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Beware ‘extreme sports’ on holiday – such as stepping onto a boat...

The new BBC programme Save My Holiday flagged up an important case which serves as a warning to us all. It featured the story of Elaine and Brian Crawford who set off on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Australia 5 years ago to meet up with their backpacking son and his friend.

Of course, like many tourists on holiday in Australia, the couple were eager to see the Great Barrier Reef and, with their son and friend keen to join them, they booked a powerboat trip to see the Reef rather than a more ‘leisurely’ trip that they would have preferred for themselves.

Of course, the Crawfords trusted that all would be safe and when handed a waiver to sign as they boarded the boat, Mrs Crawford did so without even reading it. The trip soon got out of hand as the boat crew aimed to please the thrill-seeking passengers on board by hitting dangerous speeds and ensuring the boat pitched and rolled against the waves. Halfway into the trip the powerboat hit a large wave and Mrs Crawford was lifted out of her seat and then slammed back down with the force of the collision. She was immediately in agony and had to be transferred to another boat on its way back to shore, and then had to endure a 2 hour drive to the nearest hospital. All whilst in immense pain.

At the hospital Mrs Crawford was told she simply had muscle strain and was prescribed painkillers. However, she was in so much pain that she needed to use a wheelchair and, after a few more days of agony, made her own appointment with a chiropractor. She was immediately sent for an X-ray which confirmed the chiropractor’s diagnosis of a compression fracture to the spine – effectively Mrs Crawford had broken her back on the powerboat.

Whilst the couple’s travel insurance company did upgrade them for the 24 hour plane journey home to make it as comfortable as possible for Mrs Crawford, the couple were not entitled to claim compensation for the powerboat accident as Mrs Crawford had signed the waiver – no matter that she hadn’t read that she was accepting liability for any injuries.

Mrs Crawford’s recovery was long and hard and the accident on holiday has had a huge impact on her life.

By getting on the powerboat the couple were deemed to have indulged in an ‘extreme sport’ which their travel insurance didn’t cover. And by signing the waiver Mrs Crawford lost her right to claim compensation for the holiday accident.

As the programme rightly pointed out, if you are asked to sign a waiver for any holiday activity then you are unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance for any holiday accidents and will not be able to claim compensation. Any holiday activity that requires you to sign a waiver is deemed a ‘risk’ – so think twice about whether or not you are prepared to take that risk.

If you have been injured in a holiday accident that was not your fault then you may be able to claim compensation. Get in touch today on:

Freephone: 0808 145 1353 or drop us a line using the form above.

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Dated: 31/01/2011

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