Injury or illness in Spain compensation claims

In the following article we set out what you should know about making an injury or illness compensation claim in Spain.

How much can I claim?

Please note

Our panel of solicitors are no longer able to assist with compensation claims for accidents abroad.

The time limit (or limitation date) for making a compensation claim following an accident or illness in Spain 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 Spain, 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 Spain during a trip that was booked privately (not booked through a UK tour operator) 1 year (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:

  • Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport, Madrid
  • Barcelona-El Prat airport, Barcelona
  • Palma de Mallorca airport
  • Other Spanish airports serving international destinations
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.

Spanish resort

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

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.

Who to contact in an emergency incident in Spain

Phone 112 to speak to the Spanish emergency services. Incidents including road accidents and criminal assaults can be reported one of several Spanish police forces (the Policia Nacional, the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) and regional police, Policia Foral in Navarre, Ertzaintza in the Basque Country and the Mossos d'Esquadra in Catalonia). The Civil Guard can also be contacted by calling 062.

Whether you have returned home from Spain, are being treated in a Spanish 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

Medical treatment following an accident

In a medical emergency, phone 112 or 061 to arrange an ambulance (ambulancia). The Spanish word for A&E department is "urgencias".

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

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.

Spanish package holiday injury claims

Holidaymakers to Spain 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.

Package tour operators in Spain

Many of the major UK holiday companies operate package holidays to Spain, including Thomson, Thomas Cook, First Choice and Saga Holidays. Popular package tour resorts include the Costa de Almeria, Costa Blanca and Costa Dorada.

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

Below are listed some of the most popular Spanish resorts and hotels, as promoted by tour operators in 2016:

  • Sandos San Blas, Golf del Sur
  • Sol Calas de Mallorca, Majorca
  • Hotel Barceló Santiago, Tenerife
  • Sensatori Resort Ibiza, Cala Tarida
  • Fergus Montemar, Pineda
  • Be Live Family Costa Los Gigantes, Playa de la Arena
  • Monte Feliz, Gran Canaria
  • Holiday Village Costa Del Sol, Benalmadena
  • Hotel Regente, Benidorm

(This information is provided for information purposes only.)

Categories of Spanish holiday injury claim

Holiday food poisoning and waterborne illness in Spain

Food poisoning in Spain affects more British holidaymakers than outbreaks anywhere else in the world, according to a 2015 newspaper survey.

The Health Protection Agency have reported that Spain is ranked 1st in the world in terms of volume of travel-associated gastrointestinal illness cases.

Slips, trips and balcony falls

The FCO report a greater risk of balcony falls affecting British tourists. Alcohol is cited as a cause of some falls, however poor building safety standards have contributed to accidents.

The minimum permitted height in EU member states is 1m. Several countries have raised this to 1.1m. In Spain, required heights vary across the country.

Sports and adventure holiday accidents in Spain

Climbing and walking holidays in the Pyrenees, Picos de Europa, Sierra de Guadarrama and Sierra Nevada regions, surfing in Santander and cycling across Andalusia are popular with travellers.

Although activity holidays do carry inherently higher risks, tour operator, organisers and instructors are likely to be liable for any injuries that result from their negligence, including broken arms, leg fractures, spinal injuries and concussion.

Road traffic accidents in Spain

According to Government data, the road accident rate in Spain is almost 30% higher than in UK. Motorways in Spain are reported to be particularly dangerous.

Reporting a road accident to the Spanish authorities is recommend. Under Spanish law, criminal jurisdiction takes precedence over civil jurisdiction, and criminal courts can award injury compensation. It is common for claimants in Spain to lodge a formal complaint with the criminal court for this purpose.

Do I need a Spanish 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 Spanish 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 can be complex and limitation dates in Spain are much shorter.

Useful contact details

British Embassy Madrid

Torre Espacio
Paseo de la Castellana 259D
28046 Madrid
Tel: (+34) 91 714 6300
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm

British Consulate General Barcelona

The Consulate in Barcelona provides services to Britons in Andorra, Aragon and Catalonia.

Avda Diagonal 477-13
08036 Barcelona
Tel: (+34) 93 366 6200

The British Embassy also provide consular services in Alicante, Ibiza, Las Palmas, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife.

Meet the team

Our national network of solicitors handle all types of personal injury claims and have a wealth of expertise with short-term, serious and life-changing injury claims. Our lawyers are selected on the basis of their success rate in winning claims and their knowledge and expertise.

Meet the team - click here.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Emma Bell Employers and Public Liability Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
Paul Carvis, Personal injury solicitor

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

Ask an expert

If you have any questions about the claims process or any aspect of injury compensation, let us know: