The Ministry of Justice has introduced new rules on holiday sickness claims, which will place a cap on the amount of damages a claimant can receive under a new fixed recoverable costs regime. This measure was formally announced in April and will take effect during 2018. Travel companies and insurers have welcomed the measure, as it is hoped it will clamp down on fraudulent claims. However, consumers and their legal representatives are concerned that genuine claimants may be underserved by the change in law.
Ministry of Justice cracks down on holiday sickness claims
The Association of British Travel Agents has released estimates that say claims for sickness during holidays have risen by almost 500% since 2013. This has been attributed to the growing number of out of court settlements for this type of claim, which appears to have encouraged a rise in fraudulent claims. There were a reported 35,000 holiday sickness claims made in the UK in 2016 – up from just 5,000 in 2013.
“This damages the travel industry and risks driving up costs for holidaymakers,” warned justice minister Rory Stewart in a recent statement. “This behaviour also tarnishes the reputation of British people abroad. That is why we are introducing measures to crack down on those who engage in this dishonest practice.”
Understanding the new rules on sickness claims
While it is right that the MoJ should be taking action to tackle fraudulent claims on behalf of the travel industry, there are concerns that genuine claims will now be limited under the new measures.
The new prescribed costs fall in line with employer liability and public liability claims under the new rules. Lawyers can now claim fixed costs up to the prescribed amount, and claim amounts are capped according to category and damage amount. Claims currently cost the travel industry an estimated £240 million per year, and the MoJ hopes its new rules will drastically reduce this figure.
How do the rules affect genuine claims?
Holiday sickness is a huge issue for those affected. Holidays are expensive, and many families only get to travel once a year – or less often. Studies suggest the average summer holiday for a family of four costs £1,212. If during that holiday, one or more family members become unwell, it can ruin the entire trip. Where there are serious medical needs, it can also prove very expensive as the ill parties seek treatment abroad.
If the sickness can be traced back to a hotel, restaurant, cruise line or another holiday provider, then there may well be grounds for the victims of illness to make a claim for compensation. Holiday sickness claims can also be made against a travel insurance policy, as long as a valid one is in place. Travellers need to be able to seek fair legal treatment in the event of holiday sickness.
Making a holiday sickness claim
If you or a loved one has become unwell during a holiday, you could be entitled to compensation or an insurance payout. Navigating the MoJ’s new rules could be tricky, but a legal specialist like Mackrell & Thomas Solicitors can help you through the process and give you a clear picture of the numbers involved. We can offer advice and guidance to anyone thinking of making a holiday illness claim, and we will work hard to get you a fair settlement within the new legal framework. Contact us today for more information or to arrange a consultation.