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Paul Carvis

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What are the time limits to claim compensation in the Netherlands?

The time limit (or limitation date) for making a compensation claim following an accident or illness in the Netherlands will vary, and holidaymakers are advised to act quickly to ensure they have enough time to pursue a claim.

Circumstances of injury or illness    Limitation date*
On a flight to or from the Netherlands, in a hotel, or during an pre-booked excursion or activity, and where the holiday was booked through a UK-based package tour operator    3 years
Injury or illness in the Netherlands during a trip that was booked privately (not booked through a UK tour operator)    5 years (time limits can vary - see Time Limit Calculator for more information)
Injury or illness during a privately-booked flight (not booked through a UK tour operator) to or from:
•    Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Amsterdam
•    Eindhoven Airport, Eindhoven
•    Maastricht Aachen Airport, Maastrict
•    Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Rotterdam    2 years
*Contact a specialist solicitor for more information or calculate how long you have to make a claim here.

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.

What to do if you have been injured in an accident in the Netherlands?

Even if you are unsure about making a claim when you return home, there is much you can do (as soon as your health and circumstances allow) to keep your options open and strengthen a potential injury claim.

Read more general information about holiday accident and illness claims here.

Whether you have returned home from the Netherlands, are being treated in a Dutch hospital, or are continuing with your holiday, following these steps can give your claim a better chance of success.

•    Seek professional medical attention
•    Contact your travel insurance provider
•    Report the accident or illness
•    Gather evidence
•    Gather witness statements
•    Contact a solicitor

Who to contact in an emergency incident in the Netherlands

If you are involved in a road traffic accident you should stop immediately. If the vehicle is blocking the road, use hazard lights and place a red warning triangle 30m from the scene to warn oncoming traffic
All parties involved must exchange details:

•    Name and address of all the people involved in the accident
•    Vehicle registration numbers
•    Details of the insurance companies

If possible, take a photograph of the scene of the accident

Where the accident only involves damage to property all parties involved should complete and sign a European claim form, which should be provided by the insurer and kept in the vehicle. This may be used as evidence. If there is disagreement and the form cannot be signed by all involved, the police can be asked to intervene as leaving the scene of an accident without providing this information is considered an offence.

The names and addresses of any witnesses should also be mentioned, as well as information on the facts of the accident.

Copies of the claim form are then sent to all claimants insurers for assessment. In the Netherlands there is no time deadline for this.

It is obligatory for all cars in the Netherlands to have at least third party liability auto insurance (wettelijke aansprakelijkheid) other motor insurance: fire, theft, vandalism is optional.

If someone has been injured or killed in the accident the event of an accident in which someone is injured or killed phone 112 to speak to the Dutch emergency services and ask for police (politie) and an ambulance (ambulance)

The police will make an official report describing the details of the accident and take note of the personal details of all people involved, including registration numbers and insurance information

A copy of the accident report can be requested by writing; mention the time and place (municipality) where the accident took place and include relevant vehicle registration numbers. Write to:
Stichting Processen Verbaal (The Foundation for Police Reports) (in Dutch)
At: Postbus 7070, 2701 AB Zoetermeer
Tel: +31 (0) 79 322 98 67

If the party responsible for the damage is uninsured or unknown, the claim can be submitted to the Road Traffic Guarantee Fund (Waarborgfonds Motorverkeer).

The 5th Motor Insurance Directive is in force in the European Union regarding traffic accidents outside a person's own country: victims of traffic accidents can now claim compensation in a simple manner from the insurer of the party at fault. These claims are submitted to the representative of the foreign insurer in the victim's country.

Medical treatment following an accident

Visitors to the Netherlands should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn't a substitute for medical and travel insurance and will not cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment. Therefore it is essential to ensure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

If you find yourself in a serious or life-threatening emergency or you need an ambulance, dial 112. Calls are free of charge. Since ambulance services are not free of charge, it is advisable to only call an ambulance if the patient is not in a fit state to go by car, taxi, bus or tram. An A&E department is called a "spoedeisende hulp". 

Hospitals are called "ziekenhuis" in the Netherlands. Emergency treatment at hospital is covered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Although the EHIC allows anyone who falls ill on holiday in the Netherlands to access healthcare at reduced cost or sometimes free it does not cover private treatment. As healthcare providers in the Netherlands are all private entities, Dutch residents have to take out a basic level of health insurance.

Anyone needing to see a GP should check that the GP has a contract with the Zilveren Kruis Health insurance company, the government contracted health insurer. 

