Illness or injury compensation claims in India
The following guide looks at what you should know about making a successful injury or illness compensation claim in India.
Holiday food poisoning and water-borne illness in India
Gastrointestinal illness is the most common infection reported by international travellers, according to the Health Protection Agency. India is particularly high risk with incident rates as high as 60 percent.
Food poisoning occurs whenever hygiene standards are low, allowing food and water sources such as drinking water, ice cubes and swimming pools to become contaminated by bacteria. Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter can be particularly serious, causing severe vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. The FCO recommends drinking only bottled water when travelling to India. It is also wise to avoid street food and consume only food that is freshly prepared and piping hot.
If you booked your holiday as a package tour, the UK tour operator is likely to be liable for any food poisoning resulting from a hotel's negligence. Be cautious if your holiday representative insists that your illness was due to spicy food or a change in climate. If food poisoning is a possibility, it is essential that you have your illness diagnosed by an independent doctor to avoid long-term medical problems.
Mountain trekking accidents in India
The Himalayan ranges are popular with British trekkers and climbers but such activities carry risks beyond those faced on a conventional holiday. Sudden weather, landslides and avalanches can trap trekkers at high altitudes and result in serious injury.
Commercial mountain rescue services operate with limited resources in the Indian Himalayas, and no services operate above 3,000 metres. This means that a rescue is not always possible. Travel insurance may not cover holidaymakers who venture into mountain terrain, which means that a compensation claim against the party responsible may be the only route for a claimant to cover the cost of their medical treatment and emergency travel home.
Road traffic accidents in India
Traffic accidents are one of the biggest causes of injury in India, and several British nationals die each year on Indian roads. Anyone travelling by car, motorbike or moped is advised to check that the vehicle is well-maintained and avoid travelling at night if possible.
If another party is responsible for the accident, it is likely that you can claim compensation. It is essential that you call the police before leaving the scene (dial 112 for the emergency services), as reporting the accident is a necessary step before a claim can succeed.
The Indian government is rolling out the number 112 as the single national emergency number for all services like police, ambulance and fire services. The number will replace the current numbers by 2017.
Until then, holidaymakers are advised to keep the old emergency numbers handy while they are travelling in India.
100 - Police control room
101 - Fire
102 - Ambulance
181 - Women safety helpline.
Medical treatment following an accident
Medical facilities are generally good in the major cities. In more remote areas, medical services may not be comparable to those in the UK. Injured holidaymakers may find that the range of medical services is more restricted than under the National Health Service.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip to India, dial 112 or 102 and ask for an ambulance. You should also contact your insurance provider if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The UK does not have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with India. This means that you cannot get urgent medical treatment free or at a reduced cost. Any charges you pay are non-refundable, so you are strongly advised to take out comprehensive health insurance before you travel.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Travellers who booked their holiday through a package tour operator are protected by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. The regulations specify that tour operators are responsible for the negligent acts of their hoteliers and other service providers, as long as the service is included in the holiday package contract. Claims may be brought through the Courts in England and Wales.
If you intend to make a claim under the Regulations, you should immediately report the injury or illness to the tour operator's representative at the hotel in India or to the tour company's head office in the UK.
If you have booked your flights and hotel separately, it may still be possible to bring a claim through the Courts of England and Wales.
If you believe you may have a claim, it is recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Non-package travel claims are generally more complex since it is often more difficult to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident. Appointing a solicitor at the earliest opportunity should give your claim a greater chance of success.
Supporting your claim
Even if you are unsure about making a claim when you return home, taking the following steps will help you to keep your options open and strengthen a potential injury claim.
- Seek appropriate medical attention
- Contact your travel insurance provider
- Report the accident or illness to the tour operator, hotel proprietor, airline and/or the police
- Take photographs of the scene
- Gather the names and addresses of any witnesses
- Make a note of the circumstances of the accident while the details are fresh in your mind
- Contact a specialist travel solicitor.
Where you have incurred expenses such as medical bills, travel expenses or additional nights in a hotel, it is essential that you keep the receipts and associated paperwork. You will need these to recover your expenses from the travel insurer or from the defendant in a personal injury claim.
In general, personal injury claims in India must be brought within three years of the date of the incident. This is the same time limit for making a claim as in the UK, although time limits can vary depending on the precise circumstances of the accident. Holidaymakers are advised to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to confirm how long they have to make a claim.
|Circumstances of injury or illness||Limitation date*|
Injury or illness sustained on holiday to India booked through a UK package tour company
|Injury or illness sustained on an independently booked holiday in India||3 years (time limits can vary - see Time Limit Calculator for more information)|
Injury or illness on a flight that was not booked as part of a package deal to or from any international airport in India, including:
*Contact a specialist solicitor for more information or calculate how long you have to make a claim here.
British High Commission New Delhi
New Delhi 110021
Phone: (011) 2687.2161
British Consulate-General Chennai
20 Anderson Road
Chennai 600 006
Phone: (044) 4219.2151
British Consulate-General Kolkata
1A Ho Chi Minh Sarani
Phone: (033) 2288.5172
British Consulate-General Mombai
C/32 G Block Bandra Kurla Complex
Bandra (East) Mumbai 400 051
Phone: (022) 6650.2222
British Consulate-General Goa
303-304, Casa Del Sol (Gr Floor)
Opposite Goa Marriott Resort, Miramar
Panaji, Goa 403 001
Phone: (022) 6650.2222
Meet the QLS team
Quittance Legal Services' nationwide network of solicitors handle all types of personal injury claims and have a wealth of expertise with fast track, complex and serious injury claims. Chosen for their success rate in winning claims, QLS's solicitors have years of dedicated experience.
About the author
Paul is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and has served as a Deputy District Judge, giving him a uniquely broad understanding of the claims process.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert