What Should You Do If You Have An Accident On Holiday In France?
France is a popular destination for holidaymakers as it is considered not only to be a safe country to visit but also because it caters for a variety of different holiday preferences. This includes whether you want to go skiing in the Alps, soak up the sun on the beach in the South, visit the beautiful and scenic countryside and vineyards, or enjoy the hustle and bustle of Paris, France has it all.
When planning your holiday, the last thing on your mind would be the thought that you may be involved in an accident or become ill whilst away. Unfortunately, for a minority, this is indeed what may happen. If you sustain an injury or become ill, and it was caused by someone else, you could be eligible to make a compensation claim. But for those who have never been involved in making a personal injury claim, it could be a very daunting prospect.
You may have many questions which includes things like where do you begin when making a compensation claim? What steps do you need to take? Do you even have a valid claim? What sort of evidence do you need? And so on. This guide provides a lot of valuable information and answers the many questions you may have regarding making a personal injury claim if you are injured or fall sick on holiday in France.
Jump to a section
- A guide to personal injury claims for illnesses or accidents on holiday in France
- Getting sick or being injured when on holiday in France
- Who could be responsible for the personal injury, accident or illness you suffered?
- What should tourists do if sick or hurt on holiday in France?
- Where can I get help in France?
- How the British Embassy in France could help you
- Why is it important to have travel insurance if you suffer a personal injury?
- Top French holiday destinations for British visitors
- Common illnesses people can get on holiday in France
- Food poisoning/food allergies when on holiday in France
- Sickness due to lack of hygiene in a restaurant or hotel
- How to deal with a car crash or accidents on the road in France
- Injuries caused by poor maintenance in a hotel
- How to avoid accidents and what to do if injured when skiing or snowboarding in France
- What are the most common holiday accidents in France?
- Is my holiday protected under the Package Travel Regulations?
- How to make a personal injury claim for an accident on holiday in France
- How much could my French holiday accident personal injury claim be worth?
- Where Can I Find Out More About Accidents On Holiday In France
Have you had an accident in France? If the answer is yes, there’s a possibility that you could be entitled to make a compensation claim providing someone else was to blame. Before embarking on a compensation claim, however, you need to consider whether or not the following statements apply to your claim:
- You can prove the accident or incident was down to somebody else’s negligence or the fault of a third party
- You sought medical assistance for your injury or illness you experienced while on holiday in France
- The accident or incident is within the personal injury claims time limit. In general, the time limit for a personal injury claim is 3 years, but this can vary depending on the circumstances of an accident, incident and injuries sustained
If you believe all of the above apply to your claim, you could be entitled to seek compensation by making a claim for your accident on holiday in France.
The guide provides lots of information about the different types of claims you can make which includes things like skiing accident claims, food poisoning and food allergy claims, motorcycle accident claims and other road traffic accident claims as well as many more. The guide looks at what you should do in the event of an accident, what items you can include in your claim, the healthcare for tourists in France that could be available and how to see a doctor in France. It also details how much compensation you may be awarded in a successful claim.
Making a claim for an accident on holiday in France can be complex and is rarely straightforward and so by using this guide to gain the basic knowledge on how to proceed with a personal injury claims, helps lessen the worry and stress you could be going through when injured or you fall ill on holiday in France.
‘Personal injury’ is a term used for a whole spectrum of different types of injuries that range from minor to very severe. These injuries can be caused by many different reasons and are often written off as simply ‘just an accident’. However, many accidents could have been prevented had it not been for someone else’s negligence. This could entitle a victim to file a claim for compensation. A personal injury can include any of the following:
- A physical injury
- An illness
- A disease
- A psychological trauma, injury or illness
Personal injury claims can be made for an injury or illness/disease caused by many different reasons. Some examples of personal injury claims in France include the following:
- If you tripped or slipped over and fell resulting in an injury because of something on the floor of a hotel was not either accurately signposted, or should not have been there, you may have cause to claim compensation
- If you suffer a traumatic event whilst on holiday in France which resulted in psychological issues namely anxiety or panic attacks, for example, this may entitled you to file a personal injury claim against a third party
- If you are injured after buying a faulty item from a store in France whilst on holiday, you may be able to seek compensation
- If the health and safety and hygiene standards at a restaurant in France were lacking, resulting in you becoming ill due to food poisoning, you may be able to seek compensation
- If you suffer an injury in a road traffic accident caused by someone else such as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, you may be able to file a successful personal injury claim
- If you sustain an injury due to faulty hired skiing equipment being supplied to you to use, you may be entitled to seek compensation
There are many scenarios whereby you could suffer a personal injury whilst on holiday in France. Many people tend to seek the help and advice of a personal injury lawyer in order to determine if their personal injury is valid.
To ensure your travel claim in France has the best chance of success, it is essential that you can prove who was responsible for the accident. Depending on the circumstances of your accident or illness, different people, businesses or organisations could be responsible for the injuries or illness you suffered. For example, if you tripped and fell down the stairs in your hotel because of loose floor coverings or because of poor lighting, the hotel may be responsible due to their negligence regarding their duty of care to you as their customer. In short, the hotel failed to provide a safe environment. Or, if you become injured when embarking or disembarking from a boat whilst on an excursion, the company you booked the trip with may be responsible.
As long you can prove that your accident occurred due to another person’s negligence, you may have a valid claim against the third party. Without proof, it is unlikely that your claim would be successful. Hiring a personal injury solicitor to help with determining who is liable is beneficial as they are aware of the legalities involved in seeking compensation.
If you have an accident on holiday in France, there are steps you can take which provide crucial evidence that would support your claim and which would help prove who could be responsible for causing your injuries. If you hire the services of a personal injury solicitor to help file your claim, they would offer essential assistance, but knowing what steps you should take can often help speed up the process:
- Medical Report – the first thing to do is to see a medical professional to have your injury treated and assessed. A medical report would be made detailing the diagnosis, recommended treatment, future treatments and prognosis. One of the main influences on your final settlement would be assessed on the extent of your injuries, its severity and the impact it has on your future life. As such, the medical report is a vital piece of evidence when filing a personal injury claim
- Witnesses – was there anyone who witnessed your accident? If so, take down their contact details and get a witness statement from them. Witness statements really help strengthen your case as they will back up your version of events, helping to prove a defendants’ liability
- Photos – if at all possible, take photos of the scene of the accident and try to show why the accident occurred if applicable. For example, if you slipped over in the hotel due to a spillage on the floor, take a photo showing the floor with the spillage. Also, take photos of the injury you sustained
- Expenses – keep receipts as evidence of any expenses you have incurred directly due to your injury as these would be required when claiming special damages
- Loss of income – keep a record of any income you have lost, or future income you may lose because of your injury
Just by following these steps, you would have gathered evidence to support your claim.
A few other steps that you would need to take involve informing your travel insurance provider, the travel agent who is provided your holiday, this is particularly important if it was booked as a package holiday, and also, if you were injured in a road accident, you need to inform the Police, and to ask for a copy of the incident report and number.
There are a few organisations in France where you can seek assistance if you are injured or become ill whilst on holiday in France. The first places to contact are are follows:
- Your package holiday agent or travel company
- The French healthcare organisation
- Your travel insurance provider
- The British Embassy (contact details can be found below)
If you are injured or become sick whilst in France and need to be hospitalised, a representative of the British Embassy in France should contact you within 24 hours. They would then contact the travel insurance provider on your behalf and would also inform your family about what has happened to you and inform them of your whereabouts.
The British Embassy in France contact details are as follows:
British Embassy Paris
35, Rue de Faubourg St Honore`
Paris Cedex 08
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 44 51 31 00
It is also worth looking at the following website for further help and advice:
As both the UK and France are currently part of the EU, you could use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare in France just as if you were a local. If you don’t already have one, you can apply for one free of charge from the UK government website. However, although having an EHIC is a good idea and could get you access to healthcare, it does not by any means replace the necessity of having travel health insurance in place. EHIC only covers certain medical care but does not cover things like on-going treatment as an out-patient, or medical care whilst returning to the UK for example. If were injured in France and only had an EHIC, you could find yourself with astronomical medical bills depending on your injury if you do not have comprehensive travel insurance in place.
