Specialist travel lawyer Clare Campbell from Leigh Day Solicitors has voiced concerns over the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) campaign which advises holidaymakers who experience food poisoning as a result of eating at their hotels to ‘contact your hotel or tour operator.’
Said Clare, “Whilst I applaud any move by ABTA to stop fraudulent claims, the fact of the matter is that people can and do suffer sickness on holiday caused by poor hygiene standards in their hotels.
"These people deserve proper compensation for their illness and to say that they should simply report it to the hotel and or the tour operator is not good enough. Hotels and tour operators often prevaricate and try to fob-off complainants because it is in their interests to do so.”
The ABTA campaign warns holidaymakers of the consequences of submitting a fake claim.
Said Clare, “I absolutely agree that fake claims are reprehensible and I am strongly opposed to claims companies that tout for business in resorts to encourage people to claim fraudulently, but I do think it is dangerous to try and frighten people from pursuing a genuine claim.”
Continued Clare who recently appeared on BBC’s Breakfast Programme to highlight her concerns, “Sickness on holiday can not only be an inconvenience for a few days, in many instances it can be debilitating for weeks and months afterwards.
"The very young and the elderly are particularly susceptive and deserve the full protection of the legal system that is already in-place to protect them. To suggest any lessening of the law to restrict sickness claims or liken them to whiplash injuries is a mistake. Access to justice is a fundamental principle we should strive to defend at all costs.”
Clare sets out here her top ten tips for holidaymakers who have the misfortune to suffer illness or injury on holiday:
- Report your complaint to the hotel and, if available, your travel representative. Take down the name of all people you speak to and ask for a copy of any completed accident or illness complaint form.
- Get evidence of the issue at hand if possible. Photographs and videos are useful to refer back to, and can help demonstrate the complaint to a third party if necessary.
- Take down the name and contact details, telephone, postal and email, of any other holidaymakers who are experiencing the same issues as you, or can act as witnesses for your complaint.
- Get details of any member of British Consulate with whom you have had contact.
- Get details of local police involved including a reference number if applicable.
- Seek medical assistance following any injury or illness and ask for a copy of your medical records from any hospital or surgery that you visit for treatment.
- Keep receipts of any expenses incurred as a result of accident or illness, including travel expenses to and from hospital and subsistence costs whilst at hospital.
- Retain a record of all expenditure incurred either by or on behalf of the injured person as well as associated expenses incurred by those accompanying the injured person.
- If you send original documents to the tour operator, keep a copy for your own records and don’t feel pressured in to signing anything that you don’t understand.
- Don’t accept any offers of compensation whilst at the resort without first obtaining independent legal advice. Consult a reputable independent specialised solicitor, because you might be entitled to compensation as a result of your holiday experience.