It doesn’t matter where you’re traveling to. You could be coming to Central America from abroad to check out the tropics. Or you could be traveling within the region, either to another country, or just to your favorite Costa Rican beach or Central American mountain. Maybe you’re traveling from Central America, leaving the region to travel elsewhere, say to the United States or Europe.
Like we say, it doesn’t matter where you’re traveling to. If you get injured while traveling, your dream trip can become an expensive nightmare.
While no one expects to get injured while traveling, it’s worth knowing what to do if something does happen, whether it’s a traffic accident or any other type of incident that leaves you in a bad way. It’s worth know what do do if you ever have to file an injury claim.
Below are seven things to do if you get injured while traveling, and how these things can affect any claim you might have to make.
1. Seek medical attention:
This is obviously a nobrainer if you’re injured seriously enough to warrant hospitalization. You won’t have a choice in the matter. But for lesser, non-serious injuries you might receive while traveling, you might prefer to go back home and let your regular doctor check you out.
This isn’t a good idea. No matter how trivial your injury might seem, seeking immediate medical attention will help prevent later complications.
Contact your travel insurance company to see if they have a list of doctors/hospitals to go to, or ask local friends or family. Outside of your immediate wellbeing, faliure to get your injuries evaluated might look bad for you in case you need to make an injury claim at all.
2. Follow the medical advice you’re given:
It’s one thing to seek medical attention, quite another to actually follow the advice they give you when they check you out of hospital. If you’re on vacation, you might not want to take those painkillers, antibiotics, or return next week to get your stitches out or cast removed.
But from a legal point of view, it’s essential you follow the medical advice you’re given exactly, and that you document your compliance as much as you can.
If you don’t do what your doctors tell you, or you miss an appointment, you’ll give your insurance company an excuse to say you made your injuries worse. This will not only affect any payout you might receive from your insurance company, it might also reduce any claim you might have against an opposing party (if applicable). Following the medical advice you’re given will give you the best chance to protect your legal rights.
3. Have travel insurance:
It is always advisable to buy insurance before you travel to cover anything that might go wrong during your trip. Indeed, if you’re traveling to Costa Rica, travel insurance is mandatory for all foreign travelers. Expect more countries to mandate insurance before the Covid pandemic ends.
Having travel insurance that covers any health/medical expenses you may incur on your trip, will ease your mind in a massive way should the worst happen and you get injured in any way.
Your insurance company can also help you with finding good medical care and even cover any medical evacuation you may need in case of severe injury.
If you don’t have travel insurance, it’s possible your private health insurance might cover vacation injuries, although the coverage might be more limited. Find out exactly what your day to day health insurance covers before traveling, rather than waiting until its too late and you find yourself with a massive bill you can’t cover.
Whatever type of insurance you have, contact them as soon as possible (or as soon as you’re medically able to) after your accident or injury.
4. Take photographs of the accident scene and your injuries:
If you physically can, make sure to take photographs of the accident scene you’re involved in. Document the scene thoroughly by taking pictures from different angles to remove any doubt if someone decides to dispute your story about what happened.
If you’re in a car accident, take photos of the damaged vehicle, take notes (either audio or written), and video record the scene. This is easy to do now almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket.
If you can, take photos (or have someone else take them) of your injury immediately after receiving it.
5. Gather as much information as you can:
Get the names and contact info of people involved in the accident or injury, whether they’re participants or witnesses. Get license plate numbers (again, photos!) insurance info, and any other relevent info.
If you delay doing this, it might become difficult and expensive to track people down after the fact. This is especially true if you’re traveling in a foreign land or you’re far away from home. Get as much info as you can while you’re right there on the ground if possible.
6. File a report and/or police report:
If your injury occurs on private commercial property like a hotel, restaurant, or while on a tour, make sure the company knows what happened. Make sure you speak to the manager or owner – someone as far up the chain of command as possible.
If applicable, also file a police report. This will be applicable in the case or road or automobile accidents.
Failure to file a report with relevent authorities will reduce any possible claim you may have.
7. Get legal advice/contact an attorney:
Depending where you’re traveling to, you may or may not want to contact a local legal specialist to get advice. If you’re traveling in the United States, even as a foreigner from Central America, it’s worth doing so. Having the help of experienced injury claim attorneys will make it easier with all aspects of your accident or injury, from filing documents, handling insurance, and other matters.
They will also give you insight into local laws and be able to gauge how much compensation you may deserve as a result of your injury.
Any delay in seeking decent legal advice and representation after your injury may make any case you have weaker.
We hope you never need to take any of this advice.
It’s far better to travel and enjoy your vacation without any accident or injury whatsoever. But it’s an uncertain world out there, and you never know what could happen on any given day.
It’s far better to know what you should or can do if anything bad happens to you while you’re on your travels.