You have finally booked yourself off for some rest and relaxation. The idea that you might become injured while you are on vacation is the furthest thing from your mind; but it can result in a lot more than inconvenience. It is a possibility you may not have thought of, but one that every individual should be aware of before they head out on a vacation.
In the event that you are out on a holiday and become injured, do you know the steps you and your family should take to document and report your accident? If the injury you sustain on vacation could be something that impacts your ability to work, exercise or conduct your normal activities of daily living, what you do within the first twenty-four hours of your accident matters.
How Often Are Americans Injured on Foreign Vacations?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23% of deaths of American travelers happen while they are in a foreign country. The CDC reported that from the years 2009 to 2011, approximately 2,773 Americans died from non-natural causes including collisions, injuries, and violence.
Complications for Uninsured Travelers
The last thing people think about is health or injury insurance, when they are planning their vacation. Unfortunately, many Americans do not anticipate that they will be injured, or they feel that the regional health and medical care will be sufficient to address their needs, in the event of an accident. This misconception places travelers at both great personal and financial risk.
Health insurance for a vacation can cost as little as $50. Provided in a supplemental travel insurance plan, is emergency care and some plans even offer emergency travel from the vacation destination back to the United States, for quality care. Travelers without insurance (or those who have personal insurance that does not cover them while out of the country) can be subjected to cash-for-service payment by foreign healthcare providers, and possible treatment delays (even during an emergency) until payment is received.
Substandard medical care in many countries (which are not comparable to American providers), delays in testing and treatment, or price gouging or cash-only payment requirements can place the injured person at a great risk of health complications, or even fatality. Hospitals and medical staff in foreign countries where insurance coverage is not available can also withhold dispensation of medications, including insulin or pain relief prescriptions.
What Happens When You Are Injured On a Resort?
The first twenty-four hours after your injury is critical for documentation. If you feel that the hotel, tour company, driver or staff have been negligent, or that their actions contributed in a direct way to your sustained injuries, you may have sufficient grounds for a personal injury case; assuming that you get all the facts and details before you leave.
- Seek Immediate Medical Evaluation
It is important to see a doctor immediately after a personal injury. This is because waiting for long will make it difficult for you to prove the injuries sustained. Also, by avoiding medical evaluation on an immediate basis, you may risk your health and well-being.
- Document with Photography
You’ve heard the saying that a “picture is worth a thousand words.” This statement is never more true than when it comes to personal injury and litigation. Without photographic documentation, it is your word against the resort, and photographs are admissible, reliable evidence that can help you build a successful personal injury case.
Take pictures of the injury or sites of injury. Take multiple pictures of the location where the injury occurred, at the time of the accident. Waiting to document the scene of your injury can give unscrupulous individuals time to address the cause of your injury, including poorly stored equipment, tripping obstacles or other signs of negligence.
- File a Police Report
No matter what country you are visiting, when you have an accident that involves damage or a personal injury, you must report it to the authorities. This protects travelers in two ways; first it creates a legally binding statement that is admissible in court. Second, it verifies the nature of your injury at the time of loss. A policeman will document the nature of the injury as well as contributing factors, which again, will help substantiate personal injury claims in court.
- Get Statements and Witness Contact Information
Since vacation resorts and destinations are full of travelers from around the world, tracking them down a month or two after your accident (should you wish to pursue legal action) can be difficult if not impossible. The hotel or resorts adhere to privacy laws and will not release guest contact information, unless court ordered to do so.
Before you leave the resort, ask for names, telephone numbers, mailing addresses and email addresses for individuals who witnessed the accident or injury. Another quick way to do it with a mobile device is to connect with them on LinkedIn, after you gather their contact information. That way, if telephone numbers change, you will be able to contact them through email. New Orleans personal injury lawyers (who had experience with vacationers during Katrina), recommend that all travelers record their observation of the accident and circumstances on your phone, but back up your statements to a secure file destination, such as DropBox or Google Documents before traveling home (just in case).
A personal injury can impact your family for a month, year or decades, depending on the severity. Insure that you and everyone you know are prepared to take the essential steps immediately following an injury, and remember to safely store your legal documentation in the cloud, on the ride home.
Author Bio: Aaron Z. Ahlquist is a Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney with Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC, a law firm based out of New Orleans, LA. He has served his clients in the areas of union and employee-side labor, employment law, complex and commercial litigation, class action and mass tort, etc. As an attorney with HH&K, he has been recognized as one of the Top 40 Attorneys under 40 in the State of Louisiana by The National Trial Lawyers Association.