmetic surgery, such as rhinoplasty or a face lift, as part of your holiday – but your treatment has been botched. In recent years there has been a boom in so-called cosmetic tourism – where it’s increasingly cheaper and quicker to travel abroad for private cosmetic treatment, dental work etc. The reality is, when choosing to travel abroad to benefit from cheaper surgery, there is potentially the higher risk of the procedures going very wrong and causing pain and suffering, and sometimes disfigurement.

While it’s a resounding success for many people, things can go wrong – especially if the individual has not done enough research and checks before arranging the treatment. The reality is, there are countries that lack the robust regulation of medical treatment and procedures that the UK enjoys, and you could be left with little come back in the event of poor treatment.

If you’re in the difficult position of having suffered unnecessarily as a result of cosmetic or dental surgery carried out abroad while on holiday, you may be able to claim compensation for medical negligence. It is vital to seek early advice to find out if you are able to sue.

Telephone for free advice on 0800 234 6438 or simply complete the online contact form and request a call back to discuss how to make a holiday accident claim for medical negligence.

How do I make a holiday accident claim?

The most important step you can take to begin your holiday compensation claim is phone for free legal advice on 0800 234 6438 from a specialist holiday claims solicitor who will walk you through the circumstances of your injury and let you know whether they think you can make a no win no fee claim.

If they believe you have a strong enough case, they’ll then find out who you’ll pursue your travel accident claim against and make contact with the person or organisation who are to be held responsible.  Throughout the accident claims process, your solicitor will be able to do most of the work for you; support you throughout the process; and answer any questions you have along the way.

Telephone for free advice on 0800 234 6438 or simply complete the online contact form and request a call back to discuss how to make a holiday accident claim.

What information do I need to gather?

Given that holiday accident claims can be more challenging, it is more important than ever to collect as much information and paperwork as you can to pass to your solicitor. The more evidence they have, the stronger your case will be. Your solicitor will discuss with you what information they need, but it can be helpful to know that this will include:

  • Medical notes and record – If you’ve not already seen a doctor, it is vital you seek medical treatment as soon as possible because your solicitor will need medical evidence to support your claim.
  • Request copies of medical notes held by any clinic or hospital where you were treated
  • Witness contact details of anyone who saw the accident
  • Photographs, CCTV, dashcam or any mobile phone footage of the scene of the incident
  • Details of any formal accident report made to the travel company, hotel, etc
  • A written account of what happened and, if possible, a diary of your injuries and recovery

Will I need an expert medical report?

Yes, fairly early in the process you will need to have a medical examination and assessment with an expert doctor who will write a report of your injuries and your prognosis. This will be done in addition to obtaining copies of your medical records.

This might sound daunting, but you need not worry – your solicitor will arrange this on your behalf and you won’t need to pay for it up front because it will be covered by your no win no fee agreement. The report will also be important evidence in support your claim.

What compensation can I claim?

Your personal injury compensation would normally comprise ‘general’ damages – an amount to compensate you for your actual injuries and the impact on you. The amount of compensation you receive will reflect the nature and extent of your injury and the impact on your life. Your solicitor will find out as much as possible about what happened to you, so they can work hard to ensure you receive maximum compensation.

You can also claim for any financial losses, which are known as ‘special damages’.

You might also be able to claim for loss of enjoyment and for distress, even if it falls short of actual psychiatric or psychological harm. For example, an important appeal court ruling clarified that compensation could be paid out to a retired couple for distress and disappointment after they had fallen ill on a cruise ship; and also had to tolerate a noisy cabin.

If you believe you deserve to be compensated for loss of enjoyment of your holiday, make sure you explain the full situation to your solicitor and they will be able to talk this through with you.

How much compensation will I receive for my injuries?         

The amount of compensation for your injuries will depend on your injury or illness, your recovery and the effect it has had on your life. Each case is different and it’s difficult early on to estimate how much you might receive.  However, these are examples showing a guideline range of how much compensation may be paid out:

  • Severe neck injuries leading to permanent damage – up to around £140,000
  • Moderate back injuries – £10,450 to £23,210
  • Minor injury of the elbow with full recovery within 18 months – up to £3,100
  • Serious food poisoning with lengthy recovering time – £36,058 to £49,269

Do bear in mind these figures illustrate a broad compensation estimate only. You can also try the online calculator to gain a rough figure for your injuries.

What can I claim for financial losses?

You can also claim for special damages if you’ve suffered any financial losses caused directly by the accident. For example, when you returned to the UK you may have had to have time off work while you recovered; and you may have had to spend your holiday cash on prescriptions, medical costs, and public transport to hospital after the accident. You may also have had to pay out for costs of medical care and therapies to help in your rehabilitation.

Your solicitor will need pay slips, invoices and medical bills, receipts and other information to support substantiate your claim for your financial losses.

I was assaulted while abroad – can I claim compensation?

Anyone injured in a criminal attack at home or abroad is entitled to seek compensation for their injuries. However, if you suffered injuries in a criminal assault while on holiday abroad, Brexit has made it more challenging because of a change in the laws that apply.

Importantly, unlike criminal injuries in the UK you can’t claim compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)* if the assault happened in another country.  The right to claim depends on whether you were injured in an EU country or a non-EU country.

Accidents in EU countries

The current position is that you can only claim under the criminal injury compensation rules of the country where the assault took place, as a foreign person, if they say you can. There are a number of EU countries that do run a compensation scheme; currently these include Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

Accidents in non-EU countries

The first thing to find out is whether the country where the attack happened has its own compensation scheme. You or your solicitor will need to contact the British embassy, consulate or high commission of the relevant country.

How long do I have to make a claim?

The relevant time limits for claiming compensation if you’re injured abroad depends on the laws of the country under which your claim is being brought.

If your claim is being dealt with under the law of England and Wales, you have three years from the time of your accident or illness to start legal personal injury proceedings. If the claim involves a child, the three-year time limit starts to run when they reach 18 years of age. Outside of this ‘limitation period’ the claim may well be ‘time barred’, so it’s important to get started as quickly as possible while events are fresher in your memory.

Where English law is not applicable and the law of the country where the accident happened applies to your claim, the time limits may be shorter. The rule is that if the limitation period for holiday claims in the other country is less than three years, you must start your claim within that shorter period.

Seek legal advice as soon as you can about making a claim, to avoid any risk of being ‘out of time’. Call for free on 0800 234 6438 for no obligation advice or complete the online contact form and request a call back to discuss your claim.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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