Injured in Bulgaria? How to Claim Compensation Successfully
Most holidaymakers travelling to Bulgaria have trouble free visits, but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has warned of regular reports of robberies and threatening behaviour by taxi drivers, specifically in the Sunny Beach region.
The FCO warns that tourists should always be aware of pickpockets in city centres and tourist resorts, and especially in crowded areas like buses, trains and busy streets.
Holidaymakers do also occasionally sustain injuries or illness while visiting Bulgaria. If the injury or illness is caused by someone else's negligence, the holidaymaker may be able to bring a claim for holiday injury compensation.
Our network of solicitors do not currently have the capacity to take on holiday-related injury and sickness claims outside the UK. It is recommended that you contact a personal injury specialist solicitor to discuss your options as soon as possible, as some jurisdictions have limitation dates of less than the three year limit that is standard in the UK.
Who can make a claim?
One of the key factors that decides if, and how, you can claim is the issue of whether the accident or illness occurred on a package holiday.
Bulgaria has long been a popular destination for holidaymakers looking for good value package holiday options. All-inclusive hotels packages in the Black Sea coast resorts of Albena, Elenite, Golden Sands, Nessabar and Sunny Beach are increasing in popularity.
Bulgaria is also a popular choice for packaged winter holidays in the ski resorts of Aleko, Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo. Also increasing in popularity are city breaks to the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, coupled with hiking in the nearby Vitosha mountain nature reserve.
If you are unsure as to whether your holiday qualifies as a package holiday, your solicitor will confirm this with you.
What are the time limits for claiming compensation in Bulgaria?
On a flight to or from Bulgaria, in a hotel, or during an pre-booked excursion or activity, and where the holiday was booked through a UK-based package tour operator, you have 3 years from the date of the injury to make a claim.
Injury or illness in Bulgaria during a trip that was booked privately (not booked through a UK tour operator) time limits vary. For more information, please use the Time Limit Calculator.
You have 2 years to claim for injury or illness during a privately-booked flight (not booked through a UK tour operator) to or from Bulgaria's airports including Sofia, Burgas, Plovdiv and Varna).
Who to contact if you have an injury or illness while in Bulgaria
If your injury or illness is life threatening then you should call 112. This emergency number is free of charge
Other useful phone numbers are:
- 150 - ambulance
- 160 - fire/rescue
- 166 - police
- 178 - pharmacy on duty
What to do if you are involved in a traffic accident in Bulgaria
Incidences of road traffic accidents are high in Bulgaria, with almost double the fatality rate of any other EU country.
A recent report reveals that in 2015 there were 7,225 serious car accidents accounting for 708 deaths and 8,971 serious injuries. The highest number of accidents occur between July and September when people are travelling for summer.
The procedure in the event of a road traffic accident in Bulgaria depends on the severity of the accident, but in all cases of accident:
- Stop driving immediately, do not leave the scene
- Alert any oncoming traffic
- Preserve all evidence
- Take the names, contact details, licence plate numbers of witnesses
- Inform the Traffic Police by calling 112
If there are more than 2 vehicles involved everyone must remain at the scene, even if the accident is minor.
If anyone is injured they should be helped, but not moved unless they are in danger of further injury. If the injured person needs immediate transport to a hospital, the person accompanying them must return the scene of the accident as soon as possible.
All vehicles in Bulgaria are required to have third party liability insurance and proof of that insurance must be carried at all times -- all vehicles must have a policy, a card and an insurance sticker on the widescreen as proof of validity.
In case of a minor traffic accident an Accident Report Form is completed by the party responsible and a copy given to the 2nd driver. The form requires information as follows:
- Name and identity card details of the other driver
- Full insurance details of the other driver including insurance number and expiry date
- Place of the accident, names and contact details of possible witnesses
- An explanation of the accident with details of the damage caused
- Both parties must agree and sign the Report Form so that it is valid for claims
If the accident is serious the Traffic Police will complete the form and give a copy to all parties involved so they may forward to the relevant insurers. Many insurers insist on the form being received within 7 days of the incident.
It is important to understand and agree with any paperwork before signing.
Medical treatment following an accident
British visitors to Bulgaria are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) enabling them to receive state provided healthcare if it is a medical necessity. It is important to ensure that any healthcare provider you are referred to has a contract with the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) as the EHIC does not cover private treatment.
It is vital to also have travel insurance as the EHIC does not cover travel costs for repatriation or stolen property, nor making a personal injury claim.
If you wish to find out more about NHIF you can check its website here http://www.en.nhif.bg/
Most doctors in Bulgaria (around 90%) are registered with the NHIF, although there is a small charge (non-refundable) for making an appointment. If you need medication the doctor will issue either a receipt form (for non-chronic illness) or a prescription (for chronic diseases).
Receipt forms mean the medication is either free or at a reduced cost at NHIF registered pharmacies. Prescriptions must be paid for at full cost and there is no refund.
If you need a dentist, you should consult one with an NHIF contract although there may still be a charge for patient contribution. Private dentists charge the full cost of treatment (non refundable)
Inpatient treatment is provided by public and private hospitals in Bulgaria, but only those with a contract with the NHIF will cover the cost of treatment. As part of the care patients are entitled to a maximum of 2 outpatient examinations after discharge from hospital.
There is no cost for using an ambulance in an emergency.
Bulgaria package holiday injury claims
If you have been injured or sustained illness whilst on a package tour holiday to Bulgaria the specific regulations in the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 allow you can bring a claim against the UK based tour company through the Courts in England or Wales.
Popular summer holiday resorts include those in the Bourgas region, such as Obzor, Sunny Beach, St Vlas and Sinemoret; and those in the Varna region, including Golden Sands, St. Konstantin and Albena; whilst the most sought after skiing is in the mountain resorts of Borovets, Banko, Chepelare, Pamporovo, Samokov and Dobrinishte.
Companies operating package tour and skiing holidays in Bulgaria include:
- Thomas Cook
- First Choice
- Co-op Travel
- Balkan Holidays
(This information is provided for information purposes only.)
Common injuries and illnesses in Bulgaria
In the past, Bulgaria has had relatively low incidences of food poisoning in comparison to other holiday destinations; however an increase in the number of people sharing eating facilities in all-inclusive hotels may lead in future to more outbreaks of salmonella and campylobacter poisoning through cross contamination, particularly where self-service buffets are provided.
Skiing Accidents in Bulgaria
Skiing can be a dangerous sport in any country and for people with any level of experience or expertise.
Skiing accident claims have been made against companies operating skiing holidays in Bulgaria where faulty ski equipment has led to skiers having accidents and sustaining injuries. Other hazards include ski lifts and collisions with other skiers or snowboard users.
It is also important to ensure you have proper instruction and supervision, and only ski within your capabilities. Be aware of piste clearing equipment and the risk of avalanches.
Do I need a Bulgarian lawyer to make a personal injury claim?
If you have been injured during a non-package holiday, it may still be possible for a lawyer to pursue your claim through the Bulgarian Courts.
If you believe you may have a claim, it is recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible, as non-package travel claims may be more complex and limitation dates in Bulgaria differ from those in the UK.
What to do next
Whether you have been injured in a Black Sea Resort of Albena, Elenite, Golden Sands, St. Konstantin, Sunny Beach or Obzor, on a city break in Sofia or skiing in Borovets, Bansko or Aleko you may be entitled to claim compensation.
For more information, or to discuss your options with a specialist travel solicitor, contact Quittance on 0800 612 7456 or (+44) 800 612 7456 from outside the UK.
Alternatively, you can start your claim online here, or arrange a callback.
Useful contact details
British Embassy Sofia
9, Moskovska St
Telephone (+359) 2 933 9222
Opening hours Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Consular Section: The Sofia Consular Section office works by appointment only and is therefore not open to the public at all times.