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Steps to take if you are injured abroad

Suffering an injury while travelling can be highly stressful. You may be far from your normal support networks and may not feel comfortable seeking medical treatment in an unfamiliar country.

In addition to disrupting your travel plans and causing inconvenience, sustaining an injury abroad can result in significant financial loss due to the costs of medical treatment, and there may be ongoing impacts on your earning capacity due to your injuries.

If the injuries were caused by the actions (or inactions) of a third party, seeking medical treatment can assist your chances of gaining compensation.

If you sustain injury overseas, we recommend taking the following steps:

1. Seek immediate treatment

Your first step should be seeking appropriate medical attention as soon as possible after sustaining an injury, whether you are affected by a life-threatening condition or your injuries are less severe.

Some people are reluctant to obtain medical treatment whilst overseas and sometimes do not feel comfortable seeking help, but this can have negative impacts on your health. It can also complicate your legal case if you later intend to bring a personal injury claim.

If you have travel insurance, you should contact your insurer quickly to advise them of your injuries and seek their direction on where you should go to get appropriate care. This may also give you comfort that your travel insurance company will be covering your medical costs, depending on your coverage and policy.

2. Document your injuries

It is important to document, as much as possible, where and how you were injured and any other information relating to the cause of the accident. If you can, organise for photographs to be taken of the location where you were injured and obtain the names, addresses and contact numbers of witnesses to the incident. If you do have a legal case it is important that you have sufficient evidence to prove your claim. In the event that liability is disputed, having photographs of where the incident occurred and/or witness statements supporting your version of events could be the deciding factor in your case.

It is important to obtain this information at the earliest possible opportunity so that your legal team can obtain statements and other evidence to support your claim.

3. Request copies of any medical records or hospital records whilst abroad

If you do have a legal claim in relation to your injuries, in addition to evidence about the nature of the incident, your lawyers may need copies of your medical and hospital records relating to the treatment you received whilst abroad.

Obtaining documents from overseas can be a long and drawn-out process. Asking for a copy of your file to be printed while you are there can save months of hassle. We recommend obtaining copies of any medical records relating to your treatment, such as general practitioner records or hospital records, before leaving the country or even before checking out of the hospital.

4. Keep all of your receipts for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of your injury

As a part of your claim, you should be able to recover compensation under various categories of damages, including special damages which includes compensation for past out-of-pocket expenses relating to your injury.

This may include medical treatment, medical investigations/tests, medication, medical related travel, extra accommodation due to your injuries, rescheduled flights and the hire of medical equipment.

We highly recommned keeping all relevant receipts and paperwork so that copies can be provided with your claim.

5. Report the accident to the relevant authorities/parties

It is important that you notify the relevant authorities of the incident, whether it be contacting the local police to report the incident or notifying your resort that you sustained injury on their premises, ensuring that the incident is properly reported at the time that it occurred will assist you in the future. We also recommend obtaining copies of any incident reports that are completed.

6. Visit your own doctor when you get home

As soon as you return home, we recommend that you see your own doctor and advise them of the incident and the injuries that you have sustained. This will give your doctors the chance to check on your progress and continue your treatment should it be required.

Contact Shine Lawyers

If you have been injured while travelling overseas you may have a claim for compensation. Shine Lawyers' travel law experts can assist you. The travel law team will be able to advise you on your rights regarding your injuries and help you to navigate unfamiliar legal systems.

Also, most countries have different limitation dates stipulating when you must commence your claim in the Courts. If you miss your limitation date you may be barred from pursuing your claim at a later time, so it is important that you get the right advice without delay.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: January 7, 2020.

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