If the person is admitted to hospital he will need to present either a valid EHIC or the GP referral with proof of health insurance to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident. Again ensure the hospital has a contract with the Zilveren Kruis.

Checks can be made by contacting the organisation:

Email gbr@zilverenkruis.nl or call 0031 (0) 33 445 68 70 for advice.

Even with the EHIC a patient may have to pay for treatment in advance or make patient contributions (co-payments). The Zilveren Kruis may only be able to reimburse for part of the treatment. 

Claims for reimbursements for patient co-payments must be made before returning to the UK by sending the original bill, a copy of your EHIC and your bank details to:
Zilveren Kruis
Groep Buitenlands Recht
Postbus 650
7300 AR Apledoorn

Prescriptions
Pharmacies are called "apotheek" in Dutch. 

Pharmacists are able to give advice for minor complaints. Opening hours vary, but the address of the nearest out-of-hours pharmacy will be indicated on the door. You can also call 020 694 8709 to find on-duty pharmacies.

The Netherlands package holiday injury claims

Holidaymakers to the Netherlands who booked their trip through a package tour operator are protected by specific regulations. The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 enable people who have been injured abroad to make a claim against the UK-based holiday company, through the Courts in England and Wales.

Categories of common Netherlands holiday injuries

Cycling holiday accidents in the Netherlands

27% of all trips in the Netherlands are taken by bike, mainly on safe, continuous, convenient bike routes, meaning that although there is a very high number of cyclists, accidents are less likely than in the UK.
However holiday cyclists may be unfamiliar with their hired cycle and unused to travelling on the right hand side of the road. Lapses in concentration may also cause accidents, resulting in bruises and broken bones to cyclists or pedestrians using the routes.

Dutch strict liability laws state that in a collision between a faster, larger vehicle and a slower, more vulnerable one, the former is liable by default, unless the vehicle's driver can prove otherwise.
It means that in a collision between a car and a bicycle the car driver is at fault, but in a collision between a pedestrian and a bicycle, the cyclist is to blame. 

Road traffic accidents in the Netherlands

Accessible by ferry and Eurotunnel, self-drive holidays are an excellent way to travel through the Netherlands. By law drivers must have a valid full UK driving licence, insurance, vehicle documents and identification.

According to the Department for Transport, accident rates are similar to those in the UK and have shown a reduction since 2013.
Unfamiliar roads and signs and driving on the right make British drivers more vulnerable to accidents, particularly at roundabouts where the right of way varies from one to another.

Trams present a particular hazard to other road users as they have priority over other traffic and are noted for using that right. They may stop in the middle of the road to allow passengers on and off and car drivers, cyclists and pedestrians must all be mindful of this to avoid accidents. 

Pedestrians should also be extremely careful when crossing roads, especially on zebra crossings. Cycles and mopeds enjoy right of way over motor vehicles and often ignore road traffic rules and red lights. Crossing the road without a green signal to do so can be interpreted by local law as Jaywalking, even if it is safe to do and Dutch police have been known to hand out fines in such instances.

Drug and drink related injuries

Although the Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of so-called ‘soft drugs',  drugs are prohibited and the tolerance only exists for designated cafes and other premises in the major cities. 

Amsterdam health authorities have warned of the danger of buying a substance sold as cocaine, which is actually white heroin and has caused a number of deaths. 

The sale of both dry and fresh psychoactive mushrooms is forbidden by law. Combinations of alcohol, cannabis and wild mushrooms are a fatal cocktail and have resulted in several deaths.

There is also the possibility of drinks being spiked and young women and those not in groups should never leave drinks unattended. Anyone who believes she may have been the victim of a spiked drink should seek immediate medical attention.

Water injuries and drowning

Deaths occur each year due to drowning in the canals of Amsterdam. Although the majority of these happen as a result of celebrations that include heavy drinking and/or smoking cannabis it is advisable to take particular care when travelling beside canals.

Do I need a Dutch lawyer to make a personal injury claim?

If you have been injured during a non-package holiday, it may still be possible for a UK-based solicitor to pursue your claim through the Courts in England and Wales.

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 can be complex.

What to do next

Whether you have been injured on a city break in Amsterdam, Utrecht or Maastrict; cycling through the Dutch countryside or on a beach holiday in Zeeland 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 Consulate General Amsterdam
Koningslaan 44
1075 AE Amsterdam
Netherlands
Telephone+31 (0)20 676 4343

Opening hours
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 09:00 to 12:30.
There is a 24/7 service for the most urgent cases.