Holiday accident advice: what if your kids are injured on vacation?


Jane Pettifer's daughter seriously cut her leg on a piece of protruding metal after falling from a ride in a hotel playground. However, the tour operator in question failed to properly respond to Ms Pettifer's complaint about the holiday accident.

Evidence abounds about such holiday accident issues. Some tour operators appear unable or unwilling to check children's clubs and facilities with due awareness of safety standards.

Holiday AccidentThis is especially distressing in the cases of children hurt in holiday accidents which could have been avoided if proper care had been taken.

Prior to advertising hotels as "family-friendly", tour operators should audit children's facilities to identify risks such as unguarded stairs or wide gaps between balcony railings: issues that ought to be resolved before families are offered the hotel.

Sometimes this normally secure system breaks down. In the case of Ms Pettifer's daughter, the ride might have become unsafe between audits, usually mounted at 3-year intervals.

However, while the tour operator could have been unaware of this, the same cannot be said of the hotel.

The Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tours Regulations 1992 make the tour operator liable for the hotel's failure to make the ride safe if the vacation is a package holiday.

If not, however, a parent could find making such a claim difficult unless it were proved that the tour operator knew or ought to have known of the defect at the time of the audit.

This highlights the benefits of booking a holiday as a package, rather than as separate components from different providers.

Clearly the ride in Ms Pettifer's case was unsafe for children's use. In other instances, due to regional differences in health and safety standards, it could be necessary to obtain evidence of local standards and their terms.

When it comes to caring for children and ensuring their environments are safe, judges are usually willing to find minimum acceptable standards.

However, if a parent is not with their child at the time of the accident, the tour operator could argue they were partially to blame due to lack of parental supervision.

Notwithstanding the case of Ms Pettifer, where her presence might have anyway made no difference to the outcome, it is important to be prepared for such issues to be raised in a tour operator's defence.

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