As the weather gets warmer and we see Spring Break and the summer on our horizon, people are starting to plan their vacations to foreign countries. But as you go ahead and plan for your good time, it's important to know what to do if you happen to get hurt on one of those vacations.
No one expects to get hurt while having fun. But if you do, it's important to take the steps necessary to be made whole for your injury. So below are some steps for various situations that you can use to protect yourself in a time of distress.
If you are hurt in a foreign country, it can be difficult to locate a healthcare professional abroad. If you need a doctor and do not know local contacts, then you should call the US embassy for whatever country you are in. If you do not know the number for the local US embassy, you can dial 1-202-501-4444 for a directory of all US embassies and consulates.
If you're in a car accident abroad, the first thing you should do is contact the local authorities so that you can have an official report of what occurred. You should document everything for insurance purposes, including taking pictures and video with your phone. Finally, you should check with your insurance policy to see if you're covered while driving your own car in a foreign country (if you have driven to Mexico or Canada, for instance). If you rented a car in another country and purchased insurance for the rental, you should contact the rental company and/or the insurance carrier immediately after the accident.
Whether you can sue another driver for damage may depend on the law in the country where the accident occurred, so it's important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you are able, who will be able to tell you your options depending on the law. Certain countries have very limited time frames in which to file suit, so more urgency is required than would be for a purely American claim.
An attorney can also be helpful if you received any medical care in that foreign country, as malpractice laws function differently in different countries. Also, in certain situations, foreign parties may have sufficient ties to the United States that they can be sued in American courts. Therefore, if you are hurt in a foreign country, it is vital that you, as soon as possible, contact an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the complicated steps of maintaining and asserting your rights.