Many areas in France are popular with UK tourists and offer a range of different types of holidays which includes things like skiing, wonderful beaches, picturesque countryside and city breaks. Some of the most popular destinations in France include:
- Paris – the capital of France with the Le Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph and Notre Dame, is very popular. There are lots of lovely bistros, patisseries and cafes to visit and plenty of shops in the capital
- Corsica – this is a laid back French island in the Med. Bastia is the port city which welcomes holidaymakers off of the ferry. You can take a train journey through the mountains to a beautiful beach and there are lots of walking trails to explore to
- Nice – Nice has lots of boutiques and restaurants and a number of pebbled beaches. For a picturesque view of the bay and Bay of Angels, you can walk up castle hill
- Lyon – This city is great for those interested in historical Roman amphitheatres, cobbled streets and antique markets. Lyon also hosts vibrant music and theatre festivals and has a number of interesting museums
- Chamonix – In 1924, the winter Olympics were hosted here. The main sites are Western Europe’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc, and the many ski resorts. The James Bond film ‘The World is not Enough.’ featuring Pierce Brosnan was filmed in Chamonix
Statistics for 2014 show that the highest number of overnight stays spend in France are by visitors from these countries:
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There are a number of illnesses that you can get when on holiday in France, some more common than others which include the following:
- Tick-Borne Encephalitis – spread mainly through bites from infected ticks, it occurs more often during the summer months in grassy areas and forests. Campers and hikers tend to be more at risk
- Salmonella – this is a harmful bacterium which can cause problems in the digestive system. Sometimes, in severe cases, health problems may continue for some while after the initial illness. Salmonella is most commonly caught due to food poisoning and poor hygiene. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea, Bloody stools, fever, rash, headaches and lethargy
- E. Coli – this is a type of bacteria that has various strains. Some strains live in people’s digestive system harmlessly, but there are some strains that are harmful to our health and can cause kidney failure if left untreated due to a deadly toxin they release in the gut. The symptoms of E-Coli are much the same as with salmonella with stomach cramps also. E- Coli is spread by consuming contaminated water, under-cooked meats and unpasteurised milk
Food poisoning is probably the most common illness contracted by people who go on holiday in France and other destinations. Although for the majority of people, symptoms may go after a day or two, for a minority of people, the symptoms can be severe resulting in on-going health problems long after the first symptoms have disappeared. Food poisoning can also, although thankfully rarely, be fatal.
Warmer climates like the South of France, tend to be the more common areas where food poisoning can occur, often due to improper storage of food, and insects being around buffet tables which are frequently used for mealtimes at all-inclusive holiday resorts.
Reasons for food poisoning include:
- Incorrect temperature when it comes to food storage. If certain foods become warm, bacteria can flourish rapidly
- Unhygienic practices – practising good hygiene is essential in preventing food poisoning as it lessens the chance of food contamination. For example, E Coli can be spread through food being contaminated by human sewage and animal faeces, and so if someone who works in a restaurant prepares a customer’s food after visiting the toilet without washing their hands thoroughly, they run the risk of contaminating the food with the E Coli bacterium or other harmful bacteria
- Uncooked meat, poultry and seafood – food must be cooked thoroughly to kill off any harmful bacterium in the food
- Incorrect storage of food – Incorrectly storing different foods such as uncooked and cooked meats could cause cross contamination
- Buffet food that isn’t kept at the correct temperature – cold food in a buffet should be kept below 5oC, and hot foods above 60oC in order to keep them safe for consumption
- Unclean utensils – dirty utensils can easily increase the chances of bacterium growing and being spread
- Improper food preparation
- Insects and other wildlife – insects like flies can land anywhere, often on animal faeces, road kill and many other unsanitary things. If they can then land on food, any germs and bacteria they have picked up will spread. Buffets are particularly at risk of this
Food poisoning caused by any of the above could be prevented if health and safety rules and regulations are followed. If restaurant and food outlet owners in France become negligent and you get sick, providing you can prove you became ill after eating at their restaurant, it may entitle you to seek compensation by filing personal injury claim.
