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Injured in Poland? - How much No Win No Fee compensation can I claim?

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Howard Willis

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Recent years have seen Poland grow in popularity with British holidaymakers, with around 650,000 visiting each year.

Popular destinations for city breaks include Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk; while those wishing to enjoy outdoor pursuits choose the Bialowieza National Park and the Great Malsurian Lakes in the north, or the High Tatra Mountains on the border between Poland and Slovakia.

Most visits to Poland are trouble free, however the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises holidaymakers to be aware of the possibility of street crimes and petty thefts. Rail travellers may be at risk of robbery, particularly on overnight sleeper trains. 

The FCO also advises that there have been a small number of reports of drinks being spiked, so holidaymakers should not leave drinks unattended nor accept drinks from casual acquaintances.

Other potential hazards in Poland include road traffic accidents, with Poland ranking high among EU countries with a road fatality rate almost 3 times that of the UK; risks of tick-borne encephalitis, and the possibility of contracting gastro-intestinal illness or Hepatitis A from contaminated food or water.

If you have sustained an injury or illness while on holiday in Poland as the result of another party's negligence, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim.

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 are the time limits to claim compensation in Poland?

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

On a flight to or from Poland, 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 Poland during a trip that was booked privately (not booked through a UK tour operator) - 3 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) - 2 years 

Applicable journeys include flights to or from:

•    Warsaw, Warsaw Chopin Airport
•    Krakow, John Paul II International Airport Krakow-Balice
•    Gdansk (Tricity), Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport
•    Katowice, Katowice International Airport
•    Warsaw, Warsaw-Modlin Airport
•    Wroclaw, Wroclaw-Copernicus Airport
•    Poznan, Poznan-Lawica Henryk Wieniawski Airport
•    Rzeszow, Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport
•    Szczecin, "Solidarity" Szczecin-Goleniow Airport
•    Bydgoszcz, Bydgoszcz Ignacy Jan Paderewski Airport
•    Lodz, Lodz Wladyslaw Reymont Airport
•    Lublin, Lublin Airport  

*Contact a specialist solicitor for more information or calculate how long you have to make a claim here.

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

Following the below steps can improve your claim's chance of success, regardless of whether you have returned home from Poland, are being treated in a Polish hospital, or are continuing with your holiday:

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

Read more about holiday accident and illness claims.

Who to contact in an emergency incident in Poland

If you need to contact someone in an emergency during you holiday in Poland you should dial 112. Emergency services are free of charge.

Other important numbers are:
•    999 - ambulance services
•    998 - fire brigade
•    997 - police
•    601 100 300 - mountain rescue
•    601 100 100 - water rescue

Medical treatment following an accident

British visitors to Poland are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC enables injured holidaymakers to seek medically necessary state-provided healthcare from a Poland hospital, under the same conditions as a person with Poland health insurance. As the

EHIC does not cover private treatment it is important to ensure you are treated by a healthcare provider that has a contract with the Polish National Health Fund (NFZ). Be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative as any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable

In general, medical facilities in Poland are comparable to those in the UK. Polish doctors and nurses are well qualified but English is not always widely spoken and you may face communication difficulties

The EHIC does not cover travel costs or stolen property and is not a substitute for travel insurance or making a claim following an injury.

Doctors

Doctors' surgeries are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. After 6pm on workdays, weekends and on holidays, a 24 hour-medical service is provided by various health units contracted by the NFZ. 

Dentists

Dentists often offer both NFZ and private treatment. NFZ services therefore might not be available every day of the week, and you should check with the surgery in advance. A list of free services and materials is also available at dentist surgeries. Non-standard services and materials are charged.

Hospital treatment

As in the UK, you will need to be referred for any hospital treatment by a doctor. Make sure you are referred to a public hospital, as only these provide treatment free of charge. Even in a public hospital, ensure you have a valid EHIC and double-check you are not treated as a private patient.

Operations, diagnostic tests and medicines are provided free of charge during your hospital stay. 

Prescriptions

A prescription should be issued by a doctor who practices within the NFZ. Take your prescription and your EHIC to the pharmacist. Medicines are charged at:

•    a lump-sum price of 3,20 zl - for basic medicines
•    30% or 50% of the price of a medicine - for supplementary medicines
•    the full price in case of medicines - which are not included in the reimbursed drugs list 

Poland package holiday injury claims

Holidaymakers to Poland 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.

A number of the major UK holiday companies operate package holidays to Poland, including 

•    Thomas Cook
•    Titan Travel 
•    Riviera Travel
•    EasyJet
•    Cosmos
•    Cox and Kings

The injury or illness should be reported to the tour company's representative at the resort in Poland. If there is no rep available, a report should be made to the operator's UK head office.

Categories of common Poland holiday injuries

Water-borne illnesses in Poland

Drinking water in Poland is chlorinated and has no ill effect on the local population. However, some local strains of e. coli may be present in very small concentrations in the local water supply and may cause diarrhoea in travellers as they are different to those their bodies are used to. Drinking bottled water is therefore advised.

Milk is pasteurized and safe to drink. Butter, cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream are safe.

Local meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and fruits are safe to eat.

Some organisations warn of the risk of contracting Hepatitis A through contaminated water, and it may be wise to consider vaccination before travelling to less well developed areas of Poland.

Sports and adventure holiday accidents in Poland

A few specialist tour operators offer walking holidays in the Tatra Mountains of Poland, including Exodus and KE Adventure.

Walking trails are almost always well marked but are often rough and stony underfoot. The walks often involve long ascents and descents, with steep, long drops as well as paths traversing ridgelines. There may be risks of falls and injuries where ground is unstable and the area is not recommended for those who may who suffer from vertigo.

Wet weather may make the ground slippery even on low level walks.

Always only choose a holiday suited to your own level of fitness and ensure you have suitable boots and clothing for the trip.

Injuries from insect bites

Travellers in forests, woods and grassy areas, particularly during the summer, may be at risk of contracting tick-borne encephalitis or Lyme disease. The diseases are spread mainly through the bites of infected ticks (not an insect but an arachnid).

Although ticks usually feed on small mammals they may crawl on humans' skin or clothing before attaching themselves to feed, often in skin folds in the groin or armpit.

Walkers and campers are most at risk and are advised to wear long trousers tucked into socks to prevent ticks crawling up the legs. Special tick removing tools are widely available and should be carried so that any attached ticks may be quickly and effectively removed.

Do I need a Polish 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 Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk, Karowice, or a walking holiday in the Tatra Mountains 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 arrange a callback or start your claim online.

Useful contact details

British Embassy Warsaw
ul. Kawalerii 12
00-468 Warsaw
mazowieckie
Poland
Telephone+48 22 311 00 00

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm. Public holidays closed

Consular Section opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday - 9:00am to 12:30pm. Wednesday and public holidays closed.