Accountability for an Injury or Accident when Backpacking

Backpacking is all about freedom. Quite often, this means going it alone, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you are responsible for everything that happens to you. Generally speaking, backpacking is safe and few people on backpacking trips run into difficulty, but it does happen. Accidents and illness can cut short any holiday and can have consequences long after you get home. Of course, any sensible backpacker won’t leave home without adequate travel insurance, but this isn’t always as comprehensive as you may imagine it is.

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While travel insurance will pay for any medical bills and expenses while you are abroad, it won’t help you recoup the cost of your ruined trip, nor will it help with the effects any injury or illness has when you get back home. You may be too ill to go back to work and so lose earnings, or you may have to undergo additional medical treatment when you get back home, but you may have some recourse.


Just because you have taken to the open road on your own, doesn’t mean you are responsible for everything that happens to you. If you become ill or injured when away, it may very well be somebody else who is responsible. For instance, if you get struck down with food poisoning at a hotel, you can hold any travel company you booked the room through liable for such an incident. The same is true if you had an accident because of a badly maintained stairwell or pavement in a hotel. In these instances, you can make a claim for damages against the travel company.

You may also be eligible for compensation if you suffer due to medical negligence in a facility where you are receiving treatment following an accident or illness.

However, many backpackers forgo the use of travel companies and opt to make their own arrangements, and this does expose you to less protection. You can always try to claim compensation from the private owners of whatever building or activity that caused your injury, but this isn’t going to be easy, especially if you have to use foreign courts and overcome language barriers. However, if you have suffered an accident or injury when backpacking, get in touch with a personal injury solicitor that specialises in overseas cases, as they may be able to assist you in getting any damages that are due to you.

Public transport

Many injuries suffered by backpackers when abroad are often on public transport and many people think there is nothing they can do about it. However, this is not the case. All public transport companies, no matter what country they are based in, has to have some form of insurance. As such, it is important to identify who you think was liable for any accident that you become involved in. For instance, if the bus you are travelling in is involved in a collision with a car, you need to ensure you can identify the car driver and the bus on which you were travelling. This may be a simple matter of noting any registration or licence plates, but where possible, gather the contact details of any witnesses or fellow passengers.

Making a claim is best done when you get home. Trying to get the services of a foreign solicitor can be both costly and difficult, so the best recourse for claiming for any personal injury is to take all the evidence and information, including medical receipts and statements for any doctor or hospital you visited, to an expert lawyer who how knowledge of overseas claims. He or she will then be able to tell you whether you have a case or not, and hopefully, you can claim for any financial losses and receive compensation for your injury or illness.

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  1. says: Natalie

    Interesting post on options if you are injured while on holiday. There are some who would think we are too litigious in general, but if there is negligence it sure is good to know your rights. Drawing attention to something that is unsafe is a good thing for all the travelers who would be following!

    It is a good idea to review the insurance you have at home because sometimes that can be an extra layer of protection for you when you are on adventures!