Poor hygiene in restaurants, as mentioned above, can result in food poisoning due to the growth and spread of harmful bacteria.
Lack of hygiene in a hotel can also result in an outbreak of bacteria causing infections. The hotel management should ensure that housekeeping staff are adequately educated and trained in good hygienic practices. If they are not, hotel rooms and public areas throughout the resort could become hot spots for germs and bacteria to flourish which could be harmful to your health and well-being. Some of the most common cleaning mistakes in hotels in France include the following:
- Absence or shortage of an effective disinfectant – some resorts in France may not use cleaning products adequate for the job if they use any at all. This can particularly be a problem where swimming pools are concerned because the lack of chlorine, or an insufficient amount of chlorine added to the water could result in bacteria like E –Coli being easily spread
- Not doing the job properly through rushing – cleaning staff in hotels are often under pressure to get jobs done in a specific amount of time. This could mean they cut corners by not doing certain cleaning duties as regularly as they should in order to save time. This could lead to areas becoming dirty and bacteria and germ-ridden
Many tourists travel on the roads each year so it is not uncommon for them to be involved in a road traffic accident. For British tourists, driving in France can be a bit confusing as they have to drive on the opposite side of the road to what they are used to in the UK. On top of this, the road signs differ slightly to our own. Many tourists choose to hire a vehicle once they have reached their holiday destination so they can get around whilst on holiday, and some travel through France, often towing a caravan or trailer to get to their destination. However, even though considering the differences you may face on the roads as a tourist, if you are involved in an accident on the road, sometimes it is someone else’s fault. Should this be the case, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
If you are the victim of a road traffic accident that was not your fault, you must take the following steps:
- Call the emergency services on 112 to inform the police and to request an ambulance if necessary
- Seek medical attention for your injury as soon as possible
- Take photographs of the scene which will help to show how the accident occurred, and of your injuries
- Take down the details of the offending driver and their vehicle details which must include the name and address of their insurers, the make and registration number of their vehicle
- Get the contact details of any witnesses
- If you were driving a hire car or were the passenger in a hire car, you would need to inform the car rental company
- Contact your travel insurance provider
- If applicable, contact your holiday provider
- Make sure to keep all receipts of any costs you may have incurred due to this incident which you could claim in special damages when you file a personal injury claim
Although filing a personal injury claim for a road traffic accident in France shouldn’t be any more complicated than in the UK, it may help to get advice from an experienced personal injury solicitor so that the claim is conducted effectively from the outset.
The hotel you are staying in has a duty of care to all visitors to its premises which is to provide safe conditions so as to minimise any chances of someone sustaining an injury or falling ill. In order to do this, they should ensure that all areas of the hotel are regularly maintained which must include fixing or replacing any damaged or broken items, keeping decorations and floor coverings in a good condition, regularly checking all electric sockets, appliances and equipment, and so on. If the hotel became negligent in their responsibilities to provide a safe environment and you are injured as a direct consequence of their negligence, you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim against them.
When participating in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding whilst in France, extra care needs to be taken as the risk of injury is higher due to the nature of the sports. Compensation for serious injuries following a skiing accident in France could be claimed if you sustain these injuries due to the negligence of someone else.
Injuries sustained in a skiing accident, due to the speed you may be travelling at, can be serious and certainly for these types of holidays, having travel insurance is essential.
When staying at a ski resort, you need to make sure that they are fully accredited and have the correct insurances in place. Equipment for hire in the resorts, as well as ski lifts and other ski equipment, must be regularly maintained to ensure they are in good working order. The different slope levels should also be correctly signposted to ensure that people use the recommended slope for their level of expertise. If a beginner was to go down a route designated for advanced skiers, due to poor direction and information signs or a lack of signs, they risk suffering severe injury which could entitle them to claim compensation. If you suffered an injury due to faulty equipment, you may be able to sue for damages due to negligence.
