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Your guide to USA holiday compensation

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

About the USA

America is the dream destination for many holidaymakers, purely because it has something for everyone. Enjoy a hedonistic whirlwind in Las Vegas, or relax by the beach in California. Hit the designer shops on 5th Avenue in New York, or take in some of the country’s vast and varied history in Washington DC. Whether you’re visiting with friends, a partner or your entire family, you have every right to expect a once-in-a-lifetime holiday when you visit the USA.

USA holiday hotspots

New York City is on the ‘bucket list’ for millions of people. The self-described Greatest City on Earth is a haven for those who love the urban jungle. Tourists can see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty close-up, catch a show on Broadway, go shopping in Macy’s or head downtown for a much more laid-back side of Manhattan.

California is home to some of the world’s most amazing cities and holiday destinations. Los Angeles is obviously the home of the rich and famous – visitors can go hiking in the Hollywood Hills, check out the stars on the Walk of Fame, or dine out with celebrities at the next table. San Francisco is the birthplace of the start-up, and one of the friendliest places in the US – check out the Golden Gate Bridge, ride one of the famous trams and endure a spooky visit to Alcatraz.

Thousands of families every year head to Florida, the theme park capital of the world. From Disneyland to Universal Studios, there’s something here for all kids – and big kids at heart. This region offers the ultimate in family holidays, creating memorable experiences that everyone will be talking about for years to come.

Accidents and illnesses in the USA

There’s so much to see and do in the USA, it’s easy to see why so many tourists return year after year.  Unfortunately, some holidaymakers suffer accidents and illnesses while they’re away, causing them to seek expensive medical treatment or return home early. In some severe cases, their injuries or illnesses have lasting consequences that change their lives.

Here are some of the most common types of accident and illnesses suffered by tourist in the USA:

  • Food poisoning, salmonella, travel bugs

Hotel buffets, under-cooked food and contaminated food products can all cause food poisoning in the USA, and there are a range of other illnesses that can keep holidaymakers confined to their hotel rooms for large chunks of their holiday.
Swimming pools are also a hive of harmful bacteria, especially if they’re not cleaned regularly.

  • Slips and trips

Every year tourists experience slips, trips or falls on holiday. Luckily, most of them are fairly harmless, causing just minor bruising or embarrassment. Unfortunately, some trips can be much more serious, causing fractures, broken bones and severe muscle injuries that can take many months to heal.

  • Excursions, accidents in airports, transfers, coach trips

Many people visiting the USA take advantage of the plentiful coach trips and excursions on offer – but this can mean that holidaymakers can end up involved in accidents through no fault of their own.

Accidents can happen even before your holiday starts.  You may have been injured boarding or disembarking a plane, had an item fall on you from an overhead locker, or been injured retrieving your luggage from the carousel or during your transfer to your hotel.  As these are all covered by your package holiday, you could have a valid compensation claim.

  • Excursions, accidents in airports, transfers, coach trips

Many tourists visiting Portugal like to go on coach trips and other excursions to see some of the country’s other attractions. Unfortunately, some of these trips can be run by travel operators with a limited grasp of health and safety regulations. If you experience an accident or fall ill as a result, you could pursue a claim.

Accidents can happen even before your holiday starts.  You may have been injured boarding or disembarking a plane, had an item fall on you from an overhead locker, or been injured retrieving your luggage from the carousel or during your transfer to your hotel.  As these are all covered by your package holiday, you could have a valid compensation claim.

What you can claim for

Compensation for accidents and illnesses abroad can only be claimed for package holidays, most of which are covered by the Package Travel Regulations 1992. Under Regulation 2(1), hotel owners and tour operators have a ‘duty of care’ towards the health and safety of you, your family and anyone else in your party.

This Regulation states that a package must include the pre-arranged combination of at least two of the following components:

  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Other tourist services that are additional to transport or accommodation, and which account for a significant proportion of the package.  This can include pre-booked excursions.

If you are harmed while using any facilities promoted or controlled by your tour operator as part of your package, you could have grounds to make a claim for compensation.

Your package holiday organiser can be held responsible if you suffered an injury caused by an accident or illness that happened anywhere on hotel property. They can also be held responsible if an accident takes place or your illness is caused either:

  • On a pre-booked excursion bought in the UK, or
  • During a holiday service provided as part of your package bought in the UK.

However, your package holiday organiser is unlikely to be held responsible if:

  • Your accident or illness happened during an excursion booked at the hotel or resort, which was not included in your pre-booked package bought in the UK.
  • An accident happened away from your hotel – unless it was during an excursion you bought in the UK as part of your package.
  • You tripped on a badly maintained pavement in the local town centre.
  • The accident was your fault, i.e. you broke the safety rules
  • Your illness was caused by eating at a local restaurant that was not included as part of your package holiday.

Time limit

The Package Travel Regulations 1992 allow you 3 years to make a claim from the date when the illness or accident occurred.  However if your illness or accident happened on a cruise, this would be governed by the Athens Convention which are a different set of regulations that  only allow 2 years in which to make a claim.

Claiming your compensation

If you’ve had a holiday ruined by an accident that wasn’t your fault, or an illness you’ve picked up as a result of someone else’s negligence, Your Legal Friend could help. We’ll support you in making a compensation claim for the pain and stress caused to you while you were abroad, as well as covering additional travel costs and any future medical treatments that might be required throughout your recovery.

First of all, we need to understand what happened to you and why you believe the accident or illness was not your fault. We’ll take statements from you and any witnesses, obtain incident reports, and search for medical reports to get a better idea of what happened, how you were affected, what treatment you were given, and whether you are still suffering from your injury or illness.

Then we’ll launch a thorough investigation, with the aim of identifying who was at fault for your injury or illness. Once we’ve discovered whose negligence caused this, can then assess how likely your claim is to succeed and how much compensation we can secure for you.

If you then agree to go ahead, we’ll send your claim to whoever is responsible for your injuries or illness. They can either accept the claim and seek to negotiate a settlement with you – this is often the preferred choice of many larger firms looking to protect their reputation – or they can reject the claim in which case we take the case to Court. In this instance, we’ll manage the process of preparing your claim to go to Court and support you every step of the way.

Receiving compensation

If your claim is successful, you’ll be awarded compensation. How much you’ll be awarded depends on various criteria:

  • The severity of the injury or illness. A broken bone or amputation is likely to be classed as far more serious than a muscle strain or stomach bug.
  • How your life has been affected. Some unfortunate holidaymakers experience life-changing injuries or illnesses while abroad – the compensation awarded will reflect this.
  • Whether you’ve been left out of pocket. Medical bills and additional travel expenses can wreak havoc on a family’s finances. This part of the compensation sees that you’re adequately compensated for your losses.
  • Whether you’ll need extra support in the future. If your injury or illness will lead to loss of income, or if you’ll need ongoing treatment and care to deal with the injury, this will be taken into account.

Here’s how Your Legal Friend can help you:

  • No win, no fee - guaranteed
  • 95% success rate in personal injury claims
  • Over £200,000,000 successfully won in the last ten years alone
  • Help and support you with your claim against the travel company or carrier
  • 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our expert personal injury solicitors about making a claim, call us now on 0808 274 6166 (call free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.