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Friday, Feb 24, 2017
4 Things You Need to Know About Personal Injury Before You Leave for Vacation
Posted by Christopher Fischer of

Anytime of the year is a good time to take an international vacation. Whether traveling to Europe, the Caribbean, or another exotic destination, travelers should be prepared for the unexpected – included becoming ill or sustaining an injury while away from home. Travel insurance is optional, but should be mandatory for all international vacationers, as it affords the protection that families need. But, there is another consideration that may not be covered by basic travel insurance: Personal injury liability.

Few vacationers ever think that they will become the victim of a personal injury while staying at a hotel or resort. There are many ways that travelers can sustain injuries that may leave them temporarily or permanently disabled. It is important for all families to understand their rights when traveling in a foreign country, and how to take legal action for personal injury, if an accident due to negligence occurs.

1. Travelers Insurance Is Mandatory

Acquiring traveler’s insurance combines trip insurance and health and emergency care coverage for vacationers. If something happens that prohibits your departure (such as a death in the family), the amount of your pre-booked vacation will be reimbursed. What is most important in a vacation insurance plan, however, is the gap insurance coverage that it provides when you are out of the country.

Medicare and Medicaid do not offer coverage outside of the United States. A traveler’s insurance policy will cover emergency care, transportation, prescription medications, hospital stays, required surgical procedures, radiography (x-rays) and tests. Without a policy that covers medical expenses, tourists involved in an accident or those who suffer an unexpected health crisis while traveling can face steep medical expenses, and sometimes even treatment delays (pending payment for services). Don’t leave home without it.

2. Safety Standards and Laws Are Not the Same in Foreign Countries

In North America, if there is a wet floor, businesses are required to put a sign to warn pedestrians about the hazard. Fear of personal liability for injuries also compels businesses to repair flooring, structures, seating, and other facilities that can injure or harm a customer or guest.

American businesses have legally established responsibilities to provide a safe environment; failing to do so can create a solid case of negligence, and depending on the injury, a large personal injury settlement. If you are traveling to an underdeveloped country, don’t count on the same courtesies provided in North America. You and you alone are responsible for keeping yourself safe.

3. Hospital Care for Serious Injuries May Not Be Available

Cliff diving in the middle of a jungle? Driving a Jeep across the desert? If you are enjoying an adventure vacation, you may be venturing far from formalized medical and healthcare providers, such as large hospitals. Independent clinics can address less urgent needs, but in most cases, international visitors are air lifted or transported to a nearby major city for critical health care. And that costs a bundle.

4. Out of Network (and Country) Healthcare Costs Are Expensive

The ACA does not afford healthcare coverage for Americans who travel internationally. It is the express responsibility of the tourist to provide private healthcare coverage, which is adequate to eliminate or minimize out-of-pocket expenses for emergency treatment.

It is also important to note that in the case of a serious medical ailment, commercial airlines will not permit passengers to fly, for fear of liability. Any medical evacuation from a vacation destination will be private in virtually all cases, and very expensive.

Getting Documentation

Make sure to get a hard copy of your emergency room admittance, test results, and the name(s) of treating physicians who attended to you. Your health and well-being come first; make sure there are no life-threatening injuries that have been unresolved before you leave the hospital or attempt to travel.

Documentation is another critical aspect to building a successful personal injury case. Unfortunately, being in unfamiliar surroundings can be very disorienting, particularly if you are visiting an underdeveloped nation. Because taking notes and paper records can be lost or damaged during travel, it is important to scan all documents, and email them to yourself, upload them to Google drive, or another cloud storage for safekeeping.

You can take pictures of original documents and notes as well, and archive any photos you have of your injury, the location of your injury, bystanders, police report, or any other documents for a digital record. Remember to include a list of witnesses, their names, countries, and email address, if your injury was observed by other tourists at the location. Unbiased witnesses can help build a successful personal injury case against a recreation and tourist operation, a resort, or – if your injury is on government property – a negligence case against governance.

Dealing with Corruption and Coercion

Suffering a painful injury where a resort, restaurant, transportation, or tour operator is responsible due to negligence and lack of safety precautions is frightening, but it can be full of red-tape, threats, and even collusion from local authorities, depending on the country and culture. Keep in mind that the best outcome for a negligent business is if the tourist simply “returns home” with little to no evidence. Once outside the legal jurisdiction of the country, filing a personal injury suit without insufficient evidence is virtually impossible. One personal injury lawyer we spoke to indicated that there are instances where intimidation can be used to figuratively “chase” the injured tourist home, before they can acquire medical treatment or documentation. This is something that all travelers should be aware of.

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