Every year, millions of Americans criss-cross the country by planes, trains, and automobiles to visit their families, go on vacations, and more. And while you never plan on something going wrong during your travels, accidents do happen and injuries can occur. Knowing what to do in the aftermath of these accidents can be a huge help in making sure the liable party is held accountable for their actions and your or your loved one gets on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
The Most Common Traveling Accidents
An accident can happen anytime and anywhere, but due to the nature of travel there are a few that are more common than the rest.
- Auto accidents. Around six million auto accidents happen on American roads every year. It can happen in your own vehicle on unfamiliar roads, but can also occur in taxis, rideshare vehicles, or rental cars. All can cause serious injuries depending on the circumstances.
- Slip and fall accidents. Falls can happen in any number of places, such as a restaurant or store with slick floors. Injuries can range from minor bruises to broken bones.
- Recreation/sporting injuries. For those who love to have a little fun when they travel, recreation time like a trip to a pool, water park, ski lodge, amusement park, etc. can end in a trip to the local hospital if something goes wrong.
While any number of other injuries can certainly occur while you are traveling, these are the most commonly reported and litigated.
A Post Injury Traveller’s Checklist
So, what should you do if you or a loved one is injured while traveling? Keeping a short checklist in your mind before anything goes wrong can help you not only quickly jump into action, but keep things calm.
- Call emergency services if needed. First and foremost, make sure that the injured person doesn’t need immediate medical attention. If they do, wait until paramedics have safely treated the victim or transported them to the hospital for further evaluation. Safety for the injured person is first priority.
- Report the accident to the proper parties. If the accident occurred in a public or private place, notify the manager on duty or the property owner. Most companies have a protocol for reporting and documenting injuries on the premises. If you or someone else in the group is hurt in a car accident, call 911 or notify local authorities to assess the accident scene.
- Document the scene as best as you can. Take pictures of the scene with your smartphone, and get the contact information of managers, employees, witnesses, or anyone else that is relevant to the accident and the events surrounding it.
- Seek medical attention. Even if the victim’s injuries are not serious or life-threatening, you will still want to see a doctor to make sure there are no complications. Adrenaline may cause the victim to miss certain symptoms in the immediate aftermath of the accident, while others may take hours to develop or are hard to spot without a trained eye. Soft-tissue injuries and back injuries, for example, may not seem serious at first, but can end up being incredibly painful and debilitating later on.
- Contact your insurance company. This is obvious if the accident is auto-related. You may also want to use your health insurance to pay for a doctor, but some plans have geographic limits. A good way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to carry traveler’s insurance, especially if you know you will be far away from home. Contact the company to let them know an accident occurred and begin the claims process if directed.
- See a personal injury attorney. If you think another party should be held responsible for the accident, seek a meeting with a personal injury attorney. Many will be willing to sit down for a free consultation, and can give you a good idea of the likelihood of your claim and what your next steps should be.
Personal Injury Law and Travelling
If someone’s negligence caused your injury, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries. Monetary damages can include compensation for your past and future medical bills, extra expenses caused by your injury, lost income, permanent disability, and pain and suffering. But it is important to remember that laws differ from state to state, and that may affect how much you can recover, who you can recover from, and how long you have to file a lawsuit.
Remember that you will likely be subject to the laws of the state where the accident happened and not where you live, if they are different. You can certainly work with an attorney in your home state (such as Abrahamson & Uiterwyk if you live in Florida) but be aware that the laws that apply to your case might be different to ones where you live.
Any injuries suffered while traveling can affect a person’s long term health and quality of life when they return home, and they may need significant monetary compensation to cover damages and future care. And because you might not be in your comfort zone when an accident occurs, the stress may cause you to forget certain aspects of reporting an accident to protect yourself or a loved one. So remember to report, record, and call for backup if you feel overwhelmed in the aftermath of an accident, and call a personal injury attorney if you have any questions.