Traveling should be a pleasurable occupation, whether taking a short vacation at a beach resort or trekking round the world for a few months. For the most part travel is highly enjoyable, with opportunities to explore new countries and cultures, take part in exciting activities such as skiing or surfboarding, or just putting the feet up by the side of a pool and relaxing with a delicious cocktail.
It’s easy to forget, however, that traveling can be a risky business, and though no traveler really wants to consider the worst that might happen it’s essential to be prepared to deal with problems that might arise and develop strategies and actions that will, as far as possible, avoid an unpleasant injury.
A guide to common travel injuries
Road traffic accidents
Driving in an unfamiliar country takes time to adapt to the rules, regulations and driving habits of the local people. Everyone who watches the news or reads newspapers will be aware that even driving in one’s own country is not always safe, so when road and traffic conditions are very different there is the potential for accidents to happen.
Driving in some countries can be particularly hazardous, as the quality of local peoples’ driving and whether or not they obey the rules of the road has to be taken into account. This tends to be more likely in less well-developed countries but is by no means always the case. Another potential difficulty is driving a right-hand-side car if the driver has no experience of it. Care and vigilance are the watchwords here. Research demonstrates that road accidents are the most common cause of injury or death to travelers.
There are obvious risks when taking part in water sports, whether it is the simple act of swimming or a more high velocity thrill such as water-skiing. Nobody sets out to have an accident in the water but there are a number of dangers that can cause injury or death.
Divers, for example, may find themselves in unfamiliar waters with unexpected currents and find they get into difficulties. They may also encounter dangerous sea creatures such as jellyfish, urchins or coral that can inflict a nasty injury.
No matter how experienced a water-skier or surfboarder is there is always a possibility that they will fall and injure the head or a limb, and for swimmers the possibility of drowning if precautions are not taken is always a possibility.
Nobody wants to contemplate being attacked by someone else when traveling, but it’s a sad fact that it does happen. Criminals often consider tourists to be easy prey, not knowing the culture and with plenty of money, so it’s best to avoid areas of high poverty or if there is major civil unrest stay indoors. Injuries can be relatively light, such as bruising, or much more serious if knives or guns are involved. This is very rare of course.
It’s not just criminals that can be violent. It’s an unfortunate fact that alcohol plays a major role in violent incidents on vacation. In many places alcohol is cheap and easily available, and bars and nightclubs encourage customers with cheap drinks offers to get them through the door. Alcohol taken in excess can lead to a loss of inhibitions and control and the possibility that violence may occur in certain situations.
Alcohol can also be responsible for people harming themselves by falling over and injuring the head or other part of the body, or in extreme cases falling over the balcony rail of a hotel or apartment.
Taking risks is a normal part of life for many people, and sometimes the greater the risk the better. Outdoor activities are thrilling to do when traveling, but an awareness of risk factors for activities such as snowboarding, mountain biking or trekking should be borne in mind.
Wherever on travels and whatever one does, it’s essential to get comprehensive travel and evacuation insurance to protect if something goes wrong.
Steps to take if injured
Ensure all information for police and doctor involvement is recorded, with details of time and place of the accident and exactly what the injuries are. All receipts for payments made for treatment should be kept. The insurance company should be notified as soon as possible.
After traveling home there may be other actions that need to be taken, especially if a claim for personal injury is a possibility. Herrera Law Firm specializes in Injury Law and has a good track record of helping negotiate what can be a legal minefield for those injured while traveling.