Traveling abroad can be a wonderful experience. A journey of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Seeing some of the most beautiful locations in the world can be awe-inspiring, and international trips are often part of people’s biggest dreams. But what happens if you get injured abroad and need medical care? What should you do?
Don’t Delay Care
If you’re injured abroad, first things first. Don’t panic and don’t delay care. Your health and safety are of utmost importance, especially when you’re in a land you’re unfamiliar with. Visit the nearest hospital for an exam and treatment of any injuries that you may have.
Documentation is crucial when you seek medical care overseas. Document everything from where the injury took place, what time the injury took place, and the medical care you sought. Note the name, address, and phone number of the hospital as well as the name of the physician treating you. This is all information that you will need later if you find yourself in need of a personal injury lawyer.
Not only should you keep notes on what happened and where you were treated, but be sure to get copies of all your medical records and keep all paperwork that an ambulance, hospital, or doctor provides.
Keep All Receipts
Keep your receipts for everything related to the injury, not just medical bills. Keep receipts for taxi rides that you may have taken to and from the hospital, medications you had to purchase as well as any medical devices, such as crutches or a neck brace.
Report the Injury
If you have been injured as a result of another person or company’s negligence, report the injury to authorities. Examples include car accidents, slips and falls, animal attacks, boating accidents, defective products, and more.
Understand that international law may differ from the United States when determining who is responsible for an injury, but the more documentation you have to bring home with you, the better.
Contact Your Insurance Company
It’s even better if you do so before your trip, as some insurance companies may offer an option for temporary international coverage at an additional cost. If you’re unable to purchase beforehand, contact them as soon as possible following an injury to see what their policy is regarding reimbursement.
Your policy may not offer coverage for any care that takes place overseas, but will begin covering care that takes place once you’re home. They may be able to advise you on how to purchase temporary coverage once you are already away.
Understand That Emergency Care & Costs Differ Overseas
While we’re accustomed to the way that hospitals and emergency services work here in the U.S., the processes differ in other countries, and vary based on the specific country you’re in at the time. Some countries that offer universal healthcare may cover some of your medical costs, but they are under no obligation to do so.
You will most likely be asked to pay an admission fee, similar to what would be considered an ER co-pay in the U.S. However, if you need to be admitted for an overnight stay the cost will depend greatly on the country you’re in.
What to Do If You’re Injured on a Cruise or Airplane
It may surprise you, but if you’re injured on a cruise or airplane as the result of the organization’s negligence, it will most likely be easier to file a claim. This is especially true if you are on a cruise or airplane that’s owned by a U.S. company.
The reason for this is that companies based in the U.S. carry liability insurance policies that a home-based personal injury attorney is most familiar with navigating in a court of law. It can be very difficult to sue a business or person overseas from the United States, without returning to that country and seeking representation once you’re there.
Plan in Advance
When traveling overseas, always plan in advance so that you are best prepared for any medical emergencies that may arise. Accidents and injuries often happen when we least expect them. Consider purchasing a travel insurance policy before you go, either from your existing insurance carrier or an independent agency.
Additionally, always bring essential documentation with you when you travel. These include things such as notes from your doctor regarding any existing medical conditions, medication you are taking, information on any allergies, and so on.
Follow Up Once You’re Home
It’s imperative that once you’re back in the United States you follow up with your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to provide an additional assessment on your injury, address any further care that you may need, and give more documentation that you may need if you choose to seek help from a personal injury attorney in the U.S.