Apology for minor injuries could deter compensation claims, finds study

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Most holidaymakers who sustain relatively minor injuries when on holiday want only courtesy and not compensation from operators, a new study shows.

But the poll of more than 650 people by a law firm found that only 4% of those who had suffered an accident overseas were contacted by the companies with which they had booked a package holiday after returning home.

And three-quarters expected operators to provide travel and medical assistance in the event of their being injured while on holiday.

Michael Walker, a lawyer specialising in holiday accident claims at JMW Solicitors which carried out the research, suggested that an absence of clarity about what help tourists were entitled to had made matters worse.

“Customers put a great deal of faith in the companies with which they book their holidays. The majority of tourists with whom we spoke shared the belief that once they paid for their trips, operators would have a responsibility to look after them during their time away,” he said.

“Sadly, we found that holidaymakers’ goodwill is rarely reciprocated. Instead, individuals only discover confusion about what support they are entitled to when problems arise.

“Not only do people injured through no fault of their own seem to face a lack of support from their tour operator while abroad, they also have an onerous task trying to prove that they weren’t to blame.

“Furthermore, very few of those experiencing difficulties had any contact from operators to make that they were okay after they returned home.

“It is perhaps only because we regard holidays as being unlike most other purchases that we have not seen holiday companies on the end of the kind of criticism which has dogged retailers – particularly e-commerce operators – in recent years.”

Walker pointed out that even simple communication might be enough to reduce the “torment” which tourists can go through.

“Regularly, the clients that we work with who have been injured abroad tell us about their disappointment at a tour operator’s lack of acknowledgment of their injury,” he added.

“That acknowledgement, an apology and the potential of setting things right means so much to the vast majority of our clients and can often be a driving force behind an individual’s choice to make a claim.

“Making clear what tour operators – and, indeed, holidaymakers – can or should do when people book their vacations is relatively straightforward but could be enough to avoid adding insult to quite unfortunate injury.”

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