By Nick Harris
Head of International Travel Law
When booking a package holiday, becoming ill is the last thing you plan for. If you have fallen ill on holiday, it can be baffling to figure out how it happened, who could be to blame, and what to do next. Our solicitors give you the answers to your questions.
Could I be at risk from holiday sickness?
What people often don’t realise is that food safety standards abroad are not as strict as those in the UK. This means that you run a higher risk of falling victim to food poisoning whilst travelling abroad.
There are some places you might travel that can put you at a higher risk. We at Simpson Millar LLP handle many holiday claims for holidaymakers who have fallen ill on package holidays at destinations including Greece, Egypt, Turkey and the Dominican Republic to name a few.
This week is Food Safety Awareness Week, supported by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). They are helping raise awareness of the bug Campylobacter, which is found in raw chicken. The FSA suggest that 1 in 3 of us will be at risk of food poisoning from Campylobacter in our lifetime.
Food Safety Awareness Week is launching the ‘Chicken Challenge’ which raises awareness of the need to store chicken separately from other food and to wash any utensils and to cook the chicken thoroughly.
The main thing to remember when going on a package holiday is that if you are unsure about whether the food is cooked properly, don’t risk eating it.
I’m sick on holiday – what do I do now?
It may be the last thing on your mind if you’re already dealing with illness, but it is advisable to get any evidence you can on what could have caused the illness. So, if you have seen things like raw food being handled alongside cooked food, or food that is uncovered and exposed to bugs and flies, try to get evidence of this. Making notes of what you were doing in the days before your illness struck can help you to establish what could have caused the illness, or if it could have come from something else, like dirty pool water.
You should also make sure the hotel staff and your travel operator are informed, and request that they put it in writing that they have been informed.
If you need medical attention, make sure that you take copies of the medical records home with you, as this can also help with any claim against the tour operator.
What protections are there?
If you book a package holiday, laws are in place to make sure that you’re protected as a consumer should anything go wrong. The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (package travel regulations) are there to protect you should your holiday not meet the standards promised.
Do I need legal advice to claim compensation?
You can complain independently to your tour operator, but people often have little luck with this. Many of the holidaymakers we act for explain that they contacted us after experiencing infuriating delays and excuses from the tour operator in responding to their complaint. Your tour operator may also try to settle your complaint at a margin of the true value you could claim compensation for. Getting help from a solicitor is the only way for you to make sure you get the right level of compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Not only is your holiday ruined by falling ill, many illnesses can leave you suffering with life long conditions. These are called secondary conditions, and can range from things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Reactive Arthritis. These conditions can have a devastating affect on your everyday life, and can leave you suffering emotional and financial hardship.
We at Simpson Millar LLP will be able to help you find out if you could make a successful claim against your tour operator. We have solicitors that specialise in holiday illness claims, and have the expertise to make sure you get the compensation that you are entitled to.