- Get medical attention. Without question the first thing to worry about after suffering a serious injury is the necessary medical attention required to prevent more serious complications. Medical care in foreign countries can vary dramatically from care in the United States. After seeking care it’s important to also get ahold of records related to the injury. Doctors back home will want to know what was done, and the records will be important in any legal proceeding.
- Report the incident to authorities. Depending on the country where the injury takes place, seeking help from police or even the local tourism bureau can be a helpful first step for finding resources to address the legal side of the injury. The U.S. consulate is also a good resource. Ideally the authorities can help to identify the people involved in the incident and secure evidence that will be needed later. One challenge of overseas injuries is the varying degree of cooperation a tourist can expect to receive from local agencies. For example, if local police are corrupt or unsympathetic to foreigners, they may be of little help.
- Gather evidence. Just like injuries at home, gathering evidence about the facts of the injury is vitally important. Getting the names and contact information of people involved in the accident, as well as witnesses, can go a long way toward making recovery possible. Language barriers and cultural challenges can make this process difficult in some places, which is another reason to look for help sooner rather than later.
- Find legal counsel. Figuring out another country’s legal system is not something an injured person should try to do. Instead, find an attorney in the United States that can do the legwork of tracking down a reliable lawyer in the country where the accident happened. The U.S. firm can “translate” the process and help coordinate the process of reaching a fair conclusion in the host country.
When an injury interrupts an overseas vacation, getting healthcare is only part of the challenge. Figuring out how to recover compensation from the individual or organization that is responsible for the injury can be a daunting task. Although the specific approach needed to address each situation will depend on a host of differing factors—where the injury occurred, the kind of legal system there, and so on—a few basic ideas apply to every personal injury overseas.