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A guide to making a No Win No Fee gap year injury claim

Students planning gap year travel aim to experience new cultures, learn new languages and meet new people, but often do not plan or prepare for the risks involved.

Some of these risks, such as slips, trips and road traffic accidents are equally common in the UK, but treatment for any injuries sustained while travelling may be difficult to arrange and costly, even with travel insurance in place.

If you have been injured on a gap year, or are currently travelling abroad and have been recently injured or become ill, try to contact a solicitor as soon as possible.

A solicitor will be able to advise further regarding your options, including making a injury claim and recovering treatment costs.

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.

Do I have a claim for a gap year injury?

If you have suffered a gap year injury in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

Unexpected gap year hazards

Gap year travellers may also have to contend with other, unexpected hazards that cause both short and long-term injury and illness. Water-borne infection, such as Legionnaires Disease, and food poisoning can develop into serious, permanent health conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, if not appropriately treated in a timely manner.

For example:

  • Developing countries with inconsistent hygiene standards and medical care increase the risk of illness and can increase the severity and duration of the illness
  • Exposure to insects which bite or sting and may result in allergic reactions or the wounds can become infected.
  • Natural disasters and conflict can make it difficult to travel to better equipped medical facilities

While many of the factors that can give rise to injury or illness on a gap year are unlikely to result in a compensation claim for an accident abroad, these factors can increase the risk of long-term harm if a more mundane injury does occur, such as a leg fracture.

Covering the cost of medical care

With a study revealing that the costs of holiday injuries may range from £47 for insect bites to £7,500 for someone sustaining multiple injuries, it is clear that the cost of overseas medical care can be very expensive.

Within Europe a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will give access to state funded healthcare in a European Economic Area (EEA) country. These are the 27 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The card is free to most UK residents

Holders of the EHIC pay the same cost for their treatment as a local - so if it is free for the country's residents, there is nothing to pay. It usually only covers treatment in state-run hospitals; in some countries their standards may be poor.

Repatriation costs

As the card does not include the cost of a flight home, anyone falling ill or having an accident while travelling may have to pay any repatriation costs.

Additional travel insurance is often recommend to ensure appropriate cover in the event of being injured in any accident or natural disaster. The insurance can be tailored according to the specific type of holiday being taken. This may mean adding clauses for extreme activities - to cover a claim for bungee jump whiplash or white-water rafting - and for working abroad. If required it may also be extended to cover pre-existing conditions.

In case of emergency

Because gap year travellers generally arrange travel and accommodation as separate bookings, they are not covered by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, making claims for injuries and illness a more complicated process as they may have to pursue several different suppliers.

Anyone needing medical treatment while they are away should try to contact their insurer immediately to get agreement to the treatment before it is carried out. Of course this may not be possible in an emergency.

It may be necessary to pay for treatment in advance and claim the money back on returning home, therefore it is important to ensure there are receipts for any treatment, care or medication.

Compensation may be claimed for travel-related injuries, even if the Claimant may have been partly to blame for the accident. However treatment for an existing health problem may not be covered if it was not declared to the insurer when the policy was purchased.

Working abroad

Many people take the opportunity to work abroad, either on their gap year or during the summer break. Manual fieldwork and fruit picking are popular choices and many are simply employed directly by the farmer or vineyard owner.

Standard travel insurance rarely covers semi-official, ad hoc work or formal employment while travelling, and a personal injury claim is often the only recourse following an accident at work during a gap year.

In work-related situations, anyone sustaining an injury may find determining liability difficult and seeking a specialist solicitor's advice at an early stage is recommended.

If the work was arranged through an agency or with a well-established employer procedures should be in place to protect workers and make establishing liability more straightforward. As in the UK, it is always useful to have photographic evidence of the site and details of any witnesses to a workplace accident.

Holiday illness case study

£29,378 compensation for cryptosporidium infection View case study