For many, summer signifies vacation and fun. But sometimes, accidents occur during vacations that could mean severe injury for you or your loved ones. Here, the legal professionals at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz explain the proper protocol after you’ve sustained injuries during vacation.
What are Common Vacation Injuries?
Some vacations, such as beach vacations, cruises or adventure-sport vacations, are more accident-prone than others. But there is risk of injury in even the most relaxed of vacation destinations. The most common injuries sustained on vacation stem from slip-and-fall accidents, food poisoning, boating and watersport accidents, and car accidents. When determining your legal rights after an accident on vacation, it is important to determine if there was negligence on the part of another party, which in turn caused the injury.
Was Another Party Negligent?
Negligence is defined legally as a failure to provide appropriate and proper care or precaution. To prove that another party caused your accident through negligence, you must prove that that party, whether it be a rental car company, cruise line, hotel or other entity, failed to take reasonable precautions or care, and that if they had, your accident would not have occurred.
As one of many examples, a slip-and-fall accident at a hotel or on a cruise ship could be proven to be the result of negligence if the hotel or cruise line failed to clean up an area it knew was wet and could potentially cause slippery conditions, or failed to provide signage indicating that an area was wet or slippery. Failure to repair broken infrastructure in a timely or suitable manner, such as steps or concrete in poor condition, could also lead to a valid negligence claim in a similar instance. In addition, negligent design or construction of a property could lead to a valid negligence claim.
If an employee at a resort, hotel, or on a cruise ship commits an intentional crime, such as assault, theft, or rape, it is possible for the employer to be held responsible, especially if they failed to properly vet that employee, or were aware of an employee’s illegal or unethical behavior and failed to take proper action.
How Do Other Parties Protect Their Interests?
Realizing that accidents commonly occur during certain types of vacation activities, many vacation-related entities require individuals to sign legally binding contracts that prevent them from filing suit. Cruise ships, for example, may have a clause within their terms and conditions that releases them from liability for injuries suffered when docked or on shore.
A federal law known as the Graves Amendment shields car rental agencies from lawsuits filed for injured drivers. This means that if you rent a car from a rental agency and do not purchase renter’s insurance, you may be held liable for any damage to you or any others involved. Similarly, many adventure sport companies, such as those that facilitate jet skiing, scuba diving, ziplining or paragliding, require participants to sign waivers which acknowledge that the sport has an inherent level of risk and that participants accept the consequences of any injuries they sustain. It is critical to always read the terms and conditions involved in these types of activities—never sign or agree to anything unless you understand the consequences!
Despite this, note that there will be cases where having signed a waiver will not be a factor that negatively impacts your claim, depending on the way in which the waiver is written, or how it was signed.
What Should I Do If I Am Injured on Vacation?
The first and most crucial step when you are injured on vacation is to seek medical care immediately, no matter how small the accident—injuries aren’t always immediately noticeable. If you are injured because of an accident, contact the police or emergency services to come to the scene. In addition, notify the owner of the property where the injury occurred, or a manager on duty, and file a report regarding the incident. Having an official report filed and obtaining a medical evaluation from a professional will prove invaluable if you choose to pursue a claim for damages. Follow your medical professional’s care guidance fully, and continue getting treatment as long as pain or injury exists.
Once you are able, seeking legal help is the next best course of action, as a dedicated attorney well-versed in personal injury law can walk you through the process of filing your claim, and work to help you receive the compensation you deserve. It doesn’t pay to suffer in silence—contact the attorneys at AFSL today for a consultation.