If you suffer an injury whilst skiing or snowboarding in France, although some injuries can be minor,you may sustain a serious injury and as such you must do the following:
- Seek medical care
- Report the accident to the ski resort and make sure it is logged correctly
- Contact your travel insurance provider
- Contact your holiday package provider
- Take photographic evidence if possible of the scene of the accident, of any faulty equipment, of the lack of, or insufficient sign posting, or anything else that caused the accident. Also, take photos of your injury
- Take down contact details of witnesses
Accidents can happen anywhere whilst on holiday in France, but the most common are due to the following:
- Slip, trip and fall accidents in the hotel or a restaurant
- Balcony accidents
- Falling down stairs
- Road accidents
- Carbon Monoxide poisoning
- Swimming pool accidents
- Slips in the shower
- Faulty lifts
- Fire in the hotel
- Burns from food and drink that is too hot to consume
- Food poisoning
Regardless of the type of accident you may have had, if it was someone else’s fault and it can be proven, you may have the grounds to make a claim for your accident on holiday in France.
All UK Package deals are protected under The Package Travel, Package Holiday, and Package Tour Regulations 1992. Your holiday is classed as a package holiday if the following applies:
- You were supplied with an ATOL Certificate when you booked your package holiday by your travel operator
- Your holiday includes the accommodation, flights / travel arrangements, and meals as a single priced booking
Although making a compensation claim can’t change what has happened to you, or make your injury better, it can provide financial assistance whilst you recover, and cover the expenses you may have incurred as a result of being injured while on holiday in France. Also, the money awarded can provide financial protection from any lost income, or future loss of income you had to endure. For some people, it can also be a means of closure on the incident, allowing them to stop questioning themselves on if they were to blame or that they could’ve done something differently to have prevented it, and to move on with their life.
In order to conduct your claim properly and give it the best chance of success, hiring legal assistance is paramount. When looking for a personal injury lawyer, you may want to consider the following in order to hire the right one for you:
- Experience – ideally, you want to hire someone who has a great deal of experience in the industry of personal injury claims, and particularly in dealing with travel claims in France so that nothing is missed that could be important in strengthening your case
- Costs of legal fees – before starting your claim, you need to consider the financial aspect of hiring legal help. Professional legal fees can be high and compensation claims can sometimes take a few months, and in very complex cases, years to come to completion without any guarantee of winning in the end. You need to investigate how much you could be charged and what payment structure you may be offered to make sure you can afford the payments should you not be successful. The best and most affordable way of hiring legal representation, is to choose experienced solicitor who offers a no win no fee terms. With this type of agreement, there are no upfront costs or costs during the claims process. The fees are only paid after completion and only if the case was successful. With no win no fee, there is no financial risk to yourself
- Success Rate – it’s a good idea to pick a solicitor who has won many successful cases because this is proof in itself that they know what they’re doing and are more likely to secure compensation for you as well
- Customer Reviews – reading customer reviews will give you a true and unbiased overview of the services the solicitor provides to make sure they are as good as they claim to be
The compensation final settlement amount is based on two categories, General Damages and Special Damages.
General damages represent the physical part of the claim. This is where having a medical record is really important as the type of injury and severity greatly influence this part of the claim. Generally, injuries that are more severe and have a greater impact on lifestyle and well-being will attract higher compensation amounts.
Special Damages represent the financial aspect of the claim covering any financial expenses and losses that are directly the result of the injury.
Compensation claim amounts are based on the latest judicial college guidelines which are regularly updated. Courts and solicitors use the Judicial College Guidelines when determining how much in the way of general damages you may be awarded.
The links below will take you to websites that offer further information and advice reading accidents on holiday whilst in France.
This is a useful guide from the NHS for sustaining injuries in France.
Find the latest up to date travel information for France on this government website.
Here you will find lots of helpful information on compensation claims for accidents and illnesses when on holiday in France.
Edited Honey 22/1/20