In 2018 alone, Thompsons Solicitors secured £5.9 million in compensation for people who had an accident while on holiday. While accidents do happen, most common accidents on holiday can be avoided.

During the time of year where the number of people going abroad is at its highest, we have pulled together some advice about how to avoid common holiday accidents and make sure you remain injury-free when travelling abroad.

Whether you’re going on holiday to a beach resort or exploring a new city, this guide will make sure you’re aware of the most common holiday accidents and understand how to avoid them.

Falls from heights

One of the most common holiday accidents British people suffer on holiday is a fall from height. There are cases reported each year of holidaymakers falling from balconies, windows and staircases in their hotels – most of which could have been avoided. If your hotel room comes with a balcony, you should always act responsibly. Do not attempt to climb from one balcony to another, or attempt to jump into the swimming pool from a balcony. Never sit on balconies if they aren’t set up for that and don’t lean over them. Always supervise children on balconies unless they are totally enclosed and they can’t climb.

Underestimating the power of water

Drowning remains one of the most common holiday accidents abroad. According to statistics by the Safer Tourism Foundation, at least 25 British people drown in holiday pools each summer and 20% of serious incidents are caused by diving into shallow water. If you’re swimming in the sea abroad, be careful of the undercurrents as these can pull even the strongest of swimmers under, and always swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Make sure you understand warning flags on the beach, for example, a red flag will mean no swimming. If you’re swimming in the hotel pool or off rocks into the sea don’t dive unless you know the depths as you may misjudge the depth of it and could sustain a serious injury.

Not following the rules of the road

Different countries have different road safety rules. If you’re renting a vehicle abroad, make sure you have an understanding of the rules of the road and driving standards before getting behind the wheel.

According to the travel brand ABTA, as many as 4.5 million British adults have hired a moped or quad bike on holiday [1]. Common holiday accidents are often caused by these vehicles due to the little protection they offer, and because holidaymakers are unfamiliar with the roads and how to ride them.

If you’re thinking about hiring a motor vehicle of any type on holiday, make sure you are confident with driving/riding it and are familiar with the rules of the road. You should also make sure that the vehicle is part of a suitable and reputable excursion, in case you have a road accident and wish to take legal action. If you are involved in a road collision outside of the UK, follow our guide to claiming for a road traffic accident abroad.

Not skiing safely

While skiing holidays are great for enjoying the snow with family and friends, skiing is one of the most dangerous sports you can participate in. According to government statistics, between 2012 and 2016, there were 118 hospitalisations and 58 British deaths during skiing and snowboarding holidays. If you’ve booked to go on a ski trip, remember to respect others on the slopes, ensure you look clearly up and down the slopes before setting off, choose a route that doesn’t endanger others and follow the rules on overtaking. You should also control and adapt your speed to suit your own personal ability and weather conditions.

If you are involved in a ski accident, or have witnessed someone else injured in an accident on the slopes, remember to exchange details. For more advice on staying safe on a ski holiday, see our ski safety checklist.

How to avoid a holiday accident abroad 

As well as being mindful while you’re on holiday, you should also do your research to see if there are any precautions you should take before you get there. For example, you may need vaccinations to protect you from infections and serious diseases found in other parts of the world.

If you’re going on holiday abroad, make sure you take the necessary steps to avoid common holiday accidents and injuries. However, in the unfortunate event of an accident abroad, you may be entitled to make a holiday accident claim.

What should you do if you've had an accident abroad?

For road accidents:

  • Take notes, including car details and number plates, and photograph the accident
  • Exchange car insurance details
  • Take names and address of witnesses
  • Don't apologise or admit liability
  • Contact the police and obtain a European Accident Statement (EAS) to agree the facts of the accident – only sign it if you understand and agree with what’s on the form.

For other accidents:

  • Get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

This entitles you to state-funded medical treatment in all European Union countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

If you have to pay for medical treatment, keep all receipts and paperwork and claim back as soon as you can. The rules on claiming for individual countries can be found on the NHS choices website.

  • Get travel insurance

If you suffer an injury abroad, contact your insurer via the international number they provide you in your policy. An assistance company, arranged by your insurer, will usually deal with medical treatment. If you have to pay for treatment, keep a record of all receipts to claim back.

An infographic illustrating various statistics about holiday accidents

Making a holiday accident claim

Get in touch with our personal injury experts for free, no-obligation legal advice on 0800 0 224 244, or visit our foreign accidents page to find out more about making a holiday accident claim. Alternatively, take a look at our Travel Safe campaign page for more advice on staying safe abroad.