Gastroenteritis is described by NHS Choices as an infection of the stomach and large intestine resulting in symptoms that include sickness, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
Contrary to the beliefs of many people that speak to us, it is not gastroenteritis that causes those symptoms. The symptoms are likely to have been caused by well-known food poisoning germs such as E. coli, salmonella and Norovirus.
The infection is also commonly associated with outbreaks of illness at hotels due to infected water caused by bugs that include Cryptosporidium and Shigella dysentery.
We are often contacted by clients who have sought medical assistance while abroad and have been diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis. They want to know whether they can claim compensation and also whether we are aware of a wider problem at the hotel.
When holiday makers approach their holiday reps following an episode of gastroenteritis, they are frequently told that it is due to the heat, over-indulgence, drinking too much alcohol or a viral bug that is going around the hotel.
While it is important to tell your representative that you were ill, ensure that they keep a record, it will be a doctor who can advise you how you acquired your infection. If your holiday rep attempts to diagnose your illness, it is important to remember that they are not a doctor and do not have the expertise to tell you what is causing your infection.
Even when our clients arrive back in the UK, we find that those complaining directly to tour operators are met with similar responses. They may try to play down your illness to persuade you not to make a claim.
It is important to remember that the people employed by tour operators to respond to complaints about food poisoning are often lawyers – and definitely not doctors. They will be people who are specifically employed to persuade you that you have no grounds for a claim or settle your claim for well under the amount that it may be worth.
The short answer is that yes you can, if you can show that your illness was caused by the fault of your tour operator and that your holiday was a package.
A number of factors will come into play including whether there were any hygiene issues at the hotel you were staying at and your board basis. If your symptoms started half way through your holiday and you had been staying at the hotel on an all-inclusive board basis, it is likely that the infection was contracted at the hotel you were staying at.
Unfortunately if you were staying at self-catering apartments it will be a much more difficult to prove that the infection came from your accommodation, unless you are able to prove that many other people were ill at the same time. It could then be argued that the water supply or the swimming pool was the cause of the infection.
When we are instructed to represent clients for a claim against a tour operator for gastroenteritis we will usually arrange for a telephone consultation with a doctor who has expertise in that area. The doctor will be able to say what the most likely cause of the illness is and whether there are likely to be long term consequences such as irritable bowel syndrome or reactive arthritis.
Factors such as the holiday cost, the severity and duration of the illness and the likely cause of the illness all contribute to the value of your claim. Compensation may also include out of pocket expenses and loss of earnings. The strength of your case may also have a bearing on the sum received which can contribute towards strength of your case.
A recently settled case involved a group of people that suffered gastroenteritis at the Grand Cettia Hotel in Turkey. Each of our clients received between £1500 to £5500 in a legal battle with Thomas Cook. See our case studies for further details of our experience.
To find out how much your claim may be worth, contact us on 0808 145 1353 or complete our online claim form.