Each year, millions of Brits travel overseas with family and friends, with many assuming that everything will be plain sailing. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, with latest figures showing that an estimated 4.4 million British holidaymakers suffered an injury while abroad during the last three years. Many of these accidents abroad could have been prevented had some basic steps been taken in advance.

Injury can happen to the best of us and if it is due to someone else's negligence you could be entitled to compensation.

With the holiday season almost upon us, we've compiled a short pre-holiday checklist to ensure unnecessary risks are avoided and what steps need to be taken should the worst happen.

Have you applied or renewed your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)?

Accidents can happen at any moment, including serious injuries such as spinal cord damage, brain injuries and head injuries.

Due to the UK operating a residency-based healthcare system, the British public are entitled to an EHIC card providing access to state-funded treatment when visiting another European Economic Area (EEA) country.

The EHIC card entitles the holder to state funded healthcare in the EU country where they are injured. It is not to be confused with travel insurance. In some extreme cases, sufferers may require transportation back to the UK, something the EHIC card does not cover but travel insurance should. Consider travel insurance to protect you and your family.

What do I need to do to make a holiday claim?

In the event of an injury abroad, it is important that the incident is reported to your travel agent as soon as possible. Following this, the travel agent should make a note of your injury in their accident log book, and any additional incident information that may be needed for the claim, such as names and addresses of witnesses and the time and location your accident. Wherever possible, we would advise taking photographs of the entry in the book and of where the accident took place, as this can be vital evidence to support a claim.

In order to pursue a compensation claim, you must be able to prove that another party was at fault. For example, if you contracted a sickness bug through consuming poorly cooked food at your hotel restaurant, then you would be entitled to a compensation claim.

How long do I have to make a claim?

According to UK law, citizens have three years to initiate a personal injury claim for compensation following an accident abroad.

Martyn Gwyther, head of overseas accident claims at Thompsons Solicitors, said: "By planning ahead and being aware of your surroundings you can avoid unnecessary risk and serious injury during your time abroad. But, should the worst happen, and someone causes you or a member or your family injury that was not your fault then you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

"Compensation claims for accidents and injuries abroad can be complex, especially if they involve different laws in different countries. Using a solicitor who has the relevant experience is really important as they will be able to guide you through the process every step of the way."