On 10 July this year, Thomas Cook successfully defended a claim made by a couple from Liverpool who fraudulently alleged that they and their children had fallen ill with food poisoning while on an all-inclusive holiday in the Canary Islands.
‘The family tried to claim up to £10,000 in compensation, but the judge said there was no evidence to support their claim and so the case was dismissed. In an unusual move, given the fundamental dishonestly involved, the couple were ordered to pay the tour operator nearly £4,000 towards their legal costs.’
The case comes after a sharp increase in the number of people making fake holiday sickness claims often months, if not years, after the alleged event is said to have occurred. The scale of the problem is now so significant that many leading tour operators have decided to make a stand and refuse to pay out on claims that cannot be substantiated with proper evidence.
In view of the crackdown, if you have fallen ill while on holiday and you believe this is because of poor food or hygiene standards in your accommodation, you should take the following steps to help prove your case:
- report the problem as soon as it arises, both to your holiday representative and the manager of your accommodation, taking care to make a note of the date and time and the person you spoke to;
- if possible take photographs of the food being served or instances of poor hygiene, for example where it is obvious that chicken is raw or untreated sewage is present;
- if you are aware of anyone else at your accommodation experiencing similar symptoms to you, get their details so that they can be contacted and asked to back-up your claim;
- mention your illness in any post-holiday surveys or questionnaires you are asked to complete;
- obtain medical evidence of your illness by visiting a doctor while your symptoms are still present, whether that is a doctor based in your holiday resort or your own GP when you return home;
- keep receipts and records of any costs or expenses incurred due to the illness, such as prescription charges or loss of earnings;
- follow-up the report you made to your holiday representative and the manager of your accommodation with a formal written letter of complaint to the tour operator and, if appropriate, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA); and
- seek legal advice without delay as there are strict time limits for claiming compensation.
For further information on making a claim for holiday sickness, or any other personal injury matter, please contact us on 01732 770660, [email protected] Warners Solicitors has offices in Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, Kent.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.